"Our student-athletes and coaching staff have worked hard this year to reach this important milestone, which would have been impossible without the continued support of Gophers fans. So we hope Gopher fans will join us in Houston to cheer on our team. We are working on attractive travel packages with Creative Charters for our fans and look forward to having a strong contingent of Maroon and Gold in the stands."
Minnesota's invitation to play in the 2012 Meineke Car Care Bowl of Texas marks the Golden Gophers' 15th overall postseason bowl appearance, but the first since 2009.
In just his second year leading the Gophers, coach Jerry Kill has orchestrated an impressive turnaround to get Minnesota bowl eligible. Prior to the season, the Gophers were universally picked to finish outside of the bowl projections. Despite not having any first team All-Big Ten selections, Minnesota won six games and overcame adversity on and off the field under Kill's leadership.
"We are thrilled to be heading to Houston to play in the Meineke Care Car Bowl of Texas," said Kill. "This is a wonderful opportunity for our team to get better and a great accomplishment for our senior class. We have 13 players from Texas and I know they will be excited to play in their home state. Our opponent will be announced later tonight, but I know we will play a great team and will have our hands full. However, I know our team will be ready to play and will do their best to represent both the university and state of Minnesota.
"Houston is a great destination and offers a lot of entertainment options for our fans. Those who make the trip will have a great time at the bowl game and around the city."
Senior linebacker Keanon Cooper is from Dallas and is excited to finish his collegiate career in Texas.
"It is a surreal feeling that I will end my Minnesota career in my home state," said Cooper. "I am thrilled to be going to Houston for my third and final bowl game. I am also excited that my teammates will be able to experience the great hospitality of my home state and the rich football tradition of Texas."
Senior wide receiver MarQueis Gray, who is one of only seven Gophers who played in the 2009 bowl game, echoed Cooper's sentiments.
"Our goal all year was to qualify for a bowl game," said Gray. "I am happy for our senior class, the rest of the team and our coaching staff. We have worked hard all season to be able to reach the postseason, and it is a good feeling to know we accomplished one of our goals. However, we are not satisfied. We will continue to work hard and will do our best to try and win this bowl game for Minnesota."
Fans wishing to cheer on the Gophers in Houston are encouraged to visit Minnesota's Bowl Central page on MyGopherSports.com for ticket information. Tickets are available for purchase online now. Fans can also buy tickets from 9 a.m. - 5 p.m., Monday through Friday, at the Athletics Ticket Office in Mariucci Arena or over the phone by calling 612-624-8080 or 1-800-846-7437.
Travel packages to the Meineke Car Care Bowl of Texas will be available on MyGopherSports.com on Monday.