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Rapid Reaction: Texas Tech 45, NU 38

1/2/2011

Here’s a quick look at Texas Tech’s 45-38 win over Northwestern in the TicketCity Bowl on Saturday.

How the game was won: Northwestern dominated Texas Tech in the second half, but the Red Raiders were slightly more dominant in the first half, and that’s what decided the game. Red Raiders quarterback Taylor Potts was 26-of-33 for 243 yards and two touchdowns in the first two quarters to give Texas Tech a 24-6 halftime lead. Defensively, Texas Tech never allowed Northwestern’s two quarterbacks to get into an early rhythm. Northwestern scored once on its seven first-half possessions.

Turning point:Whenever Northwestern’s offense did something positive, Texas Tech responded immediately to void it. Following the Wildcats’ first touchdown to pull within 10-6 in the first half, Texas Tech drove the field in eight plays and scored its own touchdown. When Northwestern opened the second half by forcing and recovering a fumble on the kickoff and capitalizing with a field goal, the Red Raiders needed just one play – an 86-yard run by Eric Stephens – to score again. The Red Raiders did it again with a 69-yard drive and score to go ahead 45-31 after the Wildcats got within seven points in the fourth quarter.

Player of the game: Texas Tech senior quarterback Taylor Potts closed out his career with one of his more memorable performances. He shook off a few early incompletions and fired bullets all over the field the rest of the day. He was 43-of-56 passing for 362 yards, four touchdowns and one interception. To add to his unforgettable day, he scored on a trick play, running from 13 yards out.

Northwestern player of the game: Freshman quarterback Kain Colter had seen some reps in Northwestern’s last two games, but he was mostly a complementary piece to redshirt freshman quarterback Evan Watkins. Colter took a step past Watkins against Texas Tech. Colter showed he can throw the ball – completing his first three passes of his college career for 36 yards – but he was especially effective on the ground, rushing for a team-high 105 yards and two touchdowns. He also caught a pass for 32 years and threw for a 2-point conversion. While he may have to wait until Dan Persa graduates following next season, Colter could be the team’s quarterback of the future.

Stat of the game: Northwestern’s offense got going in the second half, but Texas Tech’s offense never stopped going. The Red Raiders compiled 369 passing yards and 551 total yards and scored six touchdowns.

ESPN SportsCenter highlight of the game: Northwestern defensive back Jordan Mabin broke up a pass by Texas Tech quarterback Taylor Potts with his left. The ball deflected off Mabin’s hand, flew into the air, Mabin found his balanced, caught the ball and ran it in for 39-yard touchdown to pull Northwestern within 45-38 in the fourth quarter.

What the game means for Northwestern: The Wildcats were close again, but being a part of another heartbreaker does nothing to end Northwestern’s bowl drought. The Wildcats are now 0-for-8 in bowls since beating California 20-14 in the 1949 Rose Bowl. It’s the longest bowl losing streak in the country. The Wildcats did make school history by reaching their third consecutive bowl this season, but the drought has to be eating away at Wildcats coach Pat Fitzgerald. It’s the one negative that continue to permeate the program.