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2013 Holiday Bowl - Texas Tech 37, ASU 23

2013 Holiday Bowl - Texas Tech 37, ASU 23

2013-2014 Bowls - CFN's Preview & Prediction for the 2013 National University Holiday Bowl

National University Holiday Bowl
Texas Tech 37, Arizona State 23
Basically … Texas Tech jumped out to a 13-0 lead on two of Davis Webb's four first half touchdown passes, and took a 27-6 lead on his other two helped by pass plays of 18 and 21 yards out to Jakeem Grant and a 23-yard play to Bradley Marquez. A flat Arizona State spent the game chasing, and came back with a 20-yard D.J. Foster touchdown run midway through the second quarter and starting out the second half hot with a 44-yard Taylor Kelly run to pull the Sun Devils within seven. But just when the momentum started to shift, Texas Tech took it right back as Reginald Davis returned the ensuing kickoff for a 90-yard touchdown. Down 37-23 ASU still had several chances to get back in the game in the fourth, but Richard Davis couldn't control a perfectly thrown bomb for a score that would've made it a seven-point game, and the Red Raiders held firm.

- Passing yards: Texas Tech 403 – Arizona State 125
- Texas Tech QB Davis Webb completed 28-of-41 passes for 403 yards and four scores.
- Texas Tech TE Jace Amaro caught eight passes for 112 yards.
- Texas Tech WR Reginald Davis returned three kicks for 113 yards and a score, and caught one pass for 38 yards.
- Arizona State QB Taylor Kelly completed 16-of-29 passes for 125 yards with a pick, and he ran 25 times for 135 yards and a score.
- Arizona State RB D.J. Foster ran 20 times for 132 yards and a score, and caught five passes for 23 yards.
- Texas Tech LB Will Smith made 14 tackles with two tackles for loss.

CFN PREVIEW

Texas Tech (7-5) vs. Arizona State (10-3) Dec. 30, 10:15, ESPN

Here's The Deal … There's a chance this could be an ugly blowout if Texas Tech plays to its second half form and Arizona State plays up to its full capabilities, but it should be a whole bunch of fun.

Bowls should be wild and fun and entertaining, and this one will certainly be amusing with lots of passing, lots of offense and plenty of fireworks, but can the Sun Devils do what they're supposed to do and make it a wild and crazy affair tilted to their side?

Arizona State overcame a should've-been-loss win over Wisconsin, a thumping from Stanford and a loss to Notre Dame to reel off seven straight wins to take the South and get to the Pac-12 title game, but even with a second blowout loss to Stanford, this was a hugely successful season with head coach Todd Graham putting together a nice early run to his era. All of a sudden, ASU is becoming a power program again, but this was a Pac-12 division champion and it has to take care of business against a team that's limping in on an ugly losing streak.

With a 7-0 start and the buzz around the good looks of head coach Kliff Kingsbury, everything was going right for Texas Tech until a funny thing happened – real teams started appearing on the schedule.

None of the seven wins came against teams that went to bowl games, and all five losses came against post-season squads. The Red Raiders pushed hard against Oklahoma, but the defense decided to take the month of November off allowing 205 points in the final four games losing to Oklahoma State, Kansas State, Baylor and Texas.

A win over Arizona State would change the narrative and would all but erase the rough finishing kick, but a loss, especially an ugly one, would put the pressure on Kingsbury and the program to show that it has the potential to be a player. It's one thing to look great, but a win over ASU would start to provide a little more substance.

Kingsbury is a star in the making with the right personality and offensive mind to be the one to take the program to another level, but for now, he has to compete with a terrific recent bowl past. Tech has won three straight bowls, five of its last six and eight of its last ten after losing to Iowa in the 2001 Alamo Bowl. Red Raider bowl games have been among the best in recent seasons with five of the last seven decided by seven points or fewer, and often in dramatic fashion.

Graham has turned around the Arizona State bowl slide, winning the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl over Navy 62-28 after the Sun Devils had lost three straight bowl games and six of its previous eight. He and the Sun Devils will fight for the Pac-12's honor after the conference has lost three of the last four Holiday Bowls.

If recent games are any indication, this won't be pretty. The last seven Holiday Bowls and eight of the last nine have been double-digit blowouts.

