San Diego—Texas Tech came into this game having lost their last five games. Arizona State lost the Pac-12 championship to the seventh-ranked team in the nation. On this crisp Southern California night, both teams couldn’t have been heading in more opposite directions.
Texas Tech averages over 35 points per game. By halftime, the Red Raiders were short of their average by eight points. Freshman quarterback Davis Webb put on a first half quarterbacking clinic, at one point completing 19 of 24 passes for 301 yards and four touchdowns. The four passing touchdowns by Webb tied a Holiday Bowl record with three other players, including BYU’s Jim McMahon in 1980. The Red Raiders went on and defeated the Sun Devils 37-23 in the 2013 National University Holiday Bowl spectators. 52,930 fans were in attendance.
Arizona State started slow against Stanford in the Pac-12 Championship game a month ago and nothing changed in this game. The Sun Devils seemed out played and out coached in the first half, managing only eight first downs and 181 total offensive yards. At one point, ASU had 87 total yards compared to Texas Tech’s 324 yards after 20 minutes into the game.
Arizona State picked up five first downs on their last possession before the second half. That possession started on the ASU 24 and went 17 plays, almost doubling the number of plays they have run on offense up to that point.
Arizona State moved the ball with confidence during that drive, progressing to the Texas Tech 4-yard line before the Red Raiders called a timeout. ASU came out of the timeout looking like a 10-and-under Pee Wee football team trying to score their first touchdown of the year. D. J. Foster picked up a first down to the Texas Tech 1. Then quarterback Taylor Kelly was sacked for a 6-yard loss. Kelly kept the ball for no gain on second-and-goal. On third down, with six seconds on the clock and no timeouts left, ASU elected to rush a field goal attempt. Place kicker Zane Gonzalez missed the 24-yarder. Texas Tech took over with two seconds left and ran out the clock to go into halftime leading 27-13.
The Sun Devils received the ball first in the second half and started showing some consistency on offense. Arizona State moved the ball to just past midfield to the Texas Tech 44. Kelly, who has been completing his follow through on his keepers after handing the ball off, actually faked the hand off and kept the ball. He ran off tackle-right, broke two tackles and sprinted down the left sideline for a 44-yard touchdown run. The PAT was good and ASU was within a touchdown of tying the game up. For everything ASU has subjected itself to, the Sun Devils were only down a touchdown.
Texas Tech’s Reginald Davis caught the ensuing kickoff at the 10-yard line and ran down the ASU sideline for a 90-yard touchdown return. The return was the third longest in Holiday Bowl history. Davis’ touchdown deflated the Sun Devils sideline and its fans faster than the Big Events crew during the San Diego Big Bay Balloon Parade held earlier that day. Leading 34-20, Texas Tech scored on a 23-yard field goal after holding the Sun Devils to another 3-and-out possession.
Texas Tech spent most of the fourth quarter daring ASU to catch up. The Red Raiders punted on three straight possessions. The Sun Devils couldn’t take advantage of the opportunities. Missed receivers, plays for lost yardage and untimely penalties kept Arizona State out of the end zone.
Filed under items that can go wrong in a bowl game, Kelly missed a wide open Chris Coyne in front of the end zone with a 14-yard pass attempt. On the subsequent field goal attempt, Gonzales tied an NCAA freshman record for most field goals in a season, hitting number 25 on a 33-yarder with 13:39 left in the game.
Webb earned MVP honors, the first for a freshman in Texas Tech history. He finished the night with 24 completions on 41 attempts for 403 yards and four touchdowns. Teammate Jace Amaro caught eight passes for 112 yards. Jakeen Grant pulled in two touchdowns for the Red Raiders.
Kelly was 16 of 29 for 125 yards and one interception. He was also sacked three times. Kelly was also ASU’s leading rusher, gaining 135 yards on 25 carries and one touchdown. D. J. Foster gained 132 yards on 20 carries. He also scored one touchdown.
Texas Tech finishes the season 8-5. 16th-ranked Arizona State finishes its season 10-4.