Blaze of Glory?

Texas Tech has the opportunity to finish the 2013 season on a high note with a Holiday Bowl win over No. 16 Arizona State in San Diego.

Capping off a five-game losing streak, Texas Tech could have been saddled with a berth in the Also Ran Bowl playing a team from the tundra they beat a year ago. And indeed, for quite some time it looked as if the Red Raiders would finish a deflating 2013 season by reprising their 2012 bout with Minnesota in the Texas Bowl.

But instead, the postseason gods had mercy on the Tech football team and its fans. They deemed the Red Raiders fit for the Holiday Bowl and a battle with the No. 14 Arizona State Sun Devils. Just when it looked like Tech would close out a forgettable season with a whimper in a bowl of boredom, the Red Raiders instead are given the chance to go out in a blaze of glory and to rekindle a dab of interest in the program.

The Holiday Bowl berth is the best boon the Red Raiders could realistically have hoped for. The annual fireworks show in San Diego is always one of the most anticipated bowls of the season, regardless of its participants, because the game habitually provides some of the most outstanding action of all the bowls.

In the early days of a bowl that began in 1978, perennial WAC champ BYU was usually the star attraction, and the pass-happy Cougars could be counted upon to put on a show. Their 46-45 ripper over SMU in the 1980 Holiday Bowl is still remembered as one of the greatest college football games ever played.

And big point totals such as that in 1980 have been the rule rather than the exception. In the 35 Holiday Bowls that have been played, the winning team has scored 40 or more points 12 times. Thirteen times the combined point total for the winning and losing teams has been more than 70. No bowl game in captivity offers up as many shootouts as the Holiday Bowl.

What's more, Texas Tech was a worthy participant in one of those shootouts. In 2004 the 7-4 and grievously disrespected Red Raiders ventured to San Diego to take on the 11-1 and No. 4 ranked California Golden Bears.

Cal made no bones about believing that gracing the same football field as Texas Tech was beneath them, and the oddsmakers agreed as they installed the Golden Bears prohibitive favorites. But the Red Raiders, with Sonny Cumbie, Trey Haverty and Mike Smith, all members of the current coaching staff, playing key roles, pounced upon Cal early and never let up en route to a 45-31 rouser over the PAC 10 runner up. The Red Raiders went from obscure mediocrity to postseason darling in just one night.

A win over the No. 16 Arizona State Sun Devils wouldn't be quite as compelling a story as that 2004 victory over Cal, but it would doubtless raise a few eyebrows over the college football landscape, take the sting out of a five-game losing streak, and provide the coaching staff with some much needed ammo as they hit the recruiting trail over the coming months. The Holiday Bowls selection committee has provided Texas Tech with a gift. It is now the team's duty to repay that benison by putting on the best show of any team in the postseason.

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