Mr. Kingsbury has to come up with something special to buck the trend.

Players to Watch: Arizona State senior DT Will Sutton has been exactly what the team has needed for the last few years as the catalyst for the attacking defense. He surprised everyone by not turning pro early, and he came through with another great year making 11.5 tackles for loss with 44 stops and four sacks. It wasn't the 13 sack, 23.5 tackle-for-loss juggernaut of a season like he had in 2012, but he's still a dominant interior defender who can get into the backfield on a regular basis.

Washington's Austin Seferian-Jenkins won the Mackey Award, but Texas Tech's Jace Amaro>/strong> was the nation's best tight end. The 6-5, 260-pound receiver is the perfect fit for the offense catching 98 passes for 1,240 yards with seven scores, getting red hot in the middle of the season with a run of four straight 100-yard games highlighted by a 15-grab, 174-yard, one-score day against Oklahoma State. More than just a safety valve, he can stretch the field and be a primary weapon who needs to be accounted for on every pass play.

The star of the TCU win and the early season, Texas Tech quarterback Baker Mayfield chose to transfer, and now Kingsbury has an interesting situation. Michael Brewer was going the be The Guy before suffering a back injury, but he was never able to beat out Mayfield or Davis Webb in practices. Now he might get his chance, and he'll get to wing it around. However. Webb showed what he could do in place of Mayfield completing 62% of his throws for 2,315 yards and 16 touchdowns. However, the freshman threw nine picks. Great at cranking up the yards, he went on a midseason tear throwing for 415 yards against Iowa State, 462 against West Virginia before throwing for 385 against Oklahoma and 425 against Oklahoma State, but he's not much of a runner. Brewer has the bigger upside, but Webb has shown he could play.

Arizona State QB Taylor Kelly can sling it around a little bit, too. Ultra-efficient, the 6-2, 202-pounder followed up a great 2002, connecting on a school-record 67% of his passes and followed it up by hitting 63% of his throws with 3,510 yards and 26 touchdowns after pitching for 3,039 last year with 29 scores. A great all-around playmaker, last year he was one of the biggest stars of the bowl season destroying Navy gong 17-of-19 for 267 yards and four scores, and running seven times for 81 yards and a touchdown. He doesn't have to do everything for the ASU offense against the Red Raiders, but he needs to have a strong game.

Texas Tech will win if … it keeps the interceptions to a bare minimum. Considering all Texas Tech likes to do is throw, giving up lots of picks is part of the deal, but Arizona State throws a lot, too, and it doesn't give the ball away. Texas Tech has to be perfect. It has to win the turnover battle, it can't commit a slew of ill-timed penalties, and it has to keep the chains moving and maintain control of the ball. Basically, Texas Tech can't be Texas Tech. Arizona State doesn't screw up, ranking fourth in the nation in fewest penalties and sixth in turnover margin, while the Red Raiders are at the opposite end of the spectrum. Tech can't manhandle ASU like Stanford did, and it can't push the ball deep or come up with the same ground game, but it can keep up the pace offensively by hitting the short-range third down passes and getting the ball out of the QB's hands in a hurry. The ASU pass rush can be neutralized with a good rhythm attack. However …

Arizona State will win if … it lets Texas Tech beat itself. This isn't a sound Red Raider team, and while it wants to keep the mistakes to a minimum, it just can't. As long as ASU doesn't press too hard and doesn't come up with a slew of costly errors, it should be able to come up with the win. The lines are far better, the running game is more of a factor and the pass rush is far, far superior. The key has to be to take away the first read and throwing lanes early on and make the Tech QB find the second and third targets. Fine, it's not like everyone hasn't tried to do that, but ASU has the secondary that can do it and the defensive line to pressure a bad throw. The Sun Devils should be able to force their own good breaks, especially defensively; the Red Raiders can't.

What Will Happen: Get ready for more of this matchup in the near future as the two teams agreed to a home-and-home series with the first one in Tempe in 2016 and the second in Lubbock in 2017. The two teams will combine for over 750 yards of passing, but ASU will add close to 200 yards on the ground with Kelly having a huge day and the defensive front taking control in the fourth quarter.

Prediction: Arizona State 48 … Texas Tech 27
Line: Arizona State -14 … o/u: 70.5
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