#14 Arizona State Sun Devils (10-3) vs. Texas Tech Red Raiders (7-5) 12/30- 10:15PM EST
NATIONAL UNIVERSITY HOLIDAY BOWL- San Diego, CA
Line: ASU -14.0
The 14th ranked Arizona State Sun Devils will be heavy favorites against the struggling Texas Tech Red Raiders in Monday night’s Holiday Bowl as they will be in search of an 11-win season.
The feat of winning 11 games in a season has only been accomplished five times in program history, but they like their chances against a Red Raiders team that lost five straight to end the season.
ASU (10-3) missed going to the Rose Bowl after getting blown out at home 38-14 in the Pac-12 title game to Stanford. That win would’ve sent the Sun Devils to Pasadena for the first time since the 1996 season. That was also the last time the Sun Devils notched 11 wins in a season.
“I really thought we were going to win. I really did,” said coach Todd Graham. “We made mistakes and it took us a little long to make adjustments.”
Despite the loss, the Sun Devils had a great year winning eight league games by an average of 19.7 points, including wins over ranked Washington and UCLA. Coach Graham was named Pac-12 Coach of the Year in just his second season at Arizona State.
The Sun Devils have struggled in San Diego, where they are 0-3 all time in the Holiday Bowl, with their most recent loss back in 2007 to Texas 52-34.
For the Red Raiders (7-5), it’s been a tale of two seasons, where back in mid-October they were ranked as high as 10 before a 38-30 loss to then-No. 17 Oklahoma that sent them into a tail-spin losing five consecutive games to end the season.
Texas Tech lost their next four games after that defeat by an average of 23.8 points, including a 41-16 loss at Texas to end the regular-season.
To add salt in the wound, Big 12 Offensive Freshman of the Year, quarterback Baker Mayfield informed coach Kliff Kingsbury on Dec. 11 he intends to transfer. Mayfield was a walk-on, won the starting job and threw for 2,315 yards and totaled 15 touchdowns in eight games.
Of Mayfield’s departure, Kingsbury said… “I didn’t see it coming.
“We had a good talk. He didn’t give me many specifics as to why. But he definitely emphasized that he was ready to move on,” said Kingsbury.
So, with Mayfield out of the picture for Monday night, Kingsbury will choose between Davis Webb and Michael Brewer to lead the nation’s second-leading passing offense at 392.0 yards per contest. Kingsbury will announce the starter before game time, but fellow freshman Webb seems to be the strong favorite with 16 touchdown tosses on the year.
The Red Raiders defense has been anything but during their five-game skid allowing an average of 504.6 yards, including 294.0 on the ground, which bolds well for ASU running back Marion Grice who averages 5.2 yards per carry with 14 touchdowns.
Texas Tech’s tight end Jace Amaro will be the main target as he has 1,240 receiving yards and is 89 yards short of the NCAA single-season record by a tight-end.
However, with Texas Tech’s recent slump and with the departure of their starting quarterback, the oddsmakers have made the Sun Devils a huge (minus -14.0) point favorite for Monday night, but as always, get the latest spread on the game up until game time right here at Wonder Punter.
The Red Raiders will be trying to improve to 2-0 in the Holiday Bowl, but I like and predict the Sun Devils to get their first Holiday Bowl victory winning big.
Prediction/Pick: Arizona State
By Mario Martinez- Wonder Punter