Three reasons why you should watch the Birmingham Bowl, why each team might win, honest thoughts, line and prediction.
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Texas Tech (6-6) vs. USF (9-2)
Date: Saturday, December 23rd
Game Time: 12:00 pm
Venue: Legion Field, Birmingham, AL
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The Bowl Matchup Ranking Of Awesomeness
(1 best-39 worst): 5 out of 39
Three Reasons Why You Should Watch The Birmingham Bowl
– The offenses should go ballistic. Here you go, America. USF has the nation’s ninth-best offense, and while the defensive statistics look nice overall, don’t believe it – the secondary can be bombed on. Texas Tech is 17th un the nation in total offense, and while the run defensive statistics have improved, don’t believe it – the front seven can be run on. Oh yes, you will have fun with this.
– Texas Tech, traditionally, doesn’t know how to play boring bowls. Yes, new year, new team, the past doesn’t matter, blah, blah, blah – it’s Texas Tech. Even when it’s getting blown out – like it did in the 2015 Texas Bowl against LSU losing 56-27 – the points are flying. The program is 9-3 in its last 12 bowl games, and only the 13-10 loss to Alabama in the 2006 Cotton Bowl wasn’t a wild and zany shootout.
– USF, traditionally, doesn’t know how to play boring bowls. Yes, new year, new team, the past doesn’t matter, blah, blah, blah – it’s USF. The Bulls have won four of their last five bowl games going back to 2008, and that includes last year’s 46-39 overtime shootout win in last year’s Birmingham Bowl over a South Carolina team that wasn’t exactly known for its firepower.
Here’s Why Texas Tech Will Win The Birmingham Bowl
– Don’t go by the stats; the USF pass defense is just okay. The Bulls didn’t face a whole slew of high-powered passing teams, and when it did, it got hit for 373 yards and four scores by UCF, and allowed 306 yards to East Carolina. The Texas Tech passing game hasn’t exactly been razor sharp, but it’s still strong enough to hit the 300-yard mark without breathing hard.
The time off will help. Nic Shimonek is back as the starting quarterback after saving the day against Texas, and the bumps and bruises across the offense should be okay.
– The Red Raiders are great at getting the ball. The offense doesn’t take a whole slew of chances, and it doesn’t give up the ball. Ball security is a must against the aggressive Bull defense that comes up with takeaways in bunches. The Red Raiders led the Big 12 in turnover margin and takeaways. Texas Tech is 5-0 when winning the takeaway battle.
– USF is really, really awesome at getting flagged. The Bulls are second-to-last in the nation in penalties, getting cranked for over nine a game for close to 85 yards. That might not matter too much in a game that should be a big-time shootout, but the Red Raider defense will take any sort of stop it can get.
Here’s Why USF Will Win The Birmingham Bowl
– Quinton Flowers. It’s the last game in the magnificent career of the do-it-all USF quarterback, and he knows how to play in this game. Last year the Birmingham Bowl MVP hit 72% of his throws for 261 yards and two scores, and ran for 105 yards and three touchdowns in the win. With 24 touchdown passes and 18 touchdown runs, he’s the featured star – the Texas Tech defensive front isn’t good enough to slow him down.
The big problem is going to be …
– Texas Tech doesn’t come up with plays in the backfield. This used to be an aggressive defense that attacked and then attacked some more, but that didn’t work. This year, the Red Raiders finished dead last in the Big 12 in tackles for loss and ninth in sacks. Give Flowers time to work, and there’s going to be a big, big problem.
– No, the USF secondary isn’t a brick wall, but the defensive front knows how to get into the backfield. It’s not about getting sacks against Texas Tech – the quarterbacks get the ball out of their hands too quickly – but generating pressure is a must. USF led the American Athletic Conference in sacks and tackles for loss. 23 Bulls have registered plays behind the line – they bring the heat from everywhere.
You’ve Read This Far, So You Get Three Honest Thoughts On The Birmingham Bowl
– This is hardly a make-or-break moment for Kliff Kingsbury, but considering there was a whole lot of grumbling going on before his team came up with a win to become bowl eligible, a third losing season in four years won’t look right. He’s back in 2018 no matter what happens, but he could use the offseason momentum of a bowl win in a big way.
– This is nice, but considering USF was everyone’s preseason favorite to get to a New Year’s Six game, 9-2 and the Birmingham Bowl is a bit of a disappointment in Charlie Strong’s first run. UCF is having the season USF should’ve had.
The biggest issue? Bum-slaying. The Bulls came up with a great record with just one win over a team going bowling. If whacking Temple is your high point, it’s not the year you’re probably hoping for. Beating Texas Tech would be a wonderful capper for a ten-win campaign.
– For whatever reason, Texas Tech was better away from Lubbock. The Red Raiders went on the road and beat the Houston team that beat USF, and was 4-2 overall in road and neutral site games and 2-4 at home. That included the clutch win at Texas to get here – the team seems to handle road pressure just fine.
Super. So Who’s Going To Win The Birmingham Bowl?
The team with the ball last?
Kansas and Eastern Washington were the only two teams to not score at least 23 points against the Texas Tech D, but the team is used to shootouts.
Flowers will get his yards and his big plays, and USF’s defense will live behind the line at times, but after struggling over the second half of the season, the Texas Tech passing game will come alive at just the right time.
Motivation won’t be a problem for the Red Raiders. They’ll carry that Texas momentum to a bowl win that will require at least 24 points to apply to win this.
Texas Tech 37, USF 34
– More Bowl Info & Get Tickets
USF -2.5, o/u: 67.5
ATS Confidence: 2
5: Being in the bar already
0: Watching ball drop … and then trying to get into the bar
Must See Rating: 4
5: New Year’s Eve: Ministry of Sound, Defected London NYE
0: New Year’s Eve with Maroon 5, Las Vegas
Birmingham Bowl History, Results
Dec. 29, 2016 USF 46, South Carolina 39 OT
Dec. 30, 2015 Auburn 31 Memphis 10
Jan. 3, 2015 Florida 28 East Carolina 20
Jan. 4, 2014 Vanderbilt 41 Houston 24
Jan. 5, 2013 Mississippi 38 Pittsburgh 17
Jan. 7, 2012 SMU 28 Pittsburgh 6
Jan. 8, 2011 Pittsburgh 27 Kentucky 10
Jan. 2, 2010 Connecticut 20 South Carolina 7
Dec. 29, 2008 Rutgers 29 N.C. State 23
Dec. 22, 2007 Cincinnati 31 Southern Miss 21
Dec. 23, 2006 USF 24 East Carolina 7