Gopher football coach PJ Fleck is happy

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Off to Detroit for Gophers and Georgia Tech

Quick Lane Bowl scheduled for Dec. 26 at Ford Field

December 03, 2018 - 5:28 am

Gopher football coach P.J. Fleck showed his usual enthusiasm when his team's postseason destination was announced.

"It's incredible news, we're so excited," said Fleck after finding out the Gophers will play Georgia Tech in the Quick Lane Bowl.

Playing the day after Christmas in Detroit's Ford Field, and its paltry (by bowl game standards) $750,000 payout, isn't a preferred destination.

But it can be looked at as an achievement for a team that was giving up so many points that the defensive coordinator was fired.

It's also a reward for a team that needed to win two if its last three games just get to the bowl requirement of six victories.

Those two critical wins came over Purdue, which handed Ohio State its only loss, and Wisconsin, which had beaten the Gophers 14 straight times.

Both Purdue and Wisconsin received bowl bids.

"It's a huge accomplishment for this program, and this individual team," said Fleck. "We're exactly where we should be. We earned everything that we got. That had to earn every single thing. They showed their character and the integrity of their fight, and what this program's all about."

The Gophers are 6-6 overall and were 3-6 in the Big Ten, winding up in fifth place in the league's west division in their second season under Fleck.

A year ago, the Gophers were 5-7.

"It's the next right step," said Fleck. "When we're ready to take the next right step, we have to take it. For this young team, to get to that point, I think that's a big feather in their cap." 

There had been talk of an appearance in the Pinstripe Bowl at Yankee Stadium in New York. That game instead matches Wisconsin against Miami.

During the regular season, the Gophers beat Wisconsin and Georgia Tech beat Miami.

The Pinstripe Bowl payout is $4.3 million.

The matchup is the first time Minnesota and Georgia Tech have played on the football field.

The Quick Lane Bowl is also the final game for the Yellow Jackets under head coach Paul Johnson, who led Georgia Tech for the last 11 seasons.

Georgia Tech won six of its last eight games to finish in second place in the ACC's Coastal Division.

This is Minnesota's second appearance in the Quick Lane Bowl and will be the Gophers' 20th bowl game all-time. Minnesota beat Central Michigan 21-14 in the 2015 Quick Lane Bowl and is 7-12 overall in the postseason.