The last bowl game of the season for Mid-American conference fans is here. The Quick Lane Bowl features the only MAC vs. Power Five conference this season. If Central Michigan can pull off the victory, they'll bring the MAC its first winning bowl season for the first time since 2011.
Speaking of CMU, The Chippewas (7-5, 6-2 MAC) will look to bring an emotional season to a grand close with a big win over the Golden Gophers. Junior gunslinger Cooper Rush has shown a propensity for coming up clutch in the late hours of the game, especially in bowls. Rush threw for 493 yards and tied the NCAA bowl record with 7 passing touchdowns in the 2014 Bahamas Bowl. This season, the Chippewas passing offense has actually performed better than last season, despite losing 51% of their total offensive yards to the NFL (Titus Davis and Thomas Rawls).
The Golden Gophers (5-7, 2-6 B1G) are one of five teams to make it to bowl games based on APR, but they're no slouch. MInnesota was on fire in the non-conference season, going 3-1 with close wins over Kent State, Ohio, and COlorado State after a last-second loss against then #2 TCU. Coach Jerry Kill, who had led Minnesota football over the last five seasons, was forced to retire soon to seizures, and new coach Tracy Claeys has Minny playing competitively, despite going 1-4 in his tenure.
How to watch:
Where: Ford Field (65,000) in Detroit, MI.
When: December 28th at 5:00 p.m.
TV/Streaming: The game will be aired on ESPN2, ESPN3, and the WatchESPN app. All need a valid cable subscription to work.
Radio: The Chippewa Sports Network (temporarily remaned the Quick Lane Bowl Radio Network) will carry the game. It can be heard on WCFX-FM 95.3. A stream can be found online.
Players to watch:
Cooper Rush (QB)-- As mentioned before, Rush is the lynch-pin to the CMU offense, directing the line of scrimmage with surprising precision. Rush has 3,703 yards, 27 touchdowns, and 10 interceptions on the season. Rush's sneaky efficiency has helped drive the Chips this year, as the CMU rushing offense has lacked explosiveness, despite a four-headed running attack.
Kavon Frazier (DB)-- Frazier has been drawing the eyes of NFL scouts as a potential project player thanks to his ability to sniff out the ball and stop the runner from advancing. Frazier has 103 total tackles, and one interception on the year, and performed well enough against Eastern Michigan with seven solo tackles on the day to wear the ceremonial #21 for the second time this season.
Shannon Brooks (RB)-- In an offense where the quarterback is hit or miss on a given day, the running game is a good crutch to lean on. Brooks leads the Gophers rushing attack, with 7 touchdowns on the season to go along with 644 yards. Brooks averages 6.2 yards per game as a true freshman, and has shown spurtability in multiple games this year.
Antonio Johnson (DB)-- The senior corner will have to pick up the slack, as there are some good injuries at his position, what with Jalen Myrick out for the year thanks to injury. Johnson has 99 tackles, two tackles for loss, an interception, and a fumble recovery on the year. He will have a key assignmnent tonight, as five receivers for CMU are over 500 yards on the season.
Odds: Minnesota is favored by five points, according to OddsShark.com.
Weather: The weather is bound to get nasty. A projected high of 28 will be met with a thick mix of rain and sleet throughout the day. Thankfully, the game is indoors.