Texas Tech Defensive Line
Perhaps the biggest surprise of the year for me, was the play of the defensive line. We were all sure about Dawson, but Ratliff, Hudler, Scott, Blake and Nitschmann played above their potential.
There were times where it did not seem as if they were getting sufficient pressure on the quarterback, but they were 42nd in the nation in sacks and 6th in the Big XII. Tech was ranked 76th in the nation in rushing defense and 49th in overall defense. I think that a large part of Tech's overall defensive success was the play of the defensive line. Dawson led the defensive line in sacks and in tackles and collectively this unit played better than expected.
The key of course if for Tech to be able to get to Cupito and force him into some mistakes. As we have already discussed, Cupito is statistically better in victories than losses, the more that Tech is able to force Minnesota and Cupito into bad decisions the more likely that Tech will come out ahead.
Minnesota Offensive Line
Offensively for the Golden Gophers, they were adequate as they rushed for 151.00 yards a game, which is good for 45th in the nation and 5th in the Big Ten. More impressively, Minnesota only allows 1.33 sacks per game which nationally ranks 18th in the nation. Essentially, the Minnesota linemen do a decent job of giving Cupito time to throw the ball and they allow the offense to rush 151 yards a game. When it comes to the offense, they aren't great at any one thing, they are pretty good, but not great.
It will be interesting to see how Tech will matchup against this line. Physically, they are not huge, and Tech has seen bigger linemen before, but I'll go with the Gophers on this matchup.