Thursday, December 23, 2010
Big 12 on the spot: TicketCity Bowl
By ESPN.com staff
Seven wins weren't what Texas Tech envisioned with 15 starters returning from a 9-4 team in 2009, but the transition from Mike Leach to Tommy Tuberville wasn't a simple one.
The Red Raiders kept alive the Big 12's longest streak without a losing season -- Texas Tech last did it in 1992 -- and figure to improve in 2011 under Tuberville. Before that happens they'll need to win a second game this season in Cotton Bowl Stadium, when they face Big Ten opponent Northwestern in the TicketCity Bowl.
Who needs to play well for the Red Raiders to do it?
Receivers Lyle Leong and Detron Lewis. Without injured quarterback Dan Persa, Northwestern was blown out by Illinois and Wisconsin, averaging just 25 points in the two games.
Illinois and Wisconsin are both primarily running teams, but the Wildcats rank 85th nationally against the pass. That means opportunity for Texas Tech's top two receivers. Leong and Lewis both topped 800 yards receiving, and Leong was second nationally with 17 touchdown catches. Add a few more, and the Red Raiders should be able to get the win.
They haven't been able to run the ball with a lot of consistency, but outside of a disastrous outing at Oklahoma, quarterback Taylor Potts made it look easy in wins over Missouri, Houston and Weber State, throwing for 10 touchdowns and two interceptions in Texas Tech's three wins to close the year.
Lewis and Leong can help that continue, and if they do, Texas Tech should be able to earn its seventh bowl win in nine seasons.