December has been a month of headlines for Texas Tech.
After closing the regular-season with a 52-45 overtime loss to Baylor on Nov. 24, the Red Raiders learned their bowl destination on Dec. 1, found out on Dec. 8 that coach Tommy Tuberville was leaving to coach Cincinnati on Dec. 8, had offensive line coach Chris Thomsen named as the interim head coach and then on Dec. 12 came the news that Kliff Kingsbury would be Texas Tech's next coach.
Even for wind-blown Lubbock, it has been a whirlwind.
The Red Raiders (7-5) will face Minnesota (6-6) in the Meineke Car Care Bowl of Texas at 8 p.m. Friday in Reliant Stadium. For the second consecutive season, Texas Tech squandered a fast start. The Red Raiders were 6-1 in late October but lost four of their last five.
"It's been a ride," Texas Tech offensive lineman LaAdrian Waddle told the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal. "It's had some ups and some downs."
A bowl victory would close out the season on an "up" but Texas Tech fans are excited regardless because of Kingsbury's hiring. The former Red Raider quarterback is 33 and one of the youngest head coaches in FBS. He has received a reception worthy of a rock star since his hiring.
The future is bright, but for the current players there's one objective: finish with a victory in the bowl game.
"We kind of ended on a bad note, and that's not this football team," senior quarterback Seth Doege said. "That's not how we worked in the offseason and over the summer. We want to send the seniors out on a good note and finish this the right way, the way it needs to be done."
Doege leads an offense that is second in the nation in passing yards (361.9 per game), 12th in total yards (501.4) and 16th in points (37.8). Doege finished second in the FBS with 38 touchdowns.
Minnesota, like Texas Tech, started fast. The Gophers were 4-0 but struggled to a 2-6 finish in the Big Ten Conference. Minnesota scored more than 17 points just once in its last nine games - a 44-28 victory over Purdue on Oct. 27.
Meineke Car Care Bowl of Texas
Texas Tech vs. Minnesota
Need to know: 8 p.m. Friday, Reliant Stadium, ESPN.
Team records: Texas Tech 7-5, Minnesota 6-6.
Scouting Texas Tech
Even with the changes to the coaching staff, don't expect many changes to the Red Raiders' game plan. Offensive line coach Chris Thomsen is the interim head coach and Sonny Cumbie takes over as the play caller for the bowl game. The offense will continue to rely on senior quarterback Seth Doege, who completed 70 percent of his passes for 38 touchdowns and nearly 4,000 yards. Receivers Darrin Moore and Eric Ward combined for 156 receptions and 24 touchdowns. The running game was below average. The defense showed vast improvement from last season but faded down the stretch, allowing 50 or more points in three of the last five games.
The Gophers started the season 4-0 but an unproductive offense contributed to a 2-6 finish in the Big Ten Conference. Jerry Kill is in his second season as Minnesota's coach and has led the school to its first bowl game since 2009. Midway through the season, Kill turned over the quarterback job to freshman Phillip Nelson. The Gophers will be without receiver A.J. Barker, who had a team-high 577 yards and seven TDs. Minnesota's offense is 114th in the nation and averaging 317.5 total yards.
The last four Meineke Car Care Bowls have been decided by an average of 20.3 points. ... Texas Tech will be without cornerback Cornelius Douglas, defensive tackle Leon Mackey and linebacker Chris Payne. None made the trip to Houston. ... Texas Tech senior receiver Alex Torres missed the last two regular-season games with back issues and is expected to be a game-time decision. ... Minnesota's last bowl victory came in 2004. ... These teams met in the 2006 Insight Bowl. Texas Tech set an NCAA bowl record by overcoming a 34-point third-quarter deficit and winning 44-41 in overtime.