Arizona State plays Texas Tech in the National University Holiday Bowl. Here’s everything you need to know about the game.
It’s a matchup of two teams going in very different directions. No. 14 Arizona State is looking for its first 11-win season since 1996 and lost only three games – twice to Stanford, including in the Pac-12 championship game. Their high-octane offense averaged 41 points per game and a whopping 5,990 yards of total offense.
After a 7-0 start, the Red Raiders come limping into the game as losers of five straight. If that’s not bad enough, QB Baker Mayfield quit the team earlier this month. First-year coach Kliff Kingsbury, 33, was a standout quarterback for the team a decade ago. He’s the second-youngest coach in college football.
Who to Watch
Arizona State: QB Taylor Kelly threw for 3,510 yards and 28 touchdowns. He also ran for 473 yards and eight more scores. Defensive tackle Will Sutton is a two-time Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year. Mira Mesa High School product Kevin Ozier caught 21 passes this season and will play his last collegiate game.
Texas Tech: Tight end Jace Amaro was named a unanimous All-American. He led the team with 1,240 receiving yards and caught seven touchdowns. Freshman Davis Webb, who filled in for Mayfield at QB, threw for 415 yards in his first start midway through the season. He and Michael Brewer are battling for the starting job. Junior defensive back Dorian Crawford is a Scripps Ranch High School grad.
Texas Tech is playing in its 36th bowl game (13-22-1) and making its second appearance in the Holiday Bowl. The last time it was in San Diego, the Red Raiders upset No. 4 California, 45-31, in 2004. They have won three straight bowl games, including last season’s 34-31 win over Minnesota in the Meineke Car Care Bowl.
Arizona State is 13-12-1 in bowl games, including three losses in the Holiday Bowl. The Sun Devils last played here in 2007, a 52-34 loss to Texas. They have played in two straight bowl games, including a 62-28 win over Navy in the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl last year.
Arizona State coach Todd Graham: "It's going to be an exciting game. I think it will be a fun game. They won't want their money back, it will be an exciting game to watch, no question about it. We obviously have our hands full."
Texas Tech coach Kliff Kingsbury: "We had some young guys and some young quarterbacks and you look at our turnover margin, we're second to last in the country. It’s hard to be consistent and be a good team doing that and penalties have plagued us all year. Those two areas slowed us down.
I thought our effort was good the entire year on film. I just think we have to clean up in a lot of areas and grow up."
Who Will Win
Arizona State is a heavy favorite, giving as many as 13 points. It should be a high-scoring affair, but as long as they don’t turn the ball over, the Sun Devils should prevail.