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The Northwestern Wildcats and Texas Tech Red Raiders probably underachieved this year, but they are both going to be playing on Tobacco Road on New Year's Eve for the first of a four pack of NCAA football bowl games at the Ticket City Car Care Bowl. Which team will beat the college football betting lines? Check out our preview and our Ticket City Car Care Bowl picks.
Ticket City Bowl Matchup: Texas Tech Red Raiders vs. Northwestern Wildcats
Date: Saturday, January 1st, 12:00 ET
Location: Cotton Bowl Stadium, Dallas, TX
Ticket City Bowl Line: Texas Tech -9.5
Red Raiders Notes: True to his word, Head Coach Tommy Tuberville really did a nice job bringing at least a more well balanced attack between rushing and passing to Lubbock this year, but he also stayed true to the traditions of the team with its hurry up, shotgun offense. The Red Raiders flew up and down the field all year long, averaging 456.6 yards per game, 314.8 of which came through the air. These numbers ranked Texas Tech No. 17 and No. 8 in the land respectively. Tuberville would have preferred to see his team score a few more points this year, but especially in the rough and tumble Big XII, putting up 32.1 points per game was respectable. QB Taylor Potts is finishing up a great senior season in which he threw for 3,357 yards and 31 TDs, and he has a pair of great receivers to work with as well in WR Lyle Leong and WR Detron Lewis. Leong caught 64 passes this year, but more importantly, he had 17 TDs. On the ground, RBs Baron Batch and Eric Stephens combined to rush for over 1,400 yards, and each had five scores. The defense wasn't fantastic for Texas Tech, especially against opposing passing games. This unit ranked second to last in the country at 306.1 yards per game allowed, and the end result were averages of 453.7 yards and 30.3 points per game conceded. The Red Raiders had some miserable defensive efforts this year, most notably allowing 52 to the Iowa State Cyclones and 45 to the Oklahoma Sooners in Big XII play.
Wildcats Notes: Injuries are all over the place for the Wildcats in this one, as the team's top four rushers could all be sidelined. RB Mike Trumpy and RB Jacob Schmidt are dealing with injuries, while RB Arby Fields transferred a few weeks ago and won't be in Big D in this one. The biggest blow though, is the loss of QB Dan Persa. Persa did a fantastic job taking over for the departed QB Mike Kafka, who led the Cats to the Outback Bowl last season. Persa completed over 75 percent of his passes and had a great TD/INT ratio of 15/4, but he was also the team's second leading rusher with 519 yards on the ground, and he led the team in TDs to boot with nine. Since QB Evan Watkins has taken over, nothing good has happened, but the defense can be blamed just as much as the offense. Teams have rushed for over 800 yards on Northwestern over the course of the last two games of the season, and though the offense scored 50 points in total in those two efforts, the 'D' gave up a whopping 118. There's just no excuse for play like that, and the hope is that things really have been worked out before we see the Wildcats take on the Ticket City Bowl odds on Saturday.
The Final Word: The Wildcats haven't won a bowl game since 1949, and that was the only time in their history that they tasted bowl glory. There's just something about this crazy season and the crazy way that things have gone lately that makes us believe that Northwestern really has a chance of pulling this upset. Texas Tech has to believe that it has a shot to blow these Cats out of the water, but when push comes to shove, the extra time for Watkins in practice leading up to the Ticket City Bowl will probably help immensely. Don't be shocked if there is an upset in the cards.
Ticket City Bowl Free Pick: Northwestern +9.5
Ticket City Bowl Prediction: Northwestern 38 – Texas Tech 34