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Bowling Green meets Minnesota in return to Quick Lane Bowl

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Bowling Green might experience deja vu when it squares off against Minnesota in the Quick Lane Bowl on Tuesday afternoon at Ford Field in Detroit.

The Falcons are back in the Quick Lane Bowl for the second straight year. Their latest invitation followed a 7-5 season that included a 5-3 record in the MAC.

Falcons coach Scot Loeffler jumped at the chance to make the 90-minute trip north from campus in Bowling Green, Ohio.

“It’s a tremendous opportunity to return to Detroit, which is in our recruiting footprint,” he said.

Bowling Green faces a Minnesota team looking to finish on a positive note after posting a 5-7 record overall and going 3-6 in the Big Ten.

The Golden Gophers were the only team with a sub-.500 record to earn a bowl invite. That is because there were not enough teams that finished 6-6 or better to fill all the bowl slots, and Minnesota was first in line among the five-win teams because of the team’s academic marks.

“We’ll always accept a bowl bid — always,” Golden Gophers coach P.J. Fleck said.

Minnesota has won six consecutive bowl games, including four straight with Fleck as coach. This will be Fleck’s fifth bowl appearance, which ranks second in school history behind only Glen Mason, who made seven from 1997-2006.

Meanwhile, Bowling Green is looking for its first bowl victory since 2014 when it won the Camellia Bowl. The Falcons have lost their last two bowl games, including a 24-19 setback against New Mexico State in last year’s Quick Lane Bowl.

Bowling Green is led by Connor Bazelak, who passed for 1,709 yards, 11 touchdowns and seven interceptions this season. Camden Orth also earned time under center and tallied 486 passing yards, five touchdowns and five interceptions.

Terion Stewart was Bowling Green’s leading rusher with 762 yards and eight touchdowns. The top receiving target was tight end Harold Fannin Jr., who compiled 573 yards and six scores.

Minnesota turns to Cole Kramer at quarterback for the first time this season. Kramer replaces Athan Kaliakmanis, who started every game this season but has entered the transfer portal.

The Golden Gophers’ top rusher is Darius Taylor, who had 591 yards and four touchdowns in the regular season. Wide receiver Daniel Jackson led the team with 831 receiving yards and eight touchdowns.

Kramer, a senior, thought that his college football days were finished after the Golden Gophers’ last game. Now he finds himself as an unlikely starter for a team that did not expect to reach a bowl.

“You know, it’s crazy to see all these things unfold,” Kramer said.

This will be the fifth all-time meeting between the programs. They last played in 2021, when Bowling Green held on for a 14-10 win on the Golden Gophers’ home field in Minneapolis.

Loeffler said he expected Minnesota to be “hungry to play.”

“Our game against them two years ago was a physical battle to the end,” Loeffler said. “And this one will be, too. It will be an exciting game for both programs.”

–Field Level Media

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