The Liberty Bowl should be one of the most exciting early bowl games this season. College football odds have Mississippi State listed as 8.5-point favorites over Texas Tech.
There is a strong case for both the Texas Tech Red Raiders and the Mississippi State Bulldogs in this game. Read on for a comprehensive analysis of these two teams.
Liberty Bowl Game Information
Before we dive into Liberty Bowl predictions, here’s the information you need to know about this game:
- Date: Tuesday, December 28th
- Time: 6:45 P.M. EST
- Venue: Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium in Memphis, TN
- Participants: Texas Tech and Mississippi State
Texas Tech (+8.5,+260)
The Red Raiders finished the regular season 6-6 and in 7th place in the Big 12. Texas Tech started the season with three wins, including a 38-21 win over Houston.
In late October, the Red Raiders were 5-2. However, they lost four out of their last five to finish with a .500 record.
The Red Raiders had a brutal final month of the season, including losses to #4 Oklahoma, #9 Oklahoma State, and #8 Baylor. However, they did play Baylor tough in the final week of the regular season, losing a tight 27-24 contest.
Texas Tech is prone to giving up a lot of points. They ranked 104th in the nation for points allowed. In three losses, the defense gave up more than 50 points. The offense scored an average of 30 points per game this season (53rd).
In addition, the Red Raiders had three different starting quarterbacks this season. They are led offensively by wide receiver Erik Ezukanma, who had 843 yards from scrimmage and six total touchdowns. Running back SaRodorick Thompson added nine total touchdowns for the Red Raiders.
Mississippi State Bulldogs Analysis
The Bulldogs are led by head coach Mike Leach, who also coached Texas Tech from 2000-2009. He compiled an 84–43 record while at the school and led them to a bowl game in each season. On December 30, 2009, Leach was fired from the school after allegations surfaced that he had locked running back Adam James in an electrical closet for hours after the player suffered a concussion.
It is important to note that Mike Leach has denied these allegations, but it would appear that he still holds a slight grudge, as he recently told Andy Kostka of the Mississippi Clarion Ledger “I’ve got great memories there. They still owe me for 2009, the last time they won nine games, so maybe they’ll deliver the check. So we’ll see what happens there.”
I don’t foresee Texas Tech mailing coach Leach a check any time soon.
The Bulldogs finished 7-5 and in 3rd place in the SEC West. However, unlike Texas Tech, they started the season slow with a 3-3 record.
They then finished the season with a 4-2 run and picked up wins against #12 Kentucky and #17 Auburn.
Quarterback Will Rogers leads the Bulldogs offense. Rogers threw for nearly 4,500 yards this season, 35 touchdowns, and only eight interceptions. With this type of passing output, it’s no surprise that the Bulldogs’ receivers have big numbers. There are three skill-position players with more than 800 yards from scrimmage.
On the other hand, the Bulldogs do not run the ball often. This season, their top rusher, Dillon Johnson, produced just 432 yards on the ground, and as a team, they only gained 767 rushing yards. They’re 130th in the nation at running the ball, averaging only 63.9 yards per game.
Liberty Bowl Predictions
It is difficult for me to imagine Texas Tech’s defense containing Rogers and the Bulldogs’ offense. Few teams in the country allowed as many points as Texas Tech did this season. The Red Raiders’ defense gave up 70 points to the 5-7 Texas Longhorns.
Add a prolific passer like Will Rogers to the equation, and I see Mississippi State easily covering the 8.5-point spread. In my opinion, the over/under of 59.5 is low, with both teams averaging more than 30 points per game. I believe that Mississippi State could easily score 40 or more in this game.
Do you believe that the Bulldogs’ offense will be too much for Texas Tech to handle? Then, sign up for your account with BetMGM’s online sportsbook to place your bets on this matchup and all of this season’s bowl action.