Quick Lane Bowl Preview


Sunday will mark the last time the Detroit Lions play at Ford Field in 2015, but it’s not the final football game in the grand stadium this calendar year. One day later, the Quick Lane Bowl takes place.

Minnesota and Central Michigan will meet for the first time on Monday, Dec. 28th with kickoff at 5 PM. The Golden Gophers made it despite having a losing record, while the Chippewas finished 7-5 by winning five of their last six games.

Lions fans will likely side with the Chips, who hail from Mt. Pleasant about 3 hours to the northwest. Central’s coach is John Bonamego, who served as Detroit’s Special Teams Coordinator in 2013 and ’14. He’s one to root for beyond just the local ties. Coach “Bono” successfully fought off cancer just after taking the CMU job.

Minnesota had some coaching drama of its own, as beloved head man Jerry Kill was forced to retire for health reasons of his own during the season. He had a long history of seizures. Tracy Claeys took over and earned the permanent gig by guiding the uneven Gophers to an unlikely bowl appearance. Claeys marked his territory by firing several Kill coaches immediately after the season, so they might have some coordination issues.

The Gophers strength is the defensive back seven. Corners Briean Boddy-Calhoun and Eric Murray are both going to play on Sundays. Minnesota wound up ranked 15th in the nation in pass yards per game and 18th in TD passes allowed. They’re stingy and the back end has great chemistry despite some injury issues.

Despite the impressive pass defense, they don’t pressure the QB well. Minnesota notched just 16 sacks, and that gives CMU and QB Cooper Rush a chance to attack. Rush set the school record for passing yards this year and tossed 25 TDs.

The junior from Lansing has some pretty impressive bowl history, too. Last year he threw seven TDs in Central’s thrilling win over Western Kentucky in the Bahamas Bowl.

If this game turns out anything like that one, the Ford Field fans are going to love it. Then again, both these teams feature tough pass defenses and poor running games, so a shootout seems unlikely.

The two teams faced one common opponent this year. Minnesota beat Kent State 10-7, while the Chippewas fired past KSU 27-14.

I will be in attendance, in conjunction with a program from the Bowl. In the spirit of full-disclosure, I’ve partnered with Quick Lane as part of the Quick Lane Bowl Preferred Blogger Program. I’ll be receiving special access to the Quick Lane Bowl however, no payment was given or expected for posting about the program.

To purchase tickets for the Quick Lane Bowl, please visit www.helpkeepthepromise.org. For every ticket purchased, Quick Lane will donate $10 to Disabled American Veterans to support and empower military veterans.

Check back for a full game recap on Tuesday.