Texas Tech (6-6) vs. South Florida (9-2)
Noon ET Saturday, December 23 (ESPN)
South Florida -2.5, O/U: 66.5
HOW THESE TEAMS GOT HERE
Texas Tech: The Red Raiders survived a four-game losing streak in the middle of the season to get bowl eligible. After starting 4-1 with wins over Arizona State and Houston, Tech lost to West Virginia, Iowa State, Oklahoma and Kansas State. After beating Baylor and losing to TCU, a win over Texas in the final week of the season got Texas Tech to 6-6 and bowl eligibility.
South Florida: The Bulls are a loss (and subsequent win) away from being where Central Florida is in the Peach Bowl. The final week of the regular season was a winner-take-all matchup for the American Athletic Conference’s East Division. UCF survived 49-42 to go on to the AAC title game and beat Memphis for the conference title and a spot in the Peach Bowl. Charlie Strong’s team has scored more than 30 points in nine of its games this season.
PLAYERS TO WATCH
Nic Shimonek, QB, Texas Tech: That win over Texas came without Shimonek starting the game. It was an odd decision by coach Kliff Kingsbury, who apparently thought freshman McLane Carter would provide a spark. Instead, it was Shimonek who provided that spark. After replacing Carter in the second half, the senior led Tech to a comeback win. Shimonek has completed 68 percent of his passes and thrown 30 touchdowns to eight interceptions.
Quinton Flowers, QB, South Florida: Flowers had a massive game in that Central Florida loss and should be considered as a mid-to-late round draft pick in May’s draft. Flowers passing stats aren’t eye-popping; he’s completed just 53 percent of his passes for exactly 2,600 yards. But he’s also USFs leading rusher with 972 yards and 10 rushing touchdowns. Make sure to savor Flowers’ last college game.
WHY YOU SHOULD WATCH
This game is probably going to take four hours, so if you have plans on the Saturday before Christmas you can check in at 3:30 p.m. ET and still catch the final half of the fourth quarter. We’re also a bit surprised the over/under in this game is below 70. This could be a game where the first one to 50 wins.
WHAT’S ON THE LINE
USF is going for its second-straight Birmingham Bowl win. A year ago the Bulls beat South Carolina for the Birmingham Bowl title under interim coach TJ Weist. Texas Tech, meanwhile, hasn’t won a bowl game since beating Arizona State in the 2013 Holiday Bowl.
Nick: South Florida 47, Texas Tech 43
Sam: Texas Tech 37, South Florida 35
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