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The Holiday Bowl: Arizona State Sun Devils vs. Texas Tech Red Raiders Pick-Odds-Prediction 12/30/13

Texas Tech Red Raiders (7-5) at Arizona State Sun Devils (10-3)

College Football: Monday, December 30, 2013 at 10:15 pm (Qualcomm Stadium)

The Line: Arizona State Sun Devils -13 -- Over/Under: 72 See the Latest Odds


Storyline: The Holiday Bowl showcases a 14th-ranked Arizona State side that saw its Rose Bowl dreams squashed by Stanford in the PAC-12 title game up against a Texas Tech team that fell victim to a backloaded schedule and ended the season with five straight losses.

The Breakdown: The Sun Devils took two of their first three games to begin the season, routing Sacramento State and upsetting #20 Wisconsin in one of the strangest finishes ever witnessed, before falling 42-28 to Stanford. Arizona State would then hiccup once more against Notre Dame before finishing the regular season on a 7-game winning streak, including wins over #20 Washington and #14 UCLA, leading to a #11 ranking and a spot in the PAC-12 Championship game where the Sun Devils were turned away by Stanford 38-14 for the second time this season.

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The Holiday Bowl: Arizona State Sun Devils vs. Texas Tech Red Raiders Pick-Odds-Prediction  12/30/13

Michael C. Johnson-USA TODAY Spo

Arizona State brings the FBS’s 9th best scoring offense at 41.0 points per outing, its 29th-ranked passing offense at 276.8 yards, and its 47th-ranked ground game at 184.0 yards per contest. The Sun Devils are led by junior QB Taylor Kelley (3,510 YDs, 28 TDs, 11 INTs), who needs just three TD passes to set a new single season school record. Senior RB Marion Grice (996 YDs, 14 TDs), the Sun Devil’s biggest home-run threat, is listed as doubtful for the game due to a leg injury, leaving sophomore D.J. Foster (369 YDs, 5 TDs) and junior Deantre Lewis (300 YDs, 1 TD) the likely candidates to shoulder the load at running back. Kelley’s top target is Redshirt Sophomore WR Jaelen Strong (71 REC, 1,094 YDs, 7 TDs), the nation’s 29th most productive receiver. On the defensive side, Arizona State owns the nation’s 58th-ranked scoring defense, allowing 25.8 points per outing. Senior DT Will Sutton (44 Tackles, 4 sacks) and junior LB Carl Bradford (59 Tackles, 8.5 Sacks) are this unit’s standouts.

Texas Tech, meanwhile, had maybe the biggest win-loss swing of any team in the FBS, ripping through their first seven games in mostly blowout fashion and reaching the #10 ranking before being chewed up and spit out by the Big 12 gauntlet in five straight, including blowout losses to Oklahoma State, Baylor and Texas in the season finale.

Despite having the nation’s second-ranked passing game at 392 yards per outing, the Red Raiders have had to endure several quarterback controversies this season, which apparently have yet to end. The latest news has true freshman Baker Mayfield (2,315 YDs, 12 TDs, 9 INTs), who won the start just before the opener then suffered an injury, requesting a transfer. When Mayfield went down in week 5, first year coach Kliff Kingsbury turned to true freshman Davis Webb (2,315 YDs, 16 TDs, 9 INTs) for five games before Mayfield came back against Kansas State. Now redshirt sophomore Michael Brewer (65 YDs, 1 TD) has been named the starter after seeing limited action in one game this season. Whoever’s under center will have a couple of the best receivers in college football at their disposal in junior TE Jace Amaro (98 REC, 1,240 YDs, 7 TDs), the nation’s 13th-ranked receiver, and senior WR Eric Ward (80 REC, 904 YDs, 8 TDs). Defensively, Tech brings the 90th-ranked scoring defense at 31.2 points per.

Rick’s Pick: The line in this one is currently set at -13 for Arizona State with a massive 72 point total. These two average a combined 76.7 points per, but there are a few variables to consider. Brewer’s a question mark, but Webb will likely get in the game at some point, and  ASU’s home-run guy, Grice, is likely out.  Which adds up to a closer game than the spread might indicate and less points as well. The under looks like the play.

Follow me on Twitter @ SCPRick

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