Texas Tech kicked off the season with a blistering 7-0 start in head coach Kliff Kingsbury's inaugural campaign in Lubbock. But the Red Raiders then lost five straight games to close the year, effectively nullifying that early unbeaten record. So the question heading into Monday's Holiday Bowl was, which Texas Tech team would show up in San Diego?
It didn't take long to figure out the answer. Freshman quarterback Davis Webb threw four touchdown passes -- tying a Holiday Bowl record -- and the Red Raiders picked apart No. 14 Arizona State with an efficient passing game to notch a 37-23 win in Monday's Holiday Bowl. Texas Tech managed 403 of its 483 yards of offense through the air against the Sun Devils.
Webb was magnificent in the first half as the Red Raiders built an early lead. The freshman completed two touchdown passes of one yard and 18 yards in the opening period to push Tech ahead 14-0. Webb tossed two more scores in the second quarter as the Red Raiders closed the first half with a 27-13 lead. Tech dominated the game early on offense, managing 351 yards (8.56 yards per play) by halftime compared to Arizona State's 181 yards (5.17 yards per play). Webb had completed 19 of his 24 passes for 301 yards at the half after leading Tech to touchdowns on its first four drives of the game.
Despite the smothering performance in the first half by the Red Raiders' offense, the Sun Devils made a game of things early in the third period. Arizona State QB Taylor Kelly scampered 44 yards for a score on the Devils' first drive of the second half to cut the deficit to 27-20. But Texas Tech's Reginald Davis returned a kick 90 yards on the ensuing kickoff to make it a two-possession game once again, and the Sun Devils never seriously threatened from there.
Texas Tech's undefeated start this year brought so much promise to a fan base looking for a new direction under Kingsbury, but the losing streak that ended the season left a sour taste in the mouths of those same fans. A bowl win over a 10-win Arizona State program that contended for the Pac-12 title is a solid consolation prize for a season that failed to deliver on early Big 12 title hopes. Looking ahead, Kingsbury -- who already helped mentor one ultra-talented quarterback in Johnny Manziel -- could have another budding star on his hands in Webb. The first-year player finished with more than 2,500 yards passing and 20 touchdowns after splitting duties with fellow freshman Baker Mayfield this year. But Mayfield shocked many when he announced his intentions to transfer from Texas Tech earlier this month. That means Webb is likely Kingsbury's guy going forward, and though the Red Raiders will lose NFL-bound tight end Jace Amaro next year, having an experienced body at quarterback is the kind of building block Kingsbury needs to feed off this season in Lubbock.