The Cactus Bowl has become a standard for high-scoring, exciting games and the 18th Annual version went to another level as Texas Tech overcame a 31-point deficit to rally for a 44-41 overtime victory over Minnesota to record the largest comeback in NCAA Division I-A bowl history.
Held at Sun Devil Stadium for the first time in Cactus Bowl history, a crowd of 48,391 witnessed a tale of two halves as Minnesota jumped to a commanding 35-7 halftime lead. The Golden Gophers opened the third quarter with a 16-play, 78-yard drive that ended with a 20-yard field goal by Joel Monroe to give them a 38-7 lead with 7:47 left in the third quarter.
But the Red Raiders scored 31 unanswered points in less than 20 minutes, capped by Alex Trlica’s 52-yard field goal on the final play of regulation to send the game to overtime.
Minnesota got the ball first in overtime and scored on a 32-yard field goal by Joel Monroe to take a 41-38 lead. But Shannon Woods scored on a 3-yard run to win it for Texas Tech and create a wild celebration on the field by the Red Raiders’ players and coaches.
Texas Tech quarterback Graham Harrell threw for 445 yards and two touchdowns to earn offensive player-of-the-game honors. He also set Cactus Bowl records with 55 passing attempts and 36 completions.
There were several offensive stars on both teams. Woods scored the game-winning touchdown and added 109 yards rushing and two others scores while wide receiver Joel Filani had 11 receptions for 162 yards and a touchdown.
For Minnesota, Amir Pinnix ran for 179 yards, Bryan Cupito threw for 263 yards and three touchdowns and tight end Jack Simmons caught seven passes for 134 yards.
The 18th Annual Cactus Bowl was televised by NFL Network for the first time and paid each team a record $1.2 million.