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Holiday Bowl

Pick

Texas Tech

vs.

Arizona State

12/30/13

Here's the second Big 12 vs. Pac-12 matchup of the day with the team from the west coming in as huge favorites. After its great season, Arizona State probably isn't too happy to be playing in the National University Holiday Bowl. The Sun Devils will be -14 point favorites against the Red Raiders at betonline.

A lot of bettors are hoping that ASU comes out and shows the committee they deserved a better bowl. Texas Tech finished 7-5, but a short look at its schedule shows its struggles. 71% of the bets taken at sportsbook.com have come in on ASU while 80% of the wagers are on the over.

The Red Raiders started 7-0 and got all the way up to a No. 10 ranking. The problem with those wins is that none of their opponents had a winning record and none are playing in a bowl game. From there, it was all downhill for Texas Tech, as its defense was dismantled by the top five teams in the Big 12, allowing an average close to 50 points per game.

If Arizona State comes to play, it could get ugly. The Sun Devils finished 10-3 with their only losses coming against Stanford (twice) and a 37-34 loss against Notre Dame. They put 62 points on USC, 53 against Washington, 58 against Arizona and beat UCLA on the road 38-33.

Unless the Red Raiders have a massive overhaul on the defensive end, this game will look familiar to their final five games of the year in which they were unable to cover.

It gets even more interesting for Texas Tech as QB Baker Mayfield transferred out in December. Instead of Davis Webb (2,315 yards, 16 TDs) getting the start, it's looking like sophomore Michael Brewer will be given the start in the bowl game. He attempted just 10 passes all season long, although he went 7-for-8 for one TD in a late appearance against Texas in the last game. There's no doubt Brewer will have to score for the Raiders to stay competitive here. He has receivers like Jace Amaro (1,240 yards, seven TDs) and Eric Ward (904 yards, eight TDs), so the pieces are there. Their rushing game leaves a lot to be desired with Kenny Williams leading the way with 480 yards and eight TDs. In the last few games, Tech has had to abandon the run game early.

ASU's defense won't step Tech completely, but they can disrupt things, having 21 interceptions and 40 sacks on the season.

The Sun Devils present a huge problem for the Red Raiders on the other end. Quarterback Taylor Kelly does it all, passing for 3,510 yards, 27 TDs and 11 INTs on the year to go with 473 rushing yards and eight rushing TDs. All-purpose running back Marion Grice (1,434 total yards, 20 total TDs) was still questionable to play 10 days before the game so that will be something to monitor. His backup D.J. Foster (999 total yards, nine total TDs) is also battling a knee issue, but he should be ready to go for the bowl. In addition to those threats, Kelly has the massive Jaelen Strong to work with in the passing game, who has 1,094 yards and seven TDs on the year.

If Brewer can get the offense rolling, expect a ton of points in this game, but by the end of the day, Arizona State is just too rounded of a team for Texas Tech.

The Sun Devils are 1-4 ATS in their last five bowl games and neutral site games. The Red Raiders are 0-5 ATS in their last five neutral site games and 1-6 ATS in their last seven bowl games.

Texas Tech is historically a solid play come bowl season and after a move from -11.5  to -14, the value side has to be the Red Raiders in this one.

I've got numbers that I like to use, that come down on both sides here which ultimately make this game a pass. As a bettor who has played probably 80% underdogs in his career, I naturally gravitate towards a team like Texas Tech getting a couple  TD's in a bowl game.

But I also know enough to stay away from a team who lost it's last 5 games down the stretch, with the last 4 of those losses coming by double digits, especially when facing a team like Arizona State that will have no trouble finding the end zone today.

So, for the sake of making a prediction on this one, we'll ride the model, which makes predictions using data from the entire season, the last 4 games and the last 7 games, and comes up with the following scores, all favoring Arizona State..... 56-29, 61-33, 63-30.

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