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Holiday Bowl

Holiday Bowl

Holiday Bowl Preview
Jordan Adams

Arizona State (10-2) vs. Texas (9-3)

Conference match-up: Pac-10 vs. Big 12

Date: Dec. 27, 2007

Location: Qualcomm Stadium, San Diego, California

Spread: Texas -2

Reserved normally for the less fortunate in each the Pac-10 and Big 12, this year is an exception. Both conferences provided some good depth in 2007 and San Diego is rewarded with an interesting showdown between upstart ASU and a fiery, hopefully consistent Texas squad. Arizona State finished 11th in the final BCS standings and easily could have been an at-large team over Illinois with some optional preference. The 'Horns have been a perennial power, and while again they failed to capture their own league title, a win here could leave Texas feeling good about their chances next year with a lot of returning pieces. The Sun Devils, likewise, are a very young team and getting their 11th win coming from arguably the toughest conference in the nation would certainly build further momentum for another run next fall.

Arizona State can cover if: its defense can pressure the quarterback and force Colt McCoy into some silly mistakes. McCoy is a gunslinger, and with that territory comes arrogance and the misconception he can make any pass he wants to. ASU's defense was opportunistic all season and key forced turnovers put Rudy Carpenter and the Sun Devil offense in great shape to strike both through the air and on the ground. Carpenter (23 touchdowns, eight interceptions) has plenty of weapons around him to move the ball, and a tissue soft Texas defense should allow them to do just that. Here's the thing: take what's there, don't make this shaky defense look good when it should not. Using Keegan Herring and Demitri Nance on the ground with their speed can open up big plays down field for Michael Jones and Chris McGaha down the field. Offensive balance is the key for Carpenter and company.

Texas can cover if: they make Mr. Charles a constant threat with the ball. We saw countless times Texas' sensational junior tailback carry the Longhorns in the fourth quarter this season, particularly when the defense was abysmal. It's safe to say the second year campaign of quarterback Colt McCoy was a definite step back, throwing 18 interceptions (only seven during all of 2006) and seven less touchdown passes this year. Jamaal Charles rushed for over 1,400 yards and 16 scores for Texas this season and six of his touchdowns happened in comeback wins against conference foes Nebraska and Oklahoma State. It's really this simple for Mack Brown's offense: less dink and dunk with McCoy's inconsistent arm, and more finding ways to get Charles the ball. Runs, screens, and special teams: if he touches the ball 25 times in this one, Texas will win.

General notes: It's really tough to grasp how each team will come into this game. The Sun Devils really couldn't have asked for a better first season under new head coach Dennis Erickson, Well, actually, ASU had control of its Rose Bowl birth and got hammered at home to USC in late November. For Texas, the 'Horns looked pretty dismal the second half of the season, and they got what they deserved. The Longhorns return to a familiar site where they played in this game three of four years in 2000, 2001 and 2003. Arizona State is 0-2 all time in Holiday Bowl games.

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Re: Holiday Bowl

No Holiday for Horns against ASU attack

College football bowl season usually reserves the games with public appeal for New Year’s Eve and afterward. This season’s Holiday Bowl between the Arizona State Sun Devils and Texas Longhorns is a sparkling exception.

Arizona State and Texas are big programs with massive fan bases. They also maintained their places in the national polls nearly all season, finishing Nos. 11 and 17, respectively.

Their Dec. 27 meeting in San Diego is the elite pre-New Year’s bowl game this year. ESPN knows what fell in its lap, sending its A-list team of Brent Musberger, Kirk Herbstreit and Lisa Salter to call the game.

I’m left to wonder, then, if the Holiday Bowl’s public appeal will be revealed in the betting line.

Arizona State posted a better record than Texas and won a share of the Pac-10 crown, but the Longhorns have owned the early betting momentum. Texas opened as a 1 to 1 ½-point favorite in early December, with the spread widening to 2 ½ points by the middle of the month.

Three explanations for the betting shift away from the Sun Devils immediately popped into my head:

1. ASU went 0-4 against the spread (ATS) in November and December.

2. Two of those dropped paydays were nationally-televised losses against its biggest Pac-10 challengers.

3. The Sun Devils are disappointed they were passed over for the Fiesta Bowl and are due for a letdown.

All three anti-ASU arguments have some merit. But when I compare this year’s Holiday Bowl combatants, two potential mismatches jump out at me. Texas’ defense comes up short in both of them.

The Sun Devils can’t protect quarterback Rudy Carpenter. ASU allowed 50 quarterback sacks this season, third-most in the entire country, including 15 in its two losses to Oregon and USC.

