#20 LSU v. Texas Tech
NRG Stadium — Houston, TX
December 29, 2015 — 9:00 pm Eastern (ESPN)
Why You Should Watch
If you already tuned in for the first matchup of top-25 teams this season, you might as well stay tuned into ESPN to watch this nightcap game from Houston. The SEC-Big 12 showdown at NRG Stadium features a pair of embattled head coaches that have been fighting for their jobs and could desperately use the momentum that a win would give them heading into the offseason. It also features a couple of teams that suffered through late losing streaks to end the chance at something bigger in 2015. Both teams will want to end their seasons on a high note on the stage of an NFL venue, with an interesting contrast in both tactical styles and underlying philosophies as to what winning football should look like making this an even more fascinating showdown.
What Each Team Brings to the Table
Well, we know that Les Miles will be back for his 12th season in Baton Rouge, but the Mad Hatter could still really use a win in Houston after a 7-0 start went quickly south after losing to Alabama in November… a loss to Texas Tech would make it four defeats in LSU’s past five bowl trips, putting him right back on the hot seat to start 2016. LSU has a monster ground game thanks to Leonard Fournette, but Brandon Harris has been incapable of providing a stable aerial attack to balance the offense. The normally dominant Tigers defense also seemed to suffer the loss of defensive coordinator John Chavis to Texas A&M, ranking just 44th nationally in points allowed and especially susceptible to getting carved up by strong passing attacks. Once opposing offenses get into the red zone, they’re almost guaranteed to score, while the same can hardly be said about the LSU offense. The Tigers also suffer through a lot of pre-snap penalties that don’t cost a ton of yardage but concede plenty of momentum.
Texas Tech Red Raiders
Where LSU’s defense is weakest is where Texas Tech is strongest, with Kliff Kingsbury continuing the Pirate tradition in Lubbock. Only Baylor racked up more points and yards per game than the Red Raiders, who were able to gash opponents both through the air and on the ground. Patrick Mahomes, the sophomore starter at quarterback, threw for over 4200 yards and 32 touchdowns. Jakeem Grant was on the receiving end of 1143 of those passing yards and took seven of those scores into the endzone. Mahomes also provided a rushing threat, and starting tailback DeAndre Washington finishing the regular season with 1455 yards and 14 touchdowns on the ground. Fournette will be able to gash the Tech defense, which was the third-worst team in the country in terms of rushing yards allowed, but there is no guarantee that Harris can actually do anything against a mediocre pass defense.
What is Likely to Happen
The oddsmakers like LSU to win this game by a touchdown, which makes sense when you look at the Texas Tech defense. But that also gives LSU’s defense, which is down from recent seasons, a lot of credit for being able to contain the best offense it will see all year. This could end up being a track meet, with Fournette showing just how badly he was snubbed when he wasn’t invited to Manhattan for the Heisman ceremony with north of 200 yards and at least three scores. On the opposite side, Mahomes is going to have a field day against an LSU secondary that is hardly of its best vintage, throwing for at least 300 yards and a trio of passing scores of his own. LSU might prevail in the end, though it is more likely that this picture is the most celebrating Tigers fans will see from their favorite team this bowl season.
Texas Tech 41, LSU 37
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