December 30, 2013

Holiday Bowl: Arizona State vs. Texas Tech

Holiday Bowl Matchup: Arizona State Sun Devils vs. Texas Tech Red Raiders

Date/Time: December 30th, 10:15 ET

Television: ESPN

Holiday Bowl Odds from BetDSI

Point Spread: Arizona State -14.5

Total: 71.5

The 2013 Holiday Bowl pits a pair of teams that look nothing like one another against each other coming into the bowl season, as the Arizona State Sun Devils hope to avoid the embarrassment of losing to the Texas Tech Red Raiders.

The only concern we have with ASU is that it could be down about playing here in the Holiday Bowl instead of in the Rose Bowl. Still, this team was beaten three times this year, and there was no shame in losing twice to the Stanford Cardinal or to the Notre Dame Fighting Irish. Head Coach Todd Graham is a heady coach, and he really did a great job last year of getting his Sun Devils ready to ultimately blow out the Navy Midshipmen. QB Taylor Kelly threw for 3,510 yards and 28 TDs against 11 picks, but the hero of this team was clearly RB Marion Grice. Grice had 996 yards on the ground with 14 TDs, and he also caught 50 passes for 438 yards and six more TDs. WR Jaelen Strong had 1,094 yards and seven TDs as a receiver, and he averaged 15.4 yards per reception, easily the best mark on the team.

The Red Raiders have a lot more to talk about in this one. They have had a tumultuous season, winning their first seven games and being ranked in the Top 10 in the nation before falling apart in the last five games, losing all five and failing to cover all five. The defense was a sieve in those last five games, and the Arizona State offense has to be salivating at the idea of going up against this unit. Head Coach Kliff Kingsbury is going to have to call the shots offensively in this one, knowing that one of his top offensive assistants, another former T-Tech QB Sonny Cumbie is headed to the TCU Horned Frogs to take over their offense. What has really thrown this season into flux though, is the fact that QB Baker Mayfield is transferring and won’t be available for the bowl game. That leaves presumably just QB Davis Webb for this one, though QB Michael Brewer, who was expected to be the starter at the outset of the year, is also available. The trick is going to be getting WR Eric Ward into this one. Ward had just 904 yards and eight scores this year, and those numbers paled in comparison to what he was expected to have.

Though the Red Raiders have won three straight bowl games and are 5-1 SU in their last six bowls, they are just 1-5 ATS in those games. This is the first time in quite some time they have been sizeable underdogs in a bowl, and it will be interesting to see how they react. ASU won its first bowl game since 2005 last season against the Middies in the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl.

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Adam Markowitz

is a staff writer living in the Orlando area. He has covered NFL, MLB, college football, CFL, AFL, NBA, college basketball, NASCAR, golf, tennis, and the NHL for a number of various outlets in his career, and he has been published by a number of different media outlets, including the Orlando Sentinel and the Wall Street Journal.

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