Holiday Bowl preview: Arizona State vs. Texas Tech
Arizona State (10-3, 8-1 Pac-12) vs. Texas Tech (7-5, 4-5 Big 12)
December 30, 10:15 p.m. ET (ESPN)
Arizona State Players to Watch:
Taylor Kelly, QB—In games not against Stanford or Notre Dame, Kelly is 10-0 with a 3-to-1 interception ratio. He’s the undoubted leader of an offense that scores 41.0 points per game and has thrown for 300 yards or more in five different appearances this season.
Marion Grice, RB—Grice finished in the top five for all-purpose yards and scoring without playing in the Pac-12 Championship Game with a leg injury and is still questionable for the bowl game. Arizona State’s offense is at its best when he’s healthy and making plays.
Texas Tech Players to Watch:
Michael Brewer, QB—Coach Kliff Kingsbury is looking to switch things up after losing five straight, and that means a quarterback switch. Sophomore quarterback Michael Brewer has attempted 10 passes all year (58 career) and will be handed the reigns to the nation’s second-ranked pass offense.
Jace Amaro, TE—Amaro is one of the most athletic pass catchers in today’s game and he plays tight end. An incredibly versatile, athletic player, Amaro has recorded a team-high 98 receptions for 1,240 yards and seven touchdowns.
Arizona State Key to Victory:
Terrorize Michael Brewer. This is a matchup made in heaven for Arizona State, which ranks No. 6 in the nation with 40 sacks to Texas Tech’s 103rd-ranked pass protection (33 sacks allowed). It’ll be important for The Sun Devils to pressure Brewer, who hasn’t started a game all year and could be exposed by a ballhawking secondary that has 21 interceptions in 2013 (No. 3).
Texas Tech Key to Victory:
Hold Arizona State to under 35 points. This may sound corny, but Tech needs to show something—anything—on defense in order to have any sort of chance. The Red Raiders have allowed an insane 48.6 points per game during their five-game losing streak, and are 7-0 when holding the opponent to 35 points or less. Arizona State is a quality opponent, so 35 may still no win it, but it’ll definitely keep Kliff Kingsbury and Co. in the game.
Line: Arizona State (-14)
Prediction: Two of Arizona State’s three losses have come to arguably the biggest, most physical team in the country (Stanford). The Sun Devils entered the season with high expectations and in many aspects exceeded them, while Texas Tech started off hot against lower tier opponents and fell off the map after losing to the Big 12’s best. I’m not saying Texas Tech isn’t talented, but ASU is just in a different realm right now.
Arizona State 52, Texas Tech 27
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