The TicketCity Bowl debuts on New Year's Day from the Cotton Bowl in Dallas, filling the void that was left for the famed stadium when the Cotton Bowl game moved to Arlington beginning with the 2009 season. The game's original name was the Dallas Football Classic, but the bowl announced on November 8th that TicketCity, a leader in the secondary ticket industry for more than 20 years, had become the title sponsor
The matchup features a pair of teams that finished with identical 7-5 records overall and conference marks of 3-5.
Both teams underperformed, based on the projections of the CollegeFootballPoll.com's Congrove Computer Rankings (a.k.a. CCR Top 120). Texas Tech was expected to go 10-2 overall, 6-2 in the Big 12. Northwestern was forecasted to go 8-4 overall, 5-3 in the Big Ten.
Northwestern probably would have met, or exceeded, expectations had it not lost QB Danny Persa to injury on the final game-winning play vs. Iowa. Persa was a deadly accurate passer with a completion percentage of 73.5. He was also the team's No. 2 rusher.
In his two games as a starter, freshman backup Evan Watkins completed 23-of-42 passes for 258 yards, 1 TD and 4 INT's. He added just 14 rushes for 49 yards and 1 TD. Northwestern lost those games by wide margins to rival Illinois 48-27 at Wrigley Field, and to Wisconsin by an embarrassing score of 70-23.
Northwestern owns the nation's longest losing streak in bowl games at 7 as it searches for its first bowl victory since the 1948 season when it won the Rose in its first-ever bowl appearance. The Wildcats are 1-7 overall in postseason games.
Texas Tech has a new head coach in Tommy Tuberville, but still relies heavily on the passing game. The Red Raiders were ranked 8th in passing yards per game at the end of the regular season as the aerial attack accounted for 69.5% of their offense.
Texas Tech is 11-21-1 all-time in bowl games, but has won 6 of its last 8. Tuberville was 6-3 in bowl games as the head coach at Ole Miss and Auburn.
The Red Raiders defeated three teams that went on to earn bowl bids in 2010 - SMU, Baylor and most impressively, Missouri. They also lost to Texas and Iowa State teams that failed to make the postseason.
Iowa is the only bowl participant that Northwestern defeated, but Purdue was the only loss to a non-bowl qualified team.
This will be the first-ever meeting between these teams and Texas Tech is a heavy computer favorite by 8.66 points. During the regular season, the computer was 9-3 in forecasting the winner of Texas Tech games and 8-4 with Northwestern. It was 6-5 against the spread with the Red Raiders, but only 3-8 with the Wildcats. (Such information is tracked for the sole purpose of recording the computer's accuracy in picking games and ranking teams. It is not intended for gambling purposes).
The 92,000-seat landmark stadium gets to host the first game of 2011 with a kickoff slated for 12 noon ET. TV coverage will be provided by ESPN-U.