Texas, however, doesn’t boast the defensive schemes to take advantage of ASU’s biggest weakness. Head coach Mack Brown stresses stopping the run at the expense of a pass rush. The defensive unit’s top individual players are run-stuffing tackles Frank Okam and Derek Lokey.

Of course, sacks aren’t always the result of a poor offensive line. If a secondary can prevent receivers from finding open space, quarterbacks become vulnerable as the linemen protecting them tire. Unfortunately, the secondary is the Longhorns’ other defensive weakness.

Texas’ final four opponents threw for 393 yards per game. It’s a big number that isn’t inflated by teams attempting comebacks by abandoning the ground game. Of the four, only Texas Tech trailed the Horns early and it is a team that relies on the pass anyway. All four foes recognized the Horns’ vulnerability to passing and threw the ball with success.

They hit 70 percent of their pass attempts, connecting on 13 touchdowns through the air while Texas forced only three interceptions. The Longhorns even made Texas A&M look like a deadly passing team in the season finale at College Station.

Carpenter played with an injured hand late in the season, but is feeling more comfortable as the Holiday Bowl approaches. Give him time and he’ll connect all night in San Diego’s pass-friendly weather.

ASU also has a talented group of targets. Sophomore Chris McGaha has become Carpenter’s go-to guy, Michael Jones is a dangerous red-zone threat, and Kyle Williams and Rudy Burgess might be the best receivers of the bunch.

I know better than to base a bet on one potential mismatch that may or may not materialize. Sportsbooks take in a ton of cash during bowl season, so bettors can count on sharp lines everywhere you look.

All the same, I hope money keeps coming in on Texas. As long as Carpenter stays on his feet, I think he has the arm and the targets to regularly hang points on the Horns. An ASU line of +3 or better, then, could be a Christmas gift to unwrap on Dec. 27.

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Re: Holiday Bowl

Holiday Bowl

Texas Longhorns (10-3) vs. Mississippi State Bulldogs (7-5)

If there is a must-see bowl game that falls before the BCS – the Holiday Bowl would be it. Every year, it seems like the Holiday Bowl is able to match-up two relatively even teams from the Pac-10 and Big 12 and we get one of the most exciting and usually high-scoring games of the bowl season. Expect 2007 to be no different.

Sizing Up Texas:
After losing to Texas A&M in the season finale, the Longhorns may be a little disappointed to be in this game. With the loss to their instate rival, the Longhorns were knocked from a possible BCS bid. Although there may be a little bit of a hangover from that game, look for the Longhorn offense to come out firing away. Quarterback Colt McCoy should be able to take advantage of a struggling Sun Devil secondary and he’ll need to have success early – especially with running back Jamaal Charles playing one of the toughest run defenses in the country. McCoy and his receivers will be in charge of spreading things around early, then the offense will give the ball to Charles for 25-30 carries and he’ll look to shine in the second half of this game. The Longhorn defense gave up big plays and yardage through the air this season and against Rudy Carpenter and the Sun Devil offense – it’s a huge concern. The Longhorns need to get pressure on Carpenter and force him out of the pocket. Additionally, with two relatively even teams, this game could come down to creating turnovers and the Longhorns did not have much success in that department this year.

Sizing Up Arizona State: First-year coach Dennis Erickson was brought in to get the Sun Devils over the hump and he nearly had this team in a BCS bowl. Although the Sun Devils fell just short of reaching a likely Fiesta Bowl bid, this is a statement game for this team. The recruiting base in San Diego could prove especially helpful to the future of this team and Erickson would like to get a huge victory for this school. Although the offense had a few ups and downs, they have plenty of firepower to light up the San Diego night. Quarterback Rudy Carpenter battled hand/thumb injuries at the end of the season, but should be 100 percent for this game. Carpenter should be able to have his way against a dismal Texas secondary – which ranks 109th in the NCAA. Look for receiver Mike Jones to be Carpenter’s top deep threat, but Chris McGaha will also factor into the mix. The loss of running back Ryan Torain hurt the ground game, but Keegan Herring and Dimitri Nance have proven to be an effective one-two punch. Look for this offense to spread out the Longhorn defense and Carpenter should be able to have a field day against this secondary. When the Sun Devils are on defense, look for them to try and slowdown Longhorn running back Jamaal Charles. Led by a stout front seven, the Sun Devils ranked 13th in the NCAA against the run and allowed opponents to average just over 100 yards per game on the ground. Although the rush defense was solid, this unit struggled to stop the pass and that could become a factor in this game.

Who Should Shine: Both defenses haven’t exactly been shutdown units this year, so expect offense to rule the day. It’s hard to peg a receiver for either team to shine, especially since they’ve been hit or miss most of the year. However, fantasy owners looking for an option in this game should stick with McCoy, Carpenter and Charles.

