As a Texas Tech fan, I'm always happy to look forward to watching one more football game at the end of the season.
This year Tech will be engaging the Spartans of Michigan State, who are 6-6 this season and in a bit of disarray, to say the least. However, that could all blow over and motivate the Spartans by the time the two meet.
Let's take a preliminary look at several interesting points to watch for in this game.
The recent embarrassment that Michigan State has faced in light of the attack that took place involving 10 of their players has changed this game entirely, both physically and emotionally.
The fallout of this will garner a lot of media attention for the game, but I personally think this will be mostly positive for State, as the country will probably feel sorry for the remaining players. The emotion of the players in reaction to the incident will either make them play above their ability or below it.
The loss of three starters could be a major issue as well. They will be especially short at the receiver position, where they lost Mark Dell and B.J. Cunningham. State did retain its top receiver, Blair White, who will certainly be a challenge for Texas Tech's top corner, Jamar Wall.
Michigan State's Defense
For a Big Ten school, Michigan State has an ineffective defense. However, given 15 practice days to prepare, they could be as ready for Texas Tech's offense as Minnesota was the last time that the Red Raiders played in the Alamo Bowl.
The Spartans have had issues in secondary communication all season, which won't be helped by the absence of cornerback Chris L. Rucker, who was suspended. As everyone who watches any college football knows, Mike Leach likes to throw the ball, so there is a potential mismatch there.
There will be lots of pressure on Greg Jones to hurry Taylor Potts and force him to make the bad decisions that he is known for.
Texas Tech's Defense
Ruffin McNeill, Brandon Sharpe, and the Texas Tech defense have quietly made a statement this season: There is a defense in Lubbock, and they are capable of doing the job. This young defense will be looking to make a statement in front of the nation with this bowl game.
Many people are looking for this to be a high-scoring affair, but with Tech's improved defense and State's loss of receivers, I think the Spartans will be held to relatively few points.
Consistency has been an issue this year, though less than in previous years. Their only real breakdown came against Texas A&M, to whom Texas' defense also allowed a lot of points. This could point to just how good the Aggie offense can be when they play to their full ability in rivalry games.
Whether Taylor Potts can make this a lopsided game remains to be seen. When Potts is playing well, he can make seemingly impossible "thread the needle"-type passes that make receivers all but indefensible.
When he isn't, he really isn't, and we can expect a three- to four-interception game that puts the defense in a really tough situation and ensures that they will be on the field even more than usual.
Some of this can be attributed to poor blocking from the offensive line, which has caused him injuries and certainly some hurried passes.
However, I would like to point out that he wasn't under a tremendous amount of pressure during the first half of the Baylor game, when he was virtually ineffective, and he wasn't under much pressure in the North Dakota game, when he threw a few interceptions in that game.
Texas Tech Offensive Line
This injury-plagued unit has been a question in basically every game this season. They have suffered several injuries throughout the season, including to Terry McDaniel, who is out for the season.
The line hasn't been able to mesh as a unit because of injuries, which has cost the team dearly in the Texas and Houston games. It will be interesting to see if they have the chemistry to stop Greg Jones and the Spartan defense.
Overall, this looks to be a promising matchup that will give both teams a chance to showcase themselves on a national stage. Hopefully, Michigan State's off the field issues won't be too much of a factor and Texas Tech will bring a consistent front so that it will be an exciting game.