Holiday Bowl preview: Texas Tech vs. Arizona State
The 2013-14 college football bowl season continues on Monday evening, as the Holiday Bowl takes place between Texas Tech and Arizona State in San Diego.
Here are some things to keep an eye on when you're tuned into the contest between the Red Raiders and the Sun Devils.
Texas Tech (7-5) vs. Arizona State (10-3)
December 30, 10:15 p.m. ET on ESPN
The Red Raiders raced out to a 7-0 start, helped by a very weak schedule, before dropping their final five regular season contests. Still, Kliff Kingsbury is a rock star in Lubbock. And his work with the young quarterbacks this season illustrates the instant impact he has had in his first year at Tech since returning to become the head coach. The Red Raiders currently rank second in the nation at 392 passing yards per game.
Meanwhile, the Sun Devils could not overcome their Stanford problem, getting physically dominated in the early part of the year and failing to earn a Rose Bowl bid with a loss to the Cardinal in the Pac-12 title game. But Todd Graham's program took a major step toward consistency this year, and the Sun Devils do have wins over Washington and UCLA on their resume.
Quarterback roulette: We don't know who will start at quarterback for the Red Raiders, as true freshman walk-on quarterback Baker Mayfield (who started seven games this season and was named the Big 12 offensive newcomer of the year) has decided to transfer due to "disagreements and miscommunications" with the coaching staff. So either fellow freshman Davis Webb (five starts) or sophomore Michael Brewer (the projected preseason starter before he dealt with a back injury) will get the nod. Brewer is the more talented of the two signal-callers.
Will Sutton is a gifted interior lineman who should stand out against Texas Tech.
Disruptive Sutton: Sun Devils defensive tackle Will Sutton may not have had the dominant season many had expected following his very strong 2012, but he definitely played much better as the season progressed after a slow start and after being consistently double-teamed. He was able to register 11.5 tackles for loss as well as the key interception in a one-point win over Utah and should be a disruptive force on Monday night. The two-time AP All-American and two-time Pac-12 defensive player of the year is a gifted interior lineman who should stand out against the Red Raiders.
Odds and ends: Arizona State is favored by 11.5 points ... The Sun Devils have won the only meeting between the schools ... Texas Tech All-America tight end Jace Amaro needs 14 catches and 90 yards to break NCAA single-season marks of 111 catches and 1,329 receiving yards for a tight end (held by James Casey of Rice in 2008) ... Marion Grice, who is likely out due to a lower leg injury, leads the Sun Devils with 996 rushing yards and 14 touchdowns, and he also has 50 catches for 438 yards and six scores ... ASU can finish with 11 wins for just the second time in 38 seasons ... Texas Tech finished the regular season with five straight losses by an average of 20.6 points ... Arizona State quarterback Taylor Kelly has thrown for 3,510 yards and 28 touchdowns, and he has rushed for 473 yards and eight more scores this year.
Dave Miller, the college football editor and writer for the National Football Post, is on Twitter @Miller_Dave.