No. 20 LSU (8–3) vs. Texas Tech (7–5)
Dec. 29, 9 p.m. ET (ESPN)
Reason to watch
LSU’s season has been, well, dramatic. Despite reaching as high as No. 2 in the College Football Playoff rankings, head coach Les Miles was seemingly coaching for his job in the Tigers’ 19–7 win over Texas A&M on Nov. 28. LSU failed to stay in contention for a national title, but it could win nine games by topping Texas Tech in the Texas Bowl. Still, some say Miles’s long-term future is hardly secure in Baton Rouge. Could this be the coach’s final bowl game at LSU?
Keep an eye on: Texas Tech’s defense
The Red Raiders’ troubled defense ranks 118th out of 128 FBS teams in total defense (6.69 yards allowed per play) and 126th in rushing defense (5.92 yards allowed per carry). Texas Tech defensive coordinator David Gibbs is likely shaking in his boots ahead of this matchup: LSU running back Leonard Fournette averaged more rushing yards per game (158.27) than any player in the country in 2015. That’s a recipe for disaster for the Red Raiders.
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LSU hasn’t fared well in recent trips to the postseason. The program has lost four of its last six bowl games under Miles. That run includes a 21–0 loss to Alabama in the 2011 BCS title game after beating the Crimson Tide during the regular season.
Texas Tech doesn’t try to hide its offensive philosophy. It threw the ball 564 times this season, more than any other Big 12 team, and quarterback Patrick Mahomes threw for 32 touchdowns, more than all other conference passers aside from Oklahoma’s Baker Mayfield. That’s why the Red Raiders’ best shot is to take advantage of LSU’s pass defense, which ranked 10th in the SEC in opponent’s passing efficiency. But coach Kliff Kingsbury’s defense simply won’t have an answer for Fournette and LSU’s offensive line. Expect Miles to end an up-and-down season on a high note.