Ciao a tutti! Come va?
After a one-week pausa, Red Raider Ravioli comes back in full force, with a definite goal. This week, I’d like to discuss the bowl berth the Red Raiders earned after defeating Texas two weeks ago.
As you all certainly know, Texas Tech will face South Florida on December 23rd in Birmingham, Alabama, in the 12th edition of the Birmingham Bowl. The Bulls already played and won this bowl twice, in 2006 and 2016, while it’s the first appearance for the Red Raiders and, in general, for a Big 12 team.
USF is coached by an old acquaintance of ours, the Charlie Strong guy who coached Texas from 2014 until 2016. He has a dangerous team that almost defeated UCF in a face-off to enter the AAC Championship game.
That said, I don’t want to spend the entire article discussing them because we will offer extended coverage before the game, but I’d like to spend some time on the role this game plays from a more general point of view.
The Birmingham Bowl might be a minor bowl, this year 78 out of 130 FBS teams have the possibility of appearing in the postseason, and Tech qualified with a 6-6 record, but there are many advantages to being on the carousel.
1) It’s a rich bowl. If we only consider the 33 non-BCS Bowls, only 15 offer a bigger payout. The Birmingham Bowl pays a total of $2,050,000. To put that into perspective, both West Virginia and Kansas will play in poorer games.
2) The team is allowed extra practices before the game. NCAA rules allow bowl teams to practice or hold other athletic activities up to four hours per day or 20 hours per week between the end of the regular season and a bowl game.
There are four weeks between the Texas game and the USF game, so it’s easy to see that the Red Raiders had 80 hours of additional training.
For comparison, teams that don’t earn a bowl bid only have a maximum eight hours per week, exclusively for weight training, conditioning and review of game film, until January 1.
3) It will be an interesting challenge for a defense that showed much improvement during the season. The Bulls rank No. 9 in the nation in rushing yards per game and No. 16 in points scored, so we’re talking about an offense that has to be respected.
In addition, senior quarterback Quinton Flowers is one of the best dual-threat quarterbacks in the nation. Flowers ran for 991 yards in 2015, 1,530 in 2016 and is flirting with the thousand-yard mark this year with 972 to date.
The Red Raiders handled dual-threat quarterbacks well this season. Arizona State’s Manny Wilkins had only 25 rushing yards, Kansas State’s Skylar Thompson had eight, and Texas’ Sam Ehlinger had 35. The only dual-threat quarterback to really hit hard Texas Tech was TCU’s Shawn Robinson, who gained 84 yards on ten carries.
4) It’s one more football game. The 9-month break is already enormously long, so let’s enjoy this game with the right spirit.