Insight Bowl: Kansas (7-5) vs. Minnesota (7-5)
Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin
The Insight Bowl doesn't have many good memories for Minnesota fans and players. And Kansas would like to add some more misery to cap a disappointing finish.
The Gophers limped into a bowl with a four-game losing streak, capped by a humiliating 55-0 home loss to Iowa to cap the season. But a bowl trip is still something to be cherished, considering the Gophers are coming off a 1-11 record last season.
Kansas didn't finish much better, dropping four losses in their final six games. But gritty quarterback Todd Reesing directed a dramatic comeback victory over Missouri in Kansas' regular-season finale that help end the season on a positive note. And their post-season action this season marks the first time in Kansas' 119-season football history where the school has had back-to-back bowl trips.
Reesing keys a potent passing attack that ranks eighth nationally in passing and has a pair of top-20 receivers in Kerry Meier and Dezmon Briscoe. The defense has struggled against the better Big 12 offenses, having difficulties getting off the field because of a lack of a consistent pass rush.
After starting the season 7-1, Minnesota has struggled down the stretch offensively, scoring 17 points or less in five of their final seven games. And the blame can be tossed everywher as the Gophers rank 104th in rushing, 91st in total offense and 81st in scoring offense.
Wide receiver Eric Decker has emerged as the Gophers' major offensive threat, ranking 13th nationally in receptions.
It will also bear watching to see if Kansas can protect Reesing after ranking 92nd in sacks allowed. Minnesota has one of the Big Ten's premier pass rushers in fifth-year senior defensive end Willie VanDeSteeg, who ranks among the top 20 nationally in both sacks and tackles for losses.