Minnesota Takes on Bowling Green in the 2023 Quick Lane Bowl

Minnesota Bowling Green

Out of all the discussion of the number of bowl games and if everyone who is in one deserves to be in one, well the Quick Lane Bowl is going to be in that discussion. Minnesota takes on Bowling Green in the 2023 Quick Lane Bowl. And if it wasn’t highlighted on your bowl schedule for the week, we get it.

Game/Teams; Quick Lane Bowl; Minnesota (5-7) vs. Bowling Green State (7-5)

Location; Ford Field, Detroit

Day/Date/Time; Tuesday 12/26; 2pm Eastern

TV Network; ESPN

Let’s face it, we’re going to watch the game anyway, because, well, because it is who we are. So we need to get to know the participants.

The Bowling Green Falcons

Bowling Green comes in with an offense that has limped through most of the season. The Falcons are 86th in the county in rushing offense, 106th in passing offense, and 71st in scoring offense. And that was when they had a full complement of players on offense.

Running back Terion Stewart was the team’s leading rusher, accounting for 762 yards on the ground. But he missed the last three games with a leg injury. He has been labeled as a game-time decision. His backup, Ta’Ron Keith is in the transfer portal.

That means any momentum on offense is going to have to come from quarterback Connor Bazelak. He is in his third college stop, having been at Missouri and Indiana before arriving at Bowling Green for his fifth season. Bazelak had an okay-enough season. He only threw for 1,709 yards, but did with a 61% completion rating. He had 11 touchdowns and seven interceptions.

But it was the last four games of the season that gives Bowling Green fans some room for optimism. He completed 66% of his passes in that stretch with wins over Ball State, Kent State, Toledo, and Western Michigan. He threw for a total of about 800 yards in those games with six touchdowns and only one interception.

The defense for Bowling Green is a different story. The Falcons are in the top 50 in the country in Rush defense, passing defense, and scoring defense.

The Minnesota Golden Gophers

That gets us to Minnesota and how it is going to score points. The Golden Gophers finished 5-7 and lost their last four games of the season. But they made it into the post-season based on their Academic Progress Rate (APR), when there were not enough six-win teams to fill all the spots.

The offense ranks in the lower half of the country in most categories. Starting quarterback Athan Kaliakmanis is in the transfer portal. The offense is likely to be run by fifth-year quarterback Cole Kramer who would be making his first start. He has thrown one pass all season…an interception against UNC.

Frankly, the offense was struggling this season even with the duly noted Kaliakmanis. Minnesota ranked 122nd in the country in total offense with just over 300 yards per game. So what harm could it do to let Kramer work on his game management skills? The Golden Gophers were a moderately respectable 59th in the country in total defense. But they were giving up 373 yards of offense per game…or more than they were getting themselves, which goes a long way to explain the 5-7 record.

The offense averaged just a tick under 150 yards per game rushing. The passing game was good for 153 yards per game.

When you finish writing a preview like this, it seems clear that Bowling Green should win the game. But there is this; Minnesota is 4-0 in bowl games under head coach P.J. Fleck. There is something to be said for teams who know how to handle post-season play.



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