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Two of the biggest surprise teams in college football will square off in a battle of homecomings for their top players. That will boost interest in what promises to be a sentimental matchup as the bowl plays its final game at its historic Cotton Bowl location before moving to the Dallas Cowboys' stadium next season.
Texas Tech quarterback Graham Harrell will play close to his Ennis home in his final college game. And it could be the final game for 2007 Biletnikoff Award winner Michael Crabtree, who grew up in Dallas and is strongly considering declaring for the NFL draft.
Those homecomings aren't just for the Red Raiders. Jevan Snead returns to Texas after leaving the state to play for the Rebels, who he directed to unexpected success this season capped by an upset triumph at Florida. Snead played high-school football in nearby Stephenville and even had a turn with the Texas Longhorns before transferring when he couldn't beat out Colt McCoy for the Longhorns' starting job.
Texas Tech's potent passing offense will be tested by an underrated Mississippi defense that ranked 15th nationally in total defense. The Rebels are solid offensively, mirroring the Red Raiders' defense with steady production.
The Red Raiders' hopes of finishing off the winningest season in school history could depend on a big finish from Crabtree and Harrell. And playing close to home could give them the inspiration to do just that.