Get ready for some offense in the Birmingham Bowl. Texas Tech and USF both feature high-powered offenses and will try to win a shootout in this game. Here is the 2017 Birmingham Bowl preview:
Texas Tech Red Raiders (6-6)
Texas Tech barely got to a bowl game after losing four in a row in the middle of the season. They beat Texas in the last week of the season to clinch their spot. Their wins over Texas, Houston and Arizona State are all solid wins.
They have a great offense that averages 34.3 points per game. The offense has been a little more balanced this season as they average 141.6 yards on the ground. Justin Stockton and Tre King are both productive for Texas Tech. Stockton has 694 yards and four touchdowns, while King has 588 yards and four touchdowns.
The calling card of the offense is the passing game. Nic Shimonek started most of the season and was productive, but was benched after only leading the offense to three points against TCU. McLane Carter started the last game against Texas, but Shimonek still played. Shimonek is the best bet to win the game, but the Red Raiders might start Carter to prep him for the future. Shimonek has 3,547 passing yards, 30 touchdowns and eight interceptions. Carter has 359 passing yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions.
Keke Coutee is the leading receiver for the Red Raiders and is a great talent. He has 1,242 receiving yards and nine touchdowns. Dylan Cantrell, Cameron Baston and T.J. Vasher all also provide big sparks for the offense.
With the high-scoring offense, the defense leaves a lot to be desired and allow 31.8 points per game. They rank 53th against the run and an awful 123rd against the pass. Defensive back Jah’Shawn Johnson makes plays for the Red Raiders and leads the team with 60 solo tackles.
USF Bulls (9-2)
The Bulls had an undefeated season on their mind, but ultimately fell two games short. They still had a very good season and beat the teams they should’ve beaten. They only beat one bowl eligible team in Temple. The lack of competition is a small cause for concern, but they almost beat UCF in the AAC Championship Game.
They have a high-scoring offense too that averages 37.8 points per game. The Bulls have a lot of players who help the running game, but their leading rusher is their quarterback Quinton Flowers. Flowers has rushed for 972 yards. Running backs Darrius Tice and D’Ernest Johnson combined for more than 1,600 rushing yards. Although there isn’t a workhorse, it is an effective rushing offense.
Flowers is a decent thrower as well. This season he has thrown for 2,600 yards, 21 touchdowns and six interceptions. His accuracy isn’t great, as he completes 53.4% of his passes, but he is still a star at the college level. His top receiver is Marquez Valdez-Scantling who has 50 receptions for 746 yards and five touchdowns.
Even though they have a good offense, the defense is pretty good. They allow 22.5 points per game, which in most cases is enough to win the game. They rank ninth against the run and 58th against the pass. Linebacker Auggie Sanchez missed some time with injury, but still had 77 total tackles, two interceptions and two touchdowns. He is a playmaker that will make it on Sundays in the NFL.
With high-powered offenses, the defense that steps up will win this game. USF has raised its level of defensive play this season and it will show. The Bulls’ defense, led by Sanchez, will get a stop just when they need to in order to win the game.
USF Bulls 44 Texas Tech Red Raiders 40
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