This writer could easily make an argument that Saturday’s Birmingham Bowl between Texas Tech of the Big 12 and South Florida of the American Athletic Conference could be the highest-scoring bowl of them all between two terrific offenses and shaky defenses. The total is 66, one of the highest at MyBookie
2017 Birmingham Bowl Betting Preview: Texas Tech vs. USF
— Texas Tech Football (@TexasTechFB) December 19, 2017
When: Saturday, Noon ET
Where: Legion Field, Birmingham, Ala.
Radio: 950 AM (Texas Tech) / 89.7 FM (USF)
Opening NCAAF Lines: USF -2.5 (66)
- Rain: 15°C/59°F
- Humidity: 86%
- Precipitation: 92%
- Wind: 6 mph WNW
- Cloud Cover: 100%
- Type of Stadium: Open
This bowl began in 2006 and had been the only one to match a team from the SEC and AAC, but the SEC didn’t have enough eligible this year so the call went to Texas Tech. It’s the first-ever meeting between the Red Raiders and USF.
This is the first Birmingham Bowl for Texas Tech, although it played in the city in the 1989 All-American Bowl against Duke and won 49-21.
It’s the third Birmingham Bowl appearance for USF, which is 2-0. Last year, the Bulls beat South Carolina in the bowl, 46-39 in overtime – the highest-scoring Birmingham Bowl ever. USF QB Quinton Flowers ran for three touchdowns and threw for two more and was named MVP. Flowers threw a 25-yard touchdown pass on the first play of overtime, finding Elkanah Dillon in the end zone. South Carolina’s overtime drive ended after Jake Bentley was sacked by Mike Love on fourth down.
Why Bet on Texas Tech?
The Red Raiders (6-6) closed the regular season with an upset win at Texas. With only five wins going into the game, the Red Raiders appeared to be on their way to missing out on a bowl again, and the Longhorns had the lead and the ball late in the fourth quarter. But Texas Tech’s Justus Parker intercepted Sam Ehlinger and returned the pick 55 yards, setting up Nic Shimonek’s game-winning touchdown pass to Cameron Batson. After starting at quarterback the entire season, Shimonek came off the bench in place of McLane Carter to lift the Red Raiders to the come-from-behind win.
After the game, Texas Tech athletic director Kirby Hocutt said football coach Kliff Kingsbury would return in 2018. Kingsbury entered his fifth season on the hot seat after his team missed out on a bowl in two of the three previous years.
Shimonek will start this game at QB in the bowl. Shimonek ranks tied for 10th in the FBS in passing touchdowns (30), 11th in passing efficiency (156.0 rating) and 14th in passing yards (3,547), but struggled in some games to sustain a high level of play after starting strong.
What Does the Coach Say?
Kingsbury said he’s optimistic leading rusher Justin Stockton will be able to play in the Birmingham Bowl, but fullback Mason Reed likely will miss the game. Both have dealt with concussions this season. Stockton carried 21 times for 124 yards in the next-to-last game against TCU, but he missed two games the second half of the season and came out of the regular-season finale at Texas.
The Red Raiders, who have won four of their last five bowl games, are 14-22-1 all-time in bowl appearances, which includes a 1-1 record under Kingsbury. If the Red Raiders manage to win the turnover margin against USF, Texas Tech will tie its single-season school record of plus-12 that was most recently set in 1997. Tech enters bowl season at plus-11 in the turnover margin after forcing at least four takeaways in two of the last three games.
TTU has not previously faced an opponent from the state of Florida since Texas Tech routed Florida International, 56-3, to start the 2005 season.
Why Bet on USF?
The 2017 game will pit a potent Bulls’ offense coming of a 653-yard performance at UCF and ranked No. 8 nationally in total offense (508.6 ypg) and No. 16 in scoring (38.3 ppg) against a prolific Red Raiders’ offense ranked No. 17 nationally in total offense (468.4 ypg) and No. 26 in scoring (34.3 ppg).
No. 23 South Florida (9-2) is off a shootout loss to unbeaten Central Florida in the AAC title game. USF has won nine or more games for the second straight season and will make its third straight bowl appearance and ninth in program history. The Bulls spent the entire 2017 season ranked in the Top 25 and climbed as high as No. 13 in the polls. USF will be looking to improve its all-time bowl record to 6-3.
What Type of Team Will the Red Raiders Face?
Texas Tech will be facing a USF program that has been among the national leaders this year in least turnovers surrendered. The Bulls have lost just 12 turnovers this season, which is tied for 14th nationally for the fewest in the country. The 2015 and 2002 Bulls own the school season record with 15 turnovers.
Flowers came into his senior season with incredible buzz. His numbers in 2016 were stellar: he threw for 2,812 yards and 24 touchdowns while also rushing for 1,530 yards and 18 touchdowns. While his numbers went down some this season, he still threw for 2,600 yards and 21 touchdowns and ran for 10 more in 2017. Flowers will depart as likely the best quarterback in school history.
With a USF record 11,385 career yards, Flowers needs only 47 more yards to break the American Athletic Conference record for total offense. Flowers (3,566 yards) needs 44 more yards to break former teammate Marlon Mack’s USF career rushing record of 3,609 yards. With 2,600 passing yards, Flowers needs 312 more yards to become USF’s all-time season leader. With 746 yards, senior Marquez Valdes-Scantling needs 77 more yards to break former teammate Rodney Adams’ USF season receiving record of 822 yards (2015-16).
Latest Birmingham Bowl Betting Trends
- Texas Tech is 2-5 ATS in its last 7 games
- Texas Tech is 2-5 SU in its last 7 games
- The total went UNDER in 5 of Texas Tech’s last 6 games
- USF is 1-4 ATS in its last 5 games
- USF is 14-2 SU in its last 16 games
- The total went UNDER in 4 of USF’s last 6 games
Expert Prediction & Birmingham Bowl Betting Pick
Love the over here! Take South Florida on the side.