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Insight Bowl features pair of explosive offenses

At first glance, a late December showdown between Kansas and Minnesota would seem best fit for the hardwood.

But if you're envisioning Bill Self and Tubby Smith stalking the sidelines of a basketball court, you're in the wrong place.

This time around, it's the schools' football coaches -- Kansas' Mark Mangino and Minnesota's Tim Brewster -– doing the pacing at Sun Devil Stadium in Tempe, Ariz., home of the Insight Bowl (Dec. 31st on NFL Network).

Watch Kansas play Minnesota in the Insight Bowl on Wednesday, Dec. 31, at 5:30 p.m. ET.

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Around this time last year, the Jayhawks were getting a taste of the BCS at the Orange Bowl, while Minnesota was finishing 1-11.

This season they share the same record (7-5), though both got here by drastically different means.

Kansas lost three of its games to the kings of the Big 12 South (Texas, Oklahoma and Texas Tech), while Minnesota lost its last four contests against a Big Ten that's been down this season.

The Jayhawks defeated rival Missouri in their season finale; the Gophers were embarrassed by rival Iowa, 55-0, in their season finale.

On the offensive side of the ball, the Gophers can get cooking quickly -- that is, when they are on their game. Adam Weber and Eric Decker may be the best passing combination in the Big Ten. Weber, a sophomore, was second-team all-conference at QB, while Decker led the Big Ten in receptions per game (6.9) and was a first-team selection.

It's hard to say which was more impressive for Decker –- his production or his toughness. He has had a laundry list of injuries that he's played through, including a concussion on Oct. 4 vs. Indiana, a shoulder sprain and bruised rib the next week against Illinois and a sprained knee and ankle against Northwestern.

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And although he underwent arthroscopic knee surgery after the season, he has posted 76 catches for 925 yards and six touchdowns to Tempe.

The Gophers had two second-team All-Big Ten selections –- defensive end Willie VanDeSteeg (9.5 sacks, 18 tackles for loss) and corner Traye Simmons, who led the conference in passes defensed (13) and was tied for second with four interceptions.

Minnesota forced 30 takeaways and had a turnover ratio of plus-12 (good for 10th nationally).

Kansas, meanwhile, is going to its second consecutive bowl game for the first time in school history.

Todd Reesing was once again Drew Brees in blue, an undersized (5-foot-11) quarterback with gaudy stats (3,575 yards and 28 touchdowns).

Reesing's receiving corps is three-deep. Converted quarterback Kerry Meier and Dezmon Briscoe ranked 12th and 19th, respectively, in receptions per game nationally coming into the postseason. Dexton Fields was the team's top returning receiver coming into the season, but he suffered an ankle injury just minutes into the Jayhawks' season opener. He's expected to play against Minnesota.

Safety Darrell Stuckey was KU's lone first-team all-conference selection. He's excellent in coverage (five interceptions) and as a tackler, as his 94 were second most on the team. The team leader in tackles was senior linebacker James Holt, who made a big chunk of those 97 stops in the opponent's backfield (15.5 tackles for loss, seven sacks).

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