I’ve been waiting a few days for a nice looking matchup to come up on the bowl board and we finally have one. Are you sure you guys don’t watch to watch a rerun of Temple and FIU instead? Goodness, that was ugly. Texas Tech and South Florida should be able to provide a much more entertaining game. Texas Tech had a rough year, but they closed it out on a high note. The Red Raiders defeated the Texas Longhorns, 27-23, in the final game of the season to reach a bowl game. They ultimately landed on the Birmingham Bowl in Alabama. The win over Texas may have very well saved Kliff Kingsbury his job. Their defense was the most impressive, as they stepped up to frustrated Texas all game long. The Texas Tech defense has steadily gotten better over the last two years. Give Kingsbury credit there, he’s made it a point to get better on the defensive side of the ball.
Just for the defensive improvements alone, Kingsbury should keep his job. They had to say goodbye to the ultra-talented Patrick Mahomes last season, so it was a transitioning year at quarterback for the Red Raiders. If Mahomes was playing with this defense, he’d have Texas Tech in a much better bowl game. I could see a 3 loss team if he hadn’t moved on. Nic Shimonek has been up and down despite 30 touchdowns and 8 interceptions on the year. Oddly enough, he was benched in favor of a freshman in the Texas game. He came in for the second-half, though, and was responsible for the comeback against Texas. Kingsbury was trying to provide a spark, but it didn’t work out so well. He at least came to his senses and went back to Shimonek.
Texas Tech finished at 6-6 to affirm their up and down season. A win over South Florida would be a good win, though. South Florida are coming off a wild one against UCF in the AAC Championship. It was a bad and forth ending, with UCF on the receiving end of a conference championship. It really could have went either way, though. Quarterback Quinton Flowers put together a massive performance, with 4 passing touchdowns, 102 yards rushing and a touchdown on the ground. Flowers can do it all, whether it’s passing or with his legs. He’s a difficult quarterback to prepare for due to his unpredictability. Putting a spy on him would be the best way of going about containing him. We’ll see if the improved Texas Tech defense has an answer for him on Saturday in Birmingham. Head below for our free Texas Tech vs. South Florida pick in the Birmingham Bowl.
Texas Tech Red Raiders vs. South Florida Bulls Betting Odds:
Texas Tech +3 (-110)
vs. South Florida -3(-110)
Betting odds provided by Bovada.lv
Texas Tech vs. South Florida Pick:
Barring something crazy, Kingsbury is going to go with his starter, Nic Shimonek. Shimonek is not the same kind of player Mahomes was. He is a pocket-passer and won’t move around as much as Mahomes did at Texas Tech. Shimonek is certainly a rhythm quarterback. When he is in a groove he can be tough to slow down. When he came off the bench against Texas, he couldn’t miss his targets downfield. While it was considered a down year for the offense, they still averaged 468 yards for 17th in the nation. The Red Raiders also averaged 34.3 points per game. There are a plethora of schools out there who wish that’s what a down year is.
Texas Tech are going to need to keep up with Flowers and the USF offense. The Red Raider defense may have improved in the offseason, but they couldn’t have gotten much worse form where they were. Texas Tech finished 100th, allowing 434 yards per game. They will be tested against Flowers, who had the offense averaging 509 yards per game, 9th in the FBS. They finished the regular season with 38.3 points per game. Flowers put up giant numbers again this year. He threw for 21 touchdowns and 6 interceptions, while rushing for 972 yards and 10 touchdowns.
USF enters with the best scoring defense in the AAC. It’s a testament to their prolific defensive line. The Bulls were 1st in the AAC at defending the run, and 22nd in the FBS overall. Texas Tech really struggled to run the football this season. They finished 96th with 141.6 rushing yards per game and 4 yards per carry. It’s going to be difficult for them to establish the run in this game, especially considering South Florida is coming off an awful performance on defense. They should be motivated to come out better in the Birmingham Bowl. I expect them to be able to get after Shimonek in the backfield as well. With a motivated Flowers, playing in his final bowl game, I’d side with Charlie Strong and South Florida in this one. I can see Texas Tech getting too relaxed over this extended break after beating the Longhorns.
PICK: SOUTH FLORIDA -3 (-110)