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Holiday Bowl: Preview, Predictions, TV info

By Tony Moss | Senior Editor

What: National University Holiday Bowl

Who: Arizona State (10-3, 8-1 Pac-12) vs. Texas Tech (7-5, 4-5 Big 12)

When: Monday, Dec. 30, 10:15 p.m. ET (ESPN)

Where: Qualcomm Stadium (66,000), San Diego

Opening Line: Arizona State -13

What matters: Arizona State found itself serving for what would have been its first outright Pac-12 title since 1996, but was outclassed by Stanford in the conference championship game (38-14) and will now have its sights set on its first 11-win season since '96. ASU coach Todd Graham brings a personal four-game bowl win streak into San Diego. Texas Tech and first-year head coach Kliff Kingsbury limp into bowl season on a five-game losing streak, but the Red Raiders are 8-2 their last 10 bowl appearances dating back to 2002.

Who matters: Arizona State running back Marion Grice, who finished in the national top five in both all-purpose yards and scoring, missed the Pac-12 title game with a lower leg injury and is a question mark for the bowl game. Quarterback Taylor Kelly (3510 passing yards, 28 TD, 11 INT) could be counted on to pick up the slack. Texas Tech freshman QB Baker Mayfield has thrown a TD pass in only one of his last five starts, but tight end Jace Amaro (98 receptions, 7 TD) and wideout Eric Ward (80 receptions, 8 TD) have put up consistently strong numbers.

Matchup question: Can Baker Mayfield handle the Arizona State defense? Mayfield has seemed to regress after a strong start to the 2013 season, and will be facing a Sun Devils team that punished quarterbacks to the tune of 40 sacks and 21 interceptions this season.

Prediction: Arizona State did not match up well against Stanford, but that shouldn't obscure the achievements of a team that finished with a better Pac-12 record than all of the conference's usual suspects. Meanwhile, there's little right now to recommend a Texas Tech team that lacks a quality win on its 2013 slate. Arizona State 35, Texas Tech 17.

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