Arizona State (10-3) vs. Texas Tech (7-5)
Monday, Dec. 30, 10:15 p.m. EST, ESPN
Line: Arizona State by 13.0
How Arizona State got here: ASU enjoyed some signature victories in Todd Graham’s second season in Tempe. The Sun Devils defeated Wisconsin (32-30), USC (62-41), Washington (53-24) and UCLA (38-33). The win over the Trojans cost Lane Kiffin his job. ASU also closed the regular season on a seven-game winning streak that led to a spot in the Pac-12 title game — a 38-14 loss to Stanford.
How Texas Tech got here: After opening the season 7-0 and riding high with the young, gun-slinging head coach, it looked like Tech could compete for a Big 12 title. Instead, the Red Raiders are limping into the Holiday Bowl after five consecutive losses. Now Tech had the benefit of the easy games coming early, but Kliff Kingsbury’s team didn’t ride the momentum well. QB Baker Mayfield who began the season as a starter after walking on has since left the program.
For Arizona State to win: The Sun Devils are ranked 14th in the nation and lost just three games this season — two of them to Stanford. If ASU’s offense plays up to its potential the Sun Devils should win this one easily. It’s hard to believe Arizona State won’t pick apart Tech’s defense.
For Texas Tech to win: Tech has a young team and had a bad habit of turning the ball over. Inexperienced teams will do that when they start pressing. The Red Raiders must hold onto the football, and hopefully Kingsbury has used the extra practice time well and we see the Texas Tech from the first seven weeks.
Key Player (Arizona State): Taylor Kelly, QB. He threw for 3,510 yards and 28 touchdowns, while also running for 473 yards and eight more touchdowns. He’s a serious threat, but nothing Tech hasn’t seen before. So he’ll need to play his game to make sure the Sun Devils roll in this game.
Key Player (Texas Tech): Jace Amaro, TE. The All-American leads the Red Raiders with 1,240 receiving yards and seven touchdowns. The 6-foot-6, 260-pounder is tough to cover and runs hard after he gets the ball. When Tech gets the ball in Amaro’s hands the offense is tough to stop.
Key Stat: 11. With a win Arizona State will get its first 11-win season since 1996 when Bruce Snyder was the coach and Jake Plummer was the quarterback.