- Created on Saturday, 29 December 2012 15:14
- Last Updated on Thursday, 16 May 2013 07:51
- Written by Travis Pulver
Tommy Tubberville was probably hoping for a better finish to the regular season than 7-5, but at least it was enough to make the team eligible for a bowl game. It wasn't enough to keep him around, but in the end that was a plus for the Red Raiders Nation. The university was able to sign one of the hottest coaching prospects in the nation, former Texas Tech quarterback Kliff Kingsbury.
With the promise of a new era in Texas Tech football on the horizon the old era went out on a high note with a dramatic 34-31 win over the Minnesota Golden Gophers in the Meineke Car Care Bowl.
The two teams traded the lead back and forth throughout the game with Minnesota taking a 31-24 advantage with 14:00 left in the fourth quarter. Seth Doege helped keep the Golden Gophers in the game with a pair of interceptions in the fourth quarter, but when push came to shove he was there for his team with a 35-yard touchdown pass to Eric Ward to tie the game at 31-31.
Texas Tech has been known as an offensive team since the Mike Leach days, but credit for this win has to go to the defense. After giving up a pair of touchdowns to Minnesota in the third quarter they held the Golden Gophers to 39 yards of offense in the fourth quarter. Twice they bailed the offense out by forcing punts after Doege interceptions.
After the game was tied up at 31-31 with just over a minute to play the game appeared to be set to go to overtime, but the defense had something to say about that as well. Senior safety D.J. Johnson intercepted Phillip Nelson and returned the ball 39 yards to set up Ryan Bustin for the game winning field goal as time expired.
"More than anything I credit those players [Doege and Johnson]," said interim head coach Chris Thomsen. "They really held it together ... to get to make those plays after they struggled. They kept their poise and confidence and continued to stay in there and battle."
Kingsbury was in attendance, but watched the game from a suite instead of the sideline. As good as it must feel to watch his alma mater and his new team pull out a victory late in the game, he will have his hands full replicating that success let alone surpassing it next season.
He’ll have close to an entire offense to rebuild with seniors listed as the starters at nearly every position (but the guards and one wide receiver spot). On defense they lose the entire secondary. With their recruiting class currently ranked No. 71 on Rivals.com that may be easier said than done.
For now though, they are Meineke Car Care Bowl Champions. That means they are allowed to celebrate now and worry about next season later.