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Monday, December 30, 2013
Three keys for Texas Tech in Holiday Bowl

By Brandon Chatmon

Texas Tech coach Kliff Kingsbury can end his first season with a win over Arizona State Monday night in the National University Holiday Bowl (9:15 p.m. CT, ESPN).

But it won’t come easy. The Red Raiders will have to overcome their five-game losing streak and slow a high-scoring ASU offense.

Here are three keys for the Red Raiders in the Holiday Bowl:

Start fast. Texas Tech needs some confidence early. If the Red Raiders fall behind in the first quarter it will be easy for them to think, "Here we go again” and reflect on their lackluster final month. Thus a big play on offense or defense could supply the confidence they’ll need to knock off the Sun Devils.

Efficient offense. TTU won’t be able to simply shut down a Sun Devils offense which averaged 41 points per game this season, particularly with a Red Raiders defense that allowed 48.6 points per game and 3.09 points per drive during its five-game losing streak. Thus, the Red Raiders offense is going to have to score points if TTU has any hope of winning. Tight end Jace Amaro and receiver Eric Ward lead the Big 12’s top passing offense so quarterbacks Michael Brewer and/or Davis Webb will have the play-making targets to make it happen.

Stop the run. Even though standout running back Marion Grice might not play for the Sun Devils, Tech must find a way to stop the run better than it has during the losing streak. TTU allowed at least 277 rushing yards in every game during this five-game stretch. Red Raiders defensive tackle Kerry Hyder will need to have a big game to help control the line of scrimmage with the hope of slowing the run for the first time since mid-October.