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2023 Quick Lane Bowl: By the Numbers

Bowling Green will have most of their core players, while Minnesota’s QB situation is hard to glean.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: DEC 26 Quick Lane Bowl Photo by Scott W. Grau/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Nothing like a bowl game the day after Christmas.

On Boxing Day at 2:00 p.m. Eastern time, we’ll see Bowling Green and Minnesota clash at Ford Field in the Quick Lane Bowl. The Falcons (7-5, 5-3 MAC) are making their second consecutive appearance at the Quick Lane Bowl. On the other side, Minnesota (5-7, 3-6 Big Ten) is making their third appearance in nine seasons.

It’s the only MAC/Big Ten matchup for bowl season, a tradition of bowl seasons past, but one which has been upheld less and less since the institution of the College Football Playoff and the acquisition of bowls by ESPN started affecting how bowl matchups worked.

Let’s take look at some numbers to be aware of in this matchup:


Straight seasons with a MAC win over a Big Ten team

The MAC has a won a game over a Big Ten opponent in 16 straight full seasons, excluding the 2020 season affected by COVID. Unfortunately in the regular season, the MAC was unable to get in the left-side column, with the closest game this year being Akron’s four-overtime heartbreaker to the Indiana Hoosiers.

The Falcons will have the last chance of the season to extend this streak for the MAC. In fact, in this streak, Bowling Green has five of the MAC wins. They have two wins against Minnesota (2007 and 2021), and one win against each of Indiana (2014), Maryland (2015), and Purdue (2015).

(Another point of note: should the streak end at the Quick Lane Bowl, every current MAC team earned a win in the streak except for Kent State.)


Turnovers forced by Bowling Green

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: SEP 30 Bowling Green at Georgia Tech Photo by Rich von Biberstein/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The Falcons ended the regular season leading FBS in turnovers gained, with 16 interceptions and 11 fumble recoveries. They have a chance to finish at the top of FBS in the statistic, if they can force Minnesota to cough up the football on offense.

Jalen Huskey and Jordan Oladokun led the Falcons with four interceptions. Jalen Huskey committed to Maryland after entering the portal and will not make an appearance in Detroit. Same goes for fellow corner Deshawn Jones, Jr., who entered the portal and is currently uncommitted. This leaves Oladokun, Davon Ferguson, and Jalen Burton (who has plenty of game experience) for the bowl game. Despite this, the Falcons still remain strong on defense.

423 yards and 12 touchdowns

Improvements by the Bowling Green running game

The Falcons were abysmal running the ball in 2022. Last year only saw eight rushing touchdowns, while this season saw 20. Along with a 400+ yard increase, what was the secret? Leading up to this season, Coach Loeffler preached that they would run the football, and a big piece of the improvement was the return of Terion Stewart.

Stewart sat out 2022, and his presence was definitely missed. In nine games this year, he accumulated 762 rushing yards, and eight rushing touchdowns. Stewart was on pace to be the first 1,000 rusher at Bowling Green since 2016, but he left the Ball State game late due to an injury. Stewart missed the rest of the regular season after that.

Who stepped up since then? Ta’ron Keith, and was it great to watch. In the final three games of the year, Keith averaged 77.7 rushing yards, and 66 receiving yards per game. All while having three rushing touchdowns and one receiving touchdown. Keith was crucial

But Bowling Green faces a new problem: with Keith in the transfer portal, and Stewart questionable to play, how will they utilize the running game? The next man up is Jaison Patterson, the leading rusher from last season. Despite only having 34 carries this year, Patterson can still be an effective rusher if he’s needed in a large capacity.


Bowling Green’s last bowl win

The last time Bowling Green tasted success at a bowl game was at the inaugural Camellia Bowl in 2014. The Falcons jumped out to an early 14-0 over South Alabama, before taking a 20-7 lead into the halftime break.

South Alabama figured out what to do, and took a 28-27 lead late into the fourth quarter. It didn’t take long for BG to respond when James Knapke found Roger Lewis for the game-winning score. Bowling Green won 33-28, taking home their first bowl win since the 2004 GMAC Bowl (present-day 68 Ventures Bowl). Bowling Green finished that year at 8-6, and Knapke took home Camellia Bowl MVP honors.


Minnesota’s record to end the regular season

Minnesota sat at 5-3 before the Illinois game. They had a prime chance to ensure a spot in a bowl game with no issues, but they would lose to Illinois by one point. They would go on to lose to Purdue, be dominated by Ohio State, and finally lose to Wisconsin to end the season. This stretch ended up making a four-way tie for last in the Big Ten West. It helped to be very good in the classroom, as the Gophers had the highest APR (academic progress rate) of all the five-win teams.

Thew cards fell their way, as several teams who could have qualified for the postseason failed to secure their spots, allowing Minnesota to sneak through despite their poor finish to the season.


Minnesota’s Bowl Record under P.J. Fleck

Fleck has led the Gophers to the 2018 Quick Lane Bowl, the 2019 Outback Bowl, the 2021 Guaranteed Rate Bowl and last year’s Pinstripe Bowl. The team has gotten wins in all four of those games, even winning all six of their bowls dating back to 2015. This is a program that has had lots of success in the postseason, and they look to continue this bowl game winning streak.


Passes attempted by Cole Kramer in 2023

NCAA Football: Minnesota at Indiana Marc Lebryk-USA TODAY Sports

P.J. Fleck named backup QB Cole Kramer as the starter for the Quick Lane Bowl, as regular starter Athan Kaliakmanis entered the transfer portal. Kramer has attempted one single pass this year, and what was the result? An interception.

Cole Kramer is no stranger to the Falcons, in fact, he scored the lone Minnesota touchdown in their 2021 matchup. With Kalilamanis not available and a supreme lack of experienced talent on the depth chart, the Gophers will be depending on Kramer to carry the load against one of the best defenses in the country.