The Texas Bowl is in its eighth year of existence, having replaced the Houston Bowl in 2006 (which, in turn, replaced the galleryfurniture.com Bowl, the only bowl game that started with a lower-case letter). The only real change was the geographic term -- the game is still played in Houston, though it moved from the Astrodome to Reliant Stadium. Formerly known as the Meineke Car Care Bowl of Texas, the Texas Bowl has cycled through conference tie-ins with the Big East, Conference USA, and the Mountain West before finally settling on the current Big Ten-Big 12 matchup.
Date and time, ET: Kickoff is set for 6 p.m. ET on Friday, Dec. 27.
TV channel: ESPN
Location: Houston, Texas. Because holding it somewhere outside Texas would be confusing to everyone.
Stadium: Reliant Stadium, with a capacity of 71,054
Tickets: Find available seats here.
Last year's score: Texas Tech defeated Minnesota 34-31 on a 28-yard field goal as time expired.
Last year's attendance: 50,386 brave souls attended the 2012 Meineke Car Care Bowl of Texas
Last year's TV rating: The 2012 Texas Bowl earned a 2.9 rating, the highest rating the game has received in four years.
Last year's payout for each school: Each school received $1.7 million for playing in the 2012 Texas Bowl.
Team with the most all-time appearances: No team has appeared twice in the Texas Bowl. TCU and Texas Tech have appeared in three Houston-based bowl games since the Houston Bowl came back in 2000.
Team with the most all-time wins: No program has won more than one Texas Bowl, but TCU, Texas Tech, and Texas A&M have each won two if you include the Houston Bowl results. That's why it's the Texas Bowl.
Minnesota (8-4, 4-4 B1G)
One of the more surprising success stories of this year’s Big Ten, Jerry Kill’s squad won their four non-conference games with ease against clearly inferior competition. After losses to Iowa and Michigan started out conference play, it looked like it was going to be a long year for the Gophers, but an impressive four-game stretch saw wins over Northwestern, Nebraska, Indiana and Penn State. Losses to Wisconsin and Michigan State ended the season with Minnesota at a respectable 8-4 and above the Wolverines in the conference standings.
David Cobb leads the way on offense for the ground-based Gophers, as he’s averaging over 106 yards of total offense per game. Minnesota’s defense has also been stout, led by Ra’Shede Hageman, who has eleven tackles for a loss.
Last bowl game: 2012 Meineke Car Care Bowl of Texas vs. Texas Tech, 34-31 loss
Last year without a bowl: 2011
All-time bowl record: 5-10
Head coach's bowl record: Jerry Kill, 0-3
Syracuse (6-6, 4-4 B1G)
Syracuse's ACC debut went pretty okay, as that 6-6 record implies. The Orange had to adjust to a coaching change in the process, which is always capable of complicating a season. But Syracuse hired from within after Doug Marrone left for the NFL, which no doubt helped to some extent.
Generating offense was a problem for the Orange all year -- while they have a solid stable of running backs, the passing game has left a lot to be desired. Syracuse gave transfer Drew Allen a shot under center at the beginning of the season before eventually settling on Terrel Hunt. Hunt's mobility added a dimension to the offense, but he also averaged an interception for every 30.5 pass attempts, which needs to improve.
Last bowl game: 2012 Pinstripe Bowl vs. West Virginia, 38-14 win
Last year without a bowl: 2011
All-time bowl record: 14-9-1
Head coach's bowl record: Scott Shafer, 0-0