AdvoCare V100 Texas Bowl: LSU Tigers vs. Texas Tech Red Raiders
Date: Dec. 29, 9 p.m. ET on ESPN
Location: Houston | NRG Stadium
Best moment: Take your pick between a blowout victory over Auburn, where running back Leonard Fournette left a trail of broken Auburn defenders in his wake, or a 35-28 win against Florida – both teams were undefeated and ranked in the top 10 at the time – as No. 21 LSU’s best win. The victory over the Gators, with kicker Trent Domingue scoring the game-winning touchdown on a fake field goal, probably deserves the nod because Florida won the SEC East.
Lowest moment: LSU was ranked second in the initial College Football Playoff rankings, but it suffered its first (and ugliest) defeat that weekend when it visited Alabama. The Crimson Tide dominated LSU up front, and Derrick Henry (210 rushing yards, three touchdowns in the game) overtook Fournette (19 carries for 31 yards) in the Heisman Trophy chase after the Tide’s 30-16 win. LSU went into a tailspin after the Alabama game, dropping its next two games against Arkansas and Ole Miss.
Key player: Sophomore superstar Fournette was at one point the overwhelming favorite to win the Heisman thanks to a series of 200-yard games in September. Even if he doesn’t win, Fournette has still had one of the best seasons in LSU history. Entering the championship weekend, he led the nation in rushing yards per game (158.3) and he already owns LSU’s single-season rushing record (1,741) with a bowl game still to play.
Motivation level: Moderate. The Tigers snapped their three-game losing streak with a 19-7 victory over Texas A&M in the regular-season finale. It was an emotional night in Tiger Stadium as many believed it would be Les Miles’ final game as LSU’s coach. However, athletic director Joe Alleva announced afterward that Miles could stay on as coach, and the Tigers likely want to prove it was a good decision by closing the season with another victory. –- David Ching
Best moment: Few people expected the Red Raiders to walk into Donald W. Reynolds Razorback Stadium and walk away with a 35-24 victory on Sept. 19. Kliff Kingsbury definitely enjoyed it, taking time to take a postgame shot at Bret Bielema after his team got redemption following an embarrassing home loss to the Razorbacks in 2014.
Lowest moment: The Red Raiders gave up 405 rushing yards and seven rushing touchdowns in a 63-27 loss to Oklahoma. Along with a loss to Baylor, the defeat at the hands of the Sooners was one of two games that got out of hand for Kingsbury’s squad in 2015.
Key player: Sophomore quarterback Patrick Mahomes is special. He passed for 4,283 yards and 32 touchdowns with 14 interceptions during his first season as the unquestioned starter. He gives Tech a chance in every game.
Motivational level: An eighth victory would give Tech a pair of 8-5 seasons during three years under Kingsbury. It would also remind people that Tech, with Mahomes at the helm, could be a dark-horse Big 12 title candidate in 2016. -- Brandon Chatmon