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TicketCity Bowl Betting – First TicketCity Bowl Could Get Ugly In Dallas

Posted by Blake Frazier on 12/29/2010 5:35:35 PM
ticketcity bowl betting

The Northwestern Wildcats matched up pretty well with the Texas Tech Red Raiders… until they lost their starting quarterback, who doubled as their best offensive player.

NCAA football betting: Northwestern Wildcats vs. Texas Tech Red Raiders

Online Betting Odds: Texas Tech -9.5

Why To Bet On Northwestern

Texas Tech fans hoped that new head coach Tommy Tuberville would bring some of his defensive wizardry with him to Lubbock to match the offensive brilliance they’d come to expect. However, when the locals were worried about Texas Tech’s passing offense, they really should have been worried about the team’s defense. In the transition year from the offense-first Mike Leach to the defense-minded Tuberville (who was a defensive coordinator at the Miami of Florida Hurricanes before he became a head coach at Ole Miss and then the Auburn Tigers), it was Texas Tech’s defense, not its offense, that suffered. Tech surrendered 52 points to a below-average Iowa State Cyclones’ offense earlier this year.

The Red Raiders gave up just over 30 points per game this season, a shamefully bad average that landed Tech in the bottom third of the nation’s 120 Football Bowl Subdivision teams. Even with a backup quarterback – a youngster named Evan Watkins – Northwestern has a chance to light up Texas Tech’s defense and keep pace in a shootout. Watkins doesn’t see the field as fluidly as Northwestern starter Dan Persa does, but if Watkins gets time in the pocket, he does have a rifle arm, an NFL-worthy cannon that can zip the ball to receivers. Watkins wowed the Wrigley Field crowd in the infamous “one end zone” game against Illinois on Nov. 20, but those spectacular moments were drowned out by many more mistakes. Watkins needs to become a consistent player; the hope for Northwestern is that Texas Tech’s deficient defense will allow him to finally flourish for 60 minutes, not just a handful of plays here and there.

Why To Bet On Texas Tech

Northwestern is in a very difficult position, given that it must try to re-fit its offense to the strengths of Evan Watkins. This is the case because Persa was such a perfect trigger man and traffic cop. He steered players around the field, exhibited complete mastery of Northwestern’s offensive system, and made boatloads of plays with both his arm and his legs. Persa exhibited enough pocket presence to stand in and throw downfield when needed, but if plays broke down, he was able to zoom out of trouble and rack up a 15-yard scramble to keep the chains moving. He did whatever the situation demanded for his offense, and he showed the elasticity that makes a dual-threat quarterback so regularly hard to defend.

Texas Tech’s defense was quite vulnerable to Persa’s all-around excellence, but now that bad matchup won’t emerge for the Red Raiders. With the younger and less seasoned Watkins in charge of the offense, Northwestern must run the ball more often than it would care to. The Wildcats must try to run more effectively than they have all season. That won’t be easy, considering the fact that Persa was also Northwestern’s second leading rusher. Texas Tech enjoys a pronounced advantage with Dan Persa out of this game.

How The Game Will Play Out

It’s just not realistic to expect a sustained and complete performance from Evan Watkins. He might be really good in the future, but it doesn’t seem as though he’s ready to make the reads and decisions NU coach Pat Fitzgerald needs him to make. Texas Tech is lucky that Dan Persa isn’t playing. Take the Red Raiders in this contest.

TicketCity Bowl Betting Pick: Texas Tech

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