West Virginia football is headed to its second bowl game of the Neal Brown era as it takes a trip to the desert to face the Minnesota Golden Gophers in the Guaranteed Rate Bowl.

This particular bowl game has gone through several name changes, but this year, it will feature two of its most common teams. Coincidentally, the storied programs of WVU and Minnesota will square off for the first time in history.

Here’s everything you need to know about WVU’s season finale:

Guaranteed Rate Bowl game information

  • Who: West Virginia (6-6, 4-5 Big 12) at Minnesota (8-4, 6-3 Big Ten)
  • Where: Chase Field in Phoenix, Arizona
  • When: Dec. 28, 2021
  • Kick time: 10:15 p.m. ET
  • Where to watch: ESPN
  • Where to stream: WatchESPN
  • Radio: Find your local affiliate of the Mountaineer Sports Network
  • All-time series: First-ever meeting
  • WVU’s third appearance in Guaranteed Rate Bowl: 1-1 record, last showing in 2016
  • Minnesota’s fourth appearance in Guaranteed Rate Bowl: 0-3 record, last showing in 2010
  • Favorite: Minnesota by 5 (via Oddsshark consensus)

Neal Brown’s perfect bowl record as a Division I head coach is put on the line in Phoenix as he faces a friend in Minnesota coach PJ Fleck. This is the first time the two coaches have squared off, and they’re doing it for a trophy.

The Mountaineers ended the season on a 4-2 run, notching two straight victories to end the campaign. Interestingly enough, the Gophers enter the Guaranteed Rate Bowl with the same form, but their regular season ended with an exclamation point, knocking off No. 14 Wisconsin at home in front of its second-biggest crowd of the season.

WVU will be mostly at full strength against Minnesota, as only running back Leddie Brown has opted out of the Guaranteed Rate Bowl — that means that Tony Mathis will get his first career start, a prospect that excites the redshirt sophomore. The Mountaineers are also expected to get some players, like linebacker Lance Dixon and wide receiver Bryce Ford-Wheaton, back from injury for the finale.

On the other sideline, PJ Fleck has said that his team will have no opt-outs. Injuries have stricken the Gophers, however, and that shows up on the stat sheet — not one of their three leading rushers have played all 12 games this season, and they will still be without Trey Potts and Mohamed Ibrahim, two of the top backs on the squad who went down with season-ending injuries.

Those losses obviously didn’t affect the defense, however, which finished second in the Big Ten this season.