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TicketCity Bowl Preview: Northwestern, Texas Tech Battle in the Actual Cotton Bowl

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TicketCity Bowl, January 1, 12:00 p.m. ET, ESPNU

What it is: A secondary bowl whose interest and importance lies more in the site of the game than the game itself.

The teams: Northwestern and Texas Tech

How Northwestern got here: The Wildcats end up here largely because of defeating bad teams. They did upset Iowa, but the only other squad Northwestern beat with more than three wins was 6-5 Illinois State of I-AA. They pushed Michigan State in their best loss of the year, but they also lost to Purdue, got hammered by 6-6 Illinois, and allowed Wisconsin to roll up 70 on them. As has been the case for the last decade or so, Northwestern was led by a plucky dual threat quarterback in Dan Persa, but he ruptured his Achilles on the game-winning touchdown pass against the Hawkeyes in November.

How Texas Tech got here: It all started late last season when stories about the mistreatment of Craig James's son Adam came out. They were largely bunk, but Tech's administration used them to fire Mike Leach. In came Tommy Tuberville, who promised not to monkey with the offense too much. He made a curious OC hire in Neal Brown, who worked under and succeeded Tony Franklin at Troy. True to Tuberville's nature, the Red Raiders attempted about 100 fewer passes and 100 more runs this year than last. They somehow beat Missouri, but they lost badly to Texas, Iowa State, Texas A&M, Oklahoma State, and Oklahoma. In most of those games, the offense was closer to 2008 Auburn than anything seen under Leach's watch.

College football fans care because: It's a chance to see a game played in the actual Cotton Bowl stadium, as the Cotton Bowl game has moved to the opulent Dallas Cowboys palace.

SEC fans care because: Tuberville's involved with this one, and he has a chance to beat a Big Ten team.

Watch this game if...: You get ESPNU and for some reason prefer to watch a Big 12 team and Big Ten team instead of the SEC squads in the Outback, Capital One, and Gator Bowls which are going on at the same time.

The result: Texas Tech 31, Northwestern 27