Submitted by Jim Hurley on Sunday, December 29, 2013 at 7:00 PM
The parade of college football bowl action thus far has lacked drama. With a few exceptions, it’s mostly been blowout after blowout. And, Monday brings a couple of games with double digits pointspreads! One of those is the prime time affair matching Texas Tech and Arizona State in the Holiday Bowl. The Sun Devils are currently a two-touchdown favorite…amidst a bowl stretch where even small favorites are winning by that much!
It would be great for entertainment purposes if Texas Tech could make this interesting. The problem is, they were blowout fodder over the last month of regular season action vs. teams who were comparable to or worse than ASU. After starting the season 7-0…then playing a tough game at overrated but respected Oklahoma, THIS happened:
Texas Tech (+1) lost to Oklahoma State 52-34
Texas Tech (-2) lost to Kanas State 49-26
Texas Tech (+28) lost to Baylor 63-34 (in Dallas)
Texas Tech (+5) lost at Texas 41-16
Only one true road game in the bunch, the season finale in Austin where the Red Raiders missed the spread by 20 points. They were off the mark in their two home games by 19 and 25 points. What a collapse!
Can THAT team hang tough with Arizona State on a neutral field? The team that beat Arizona 58-21, beat Hawaii Bowl winner Oregon State 30-17, beat Fight Hunger Bowl winner Washington 53-24, and beat Las Vegas Bowl winner USC 62-41?!
Let’s dig through our standard preview numbers to see if there’s any hope…
Won-Lost Records (strength of schedule)
Texas Tech: 7-5 (#55 schedule in USA Today)
Arizona St.: 10-3 (#2 schedule in USA today)
Arizona was a 10-win team while playing one of the toughest schedules in the nation. Texas Tech established that they can run up the score on bad teams during their hot start. But, they were badly outclassed once they ran into bowl caliber opposition. No evidenced here for an upset.
Texas Tech: 5.8 on offense, 5.4 on defense
Arizona St.: 5.9 on offense, 5.5 on defense
This provides some hope. These two teams actually had the same per-play differential at +0.4. Arizona State did that against a tougher schedule. So, they’re still the superior team. But, at least you can see how Tech can stay on the field with the Sun Devils. Play-by-play, they’re fairly similar.
Texas Tech: -13
Arizona St.: +14
Here’s where it all fell apart for Texas Tech. They looked like Arizona State in terms of moving the ball. They were nothing like Arizona State when it came to HOLDING ONTO the ball! If you’re the type of handicapper who believes turnovers are random, this is a great indicator for an upset. If you think that mistake-prone teams implode vs. quality, then it’s another reason not to invest in Tech.
Texas Tech: 5-7 ATS
Arizona St.: 7-6 ATS
Tech went 0-5 ATS against teams who qualified for bowls. That means the market significantly overrated them in challenge games. Arizona State did mix in some poor ATS results with the blowouts we listed earlier. They couldn’t cover against Wisconsin or Notre Dame (what a schedule!). They barely survived straight up in Utah. And, they went 0-2 straight up and ATS against Rose Bowl bound Stanford. That at least suggests there’s a chance for Tech to compete, particularly if they avoid turnovers.
Current Line: Arizona State by 14, total 71
If Tech avoids costly miscues, and brings 60 minutes of energy (instead of the 30 minutes they could only manage vs. Baylor in Dallas), then things could get very interesting. If not, America will once again be going to bed early on bowl night because there’s nothing worth watching!
JIM HURLEY may or may not have a big play in the Monday nightcap. But, the full GRAND SLAM of Monday action will be getting serious attention. Get the very best from the Armed Forces, Music City, Alamo, and Holiday Bowls right here at the website with your credit card Monday morning. Be sure to take care of business EARLY because of the daytime starts!
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Back with your tomorrow to preview Duke/Texas A&M in the Tuesday prime-timer. The schedule after that:
Wednesday: Baylor vs. Central Florida in the Fiesta Bowl
Thursday: Alabama vs. Oklahoma in the Sugar Bowl
Friday: Ohio State vs. Clemson in the Orange Bowl
Saturday and Sunday: NFL Wildcard Games
Monday: BCS Championship (Florida State vs. Auburn)
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