Quick Lane Bowl Preview
(DETROIT, MI) – The Quick Lane Bowl kicks off in just two days at Ford Field in Detroit. This year the competing teams will be the Minnesota Golden Gophers (6-6), representing the Big Ten, and the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets (7-5), from the Atlantic Coast Conference. Tickets are still available for the bowl game hosted by the Detroit Lions.
Georgia Tech qualified for the Quick Lane Bowl by winning six of its final eight regular season games to finish second in the ACC Coastal Division. The game will be Yellow Jackets head coach Paul Johnson’s final contest at the helm of Georgia Tech. He announced his retirement after 11 seasons at the Atlanta school.
“This is my 40th straight year of coaching without a break. It’s probably time for a break,” Johnson said. “I’ll take a break and re-evaluate. Who knows.”
In their season finale at Wisconsin, the Golden Gophers earned their berth to the Quick Lane Bowl by defeating the Badgers at Madison, WI, for the first time since 1994. This year will mark Minnesota’s second appearance at the Quick Lane Bowl where they defeated Central Michigan 21-14 in 2015.
In addition to Wisconsin, second-year head coach PJ Fleck led the Gophers to conference wins over Indiana and Purdue and three non-conferences wins, including a battle with Fresno State (12-2). However, Minnesota suffered defeats at the hands of sub .500 Maryland, Nebraska, and Illinois. It’s hard to say which Gopher squad will show up on Wednesday.
Who To Watch
The Minnesota defense may experience some trouble while combating the Georgia Tech triple-option offense, which Johnson perfected while at Navy and Hawaii. The Jackets averaged 5.7 yards per carry in 2018 and employed the flexbone the triple option, utilizing the tight end. While starting QB TaQuon Marshall attempted just 100 passes all season, he is a rushing threat with 894 yards on 194 carries and 11 TDs.
“Playing Georgia Tech, especially on defense, is a major challenge,” said Fleck. “The system and the style is different and you change your defensive system to be able to stop the triple option.”
Conversely, Georgia Tech will have to contend with the double threat of Minnesota running back Mohamed Ibrahim and wide receiver Tyler Johnson. Ibrahim collected 962 all purpose yards this year, including 936 on 171 carries and 7 TDs on the ground. Johnson scooped up 10 TDs on 74 receptions and 1,112 yards strung out by quarterbacks Zack Annexstad and Tanner Morgan.
Minnesota’s secondary, led by Jacob Huff and Coney Durr, made 11 picks this year, though none returned for TDs. The Jackets had three players with two interceptions including Anree Saint-Amour who returned one for six points. He also led Georgia Tech with 4 sacks.
“It ought to be a heck of a game,” said Coach Johnson. “It’s a contrast of styles so it’ll be interesting.”
Festivities begin at 5:15pm.