2008 Insight Bowl Preview
Minnesota (7-5, 3-5 Big Ten) vs. Kansas (7-5, 4-4 Big XII)
December 31st, 2008 @ 5:30 PM (EST) – NFL Network – Tempe, Arizona
Tempe, Arizona's Insight Bowl features round two of the Big Ten versus Big XII series this year. Minnesota and Kansas come into the game with identical records but are very different football teams. Last year, the Golden Gophers went 1-11 while Kansas went 12-1, so they came into the season with completely different expectations.
Minnesota started the year with an impressive 7-1 record, with their only loss coming in the Horseshoe to the Buckeyes. Head Coach Tim Brewster has had a lot of success recruiting since he was hired but this was the first example of his ability to coach. However, the Gophers lost a heartbreaker against Northwestern on what amounted to a walk-off interception return for a touchdown and lost their last four games to close out the year. A large culprit in their struggles was their defense, which allowed an average of nearly 36 points per game during the final third of the season. The Gophers’ offense will also be at a disadvantage against the Jayhawks because they’re primarily a passing team and their best receiver, junior Eric Decker, will miss the game because of injury.
Kansas began the year as a strong contender in the Big XII North. However, their schedule was much more difficult than last year’s, featuring Texas, Oklahoma, and Texas Tech from the South, none of which faced the Jayhawks last season. That alone should account for much of their decline this year. However, the other major culprit in their five losses was the play of their defense. In those losses, they gave up an average of 45 points per game! Luckily for the Jayhawks, their offense is pretty solid and junior Todd Reesing is one of the best quarterbacks in college football.
Both teams struggled down the stretch. Minnesota finished 0-4 while Kansas finished 2-4. However, the Jayhawks rebounded from all of their struggles by defeating archrival Missouri in the season finale while Minnesota was blown out 55-0 by rival Iowa. Furthermore, Kansas has a far more explosive offense. Minnesota is also a much younger team that didn’t play in a bowl game last season while Kansas has a large number of veteran players who were on last year’s Orange Bowl-winning team. This game will likely play out with a lot of points on the board but Kansas shouldn’t be overexcited by the bowl atmosphere and will draw on their experience against their opponents from the north. Kansas will defeat Minnesota in a shootout and win the Insight Bowl.
Insight Bowl Pick: Kansas 41 - Minnesota 34
by Matt Baxendell
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