National University Holiday Bowl 2013 Preview: Arizona State Sun Devils vs. Texas Tech Red Raiders

Michael C. Johnson-USA TODAY Spo

Keep the Ron Burgundy jokes at a minimum, please.

National University Holiday Bowl, Monday, 10:15 pm ET, ESPN

Suggested slogan: You wish you were here.

The teams: Arizona State Sun Devils and Texas Tech Red Raiders

How Arizona State got here: The Sun Devils made big strides in the second year of Todd Graham's regime there, which goes to show that some good things can happen when he sticks around longer than one year. The Sun Devils had just three losses to two different teams, Notre Dame and Stanford (twice), though they did benefit from some officiating shenanigans to beat Wisconsin. The high-scoring offense has a nice big three in QB Taylor Kelly (over 3,500 yards), RB Marion Grice (will pass 1,000 in this game), and WR Jaelen Strong (1,094 yards). It's a dangerous team that could beat just about anyone.

How Texas Tech got here: Essentially by beating the teams it should have beaten and losing to the teams it should have lost to. TTU began the year 7-0, but that stretch of opponents consisted of three non-conference tomato cans and the four worst teams in the Big 12. After that the real schedule kicked in, and the Red Raiders lost five straight to the top five teams in the conference. They actually kept it close with Oklahoma, but the rest of the losses were by 18 points or more. The team is a little shaky right now, with primary quarterback Baker Mayfield abruptly deciding to transfer to walk on Oklahoma. Backup Davis Webb will fill in, just like he did for two wins and two losses while Mayfield was injured during the regular season.

College football fans care because: It's two high powered offenses going at it in San Diego. What's not to like? Plus, Tech's amazing tight end Jace Amaro has well over 1,200 receiving yards already and will pick up a bunch more here.

SEC fans care because: Texas Tech head coach Kliff Kingsbury helped make Johnny Football, Heisman Trophy winner happen on Texas A&M's staff. And, going off his pace and playing the odds, Todd Graham will probably coach your team before he's done.

Watch this game if...: You like to see the passing game. Both teams throw it around a lot. Also, watch it for the sideline shots of Kingsbury. So dreamy.

Bottom line: Arizona State is one of the better teams in one of the better conferences. The teams it lost to (or nearly did, in Wisconsin's case) are the burly, physicality-at-the-line type of teams. Texas Tech is not from that mold. No one will confuse the Red Raiders for Stanford any time soon. TTU is and should be overmatched here, as the Pac-12's still-terrible bowl tie ins pit its teams against lower ranked counterparts (this is Pac-12 No. 3 versus Big 12 No. 5, and ASU is technically No. 2 in the league). Given that Tech hasn't defeated anyone with a pulse, a win for it here would be a pretty big surprise.

Brandon's pick: Arizona State 37, Texas Tech 23

LineArizona State by 14.5

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