Five Things You Need To Know
1. Minnesota finished the regular season with an 8-4 record (4-4 Big Ten) and qualified for a bowl game for the second straight year. The Gophers, who were 3-9 two years ago and finished 6-7 last year, have turned into one of the best stories in college football. Minnesota was widely picked to finish last in its division in Big Ten play, but began the season 4-0 before dropping conference affairs to Iowa and Michigan. Minnesota then won four straight Big Ten games, which is something it had not done since 1973. Included in the streak were wins against traditional powers Nebraska and Penn State. The Gophers ended a 16-game losing streak to the Huskers and claimed the Governor’s Victory Bell from the Nittany Lions.
2. The 2013 Texas Bowl is Minnesota's 16th bowl appearance. The Gophers are 5-10 all-time in bowl games stretching back to the 1961 Rose Bowl. Their first bowl victory was against UCLA in the 1962 Rose Bowl (21-3), and their most recent bowl victory came against Alabama (20-16) in the 2004 Music City Bowl. Minnesota is making its second consecutive Texas Bowl appearance. The Gophers have previously been to multiple Rose Bowls (1961 and 1962), Sun Bowls (1999 and 2003), Music City Bowls (2002, 2004 and 2005) and Insight Bowls (2006, 2008 and 2009).
3. The Gophers enter the Texas Bowl at 8-4. This year is the first time since 2003 (team went 10-3 that year) that Minnesota has won at least eight games in one season. At 8-4, Minnesota has its best record after 12 games since it was 9-3 in 2003. This year also marks the seventh season since 1960 and 18th time overall that Minnesota has won at least eight games. The Gophers won 10 games in 2003 and won eight games in 2002, 1999, 1967, 1961, 1960. Minnesota also won at least eight games in 1941, 1940, 1935, 1934, 1905, 1904, 1903, 1902, 1901, 1900 and 1896. A Texas Bowl win would not only snap a five-game bowl drought, but it would also give Minnesota nine wins in a season for only the eighth time in program history and for only the second time in the last 108 years. The Gophers won at least nine games in 2003, 1905, 1904, 1903, 1902, 1901 and 1900.
4. Coach Kill’s third year at a school has historically been a turning point for his teams. Despite having only two true recruiting classes with the Gophers, Kill has continued that trend at Minnesota. Kill's Southern Illinois, Northern Illinois and Minnesota teams went a combined 27-47 in their first two seasons before going a combined 28-9 (to date) in their third seasons.
School (Years) Year 1, Year 2, Year 3
Southern Illinois (2001-03) 1-10, 4-8, 10-2
Northern Illinois (2008-10) 6-7, 7-6, 10-3
Minnesota (2011-13) 3-9, 6-7, 8-4
5. Minnesota has played 25 games since the start of the 2012 season. In those 25 games, the Gophers are 14-11 overall. Minnesota was 6-19 in its previous 25 games from Dec. 31, 2009 to Nov. 26, 2011.
You can view Minnesota's complete Texas Bowl Media Guide here.