The Pick: The 2007-2008 bowl slate has several tough match-ups and this is one of them. It’s a tough one to pick, but we think Mack Brown will have the Longhorns ready to play. Longhorns 34 Sun Devils 31.

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Re: Holiday Bowl

Holiday Bowl: Texas Longhorns vs. Arizona State Sun Devils

- A pair of Top 20 teams who deserved better bowl fates meet in the Holiday Bowl as 10-2 Arizona State battles the Texas Longhorns. The teams meet December 27 at Qualcomm Stadium in the Holiday Bowl, which might be the best of the early bowl games, assuming both teams are interested.

Oddsmakers currently have the Longhorns listed as 2½-point favorites versus the Sun Devils, while the game's total has not yet been posted.

Texas fell into a deep hole last time out, losing 38-30 at Texas A&M as 7-point road favorites. The 68 points scored were OVER the posted total of 60.

Colt McCoy went 17-for-32 for 229 yards, one touchdown and one interception, and Jamaal Charles had 173 combined yards and a major for the Longhorns.

Arizona State allowed 10 points in the fourth quarter but held on for a 20-17 win over Arizona last time out. Arizona State could not cover the 7-point spread, and the 37 points were well UNDER the night's posted total of 57.

Rudy Carpenter completed 20-of-37 pass attempts for 247 yards with two touchdowns in the win.

Team records:
Texas: 9-3 SU, 6-6 ATS
Arizona State: 10-2 SU, 6-6 ATS

Texas most recently:
When playing in December are 6-4
When playing on grass are 7-3
After being outgained are 10-0
When playing outside the conference are 9-1

Arizona State most recently:
When playing in December are 4-5
When playing on grass are 9-1
After outgaining opponent are 6-4
When playing outside the conference are 8-2

A few trends to consider:
Texas is 5-1 SU in its last 6 games
The total has gone OVER in 8 of Texas's last 11 games
Arizona State is 10-2 SU in its last 12 games
The total has gone UNDER in 4 of Arizona State's last 5 games
Arizona State is 1-4 ATS in its last 5 games

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Re: Holiday Bowl

Game Preview for Arizona State vs Texas

GAME NOTES: The 12th-ranked Arizona Sun Devils and the 17th-ranked Texas Longhorns square off for the first-time ever this Thursday, as they meet in the Pacific Life Holiday Bowl at Qualcomm Stadium in San Diego. Under first-year head coach Dennis Erickson, the Sun Devils overachieved, finishing the regular season with 10 wins and earning a share of the Pac-10 Conference championship. The successful regular slate landed ASU in its fourth straight bowl game, and the 23rd ever. The Sun Devils are 12-9-1 all-time in the postseason and they are in search of their first Holiday Bowl win in this, their third try. The team last participated in the Holiday Bowl in 2002, when it was downed by Kansas State, 34-17. As for Texas, its brings a 9-3 ledger into the contest, marking the 10th straight season the team has won at least nine games. The 'Horns are making their 10th straight bowl appearance and that is a school record, bettering the previous mark of nine in a row form 1977-85. Coach Mack Brown's club has posted victories in five of its last six bowl games and that includes a 41-38 triumph over USC to win the BCS National Championship at the Rose Bowl in 2006. Overall, Texas sports a 23-21-2 record in bowl games and that takes into account its 1-2 mark in the Holiday Bowl.

Offensively, the Sun Devils have been nothing short of solid this season, as they are scoring 32.2 ppg behind 405.7 total ypg. The team has done a respectable job rushing the ball, churning out 146.6 ypg, but it has done even better passing it, doing so for 259.1 ypg. Quarterback Rudy Carpenter has put together a sound campaign, hitting 63 percent of his passes for 251.2 ypg. He has thrown for 23 touchdowns with just eight interceptions, and those numbers are even more impressive when considering that ASU has given up a whopping 51 sacks thus far. Although he hasn't caught a touchdown pass yet, Chris McGaha has been one of Carpenter's favorite targets, leading the team in catches (52) and receiving yards (751). Michael Jones ranks second with 38 receptions and 662 yards, and he has been the primary option in the red zone, pulling down a team-best eight touchdown passes. As for the ground attack, it is paced by Keegan Herring, who has amassed 816 yards in averaging 5.4 yards per carry. He has also accounted for five of the team's 17 rushing touchdowns.

Defensively, the Sun Devils have been every bit as good as their offensive counterparts, holding opponents to 20.1 ppg and 334.4 total ypg. The unit has been especially stingy against the run, yielding 100.9 ypg and only seven touchdowns. ASU has been a bit vulnerable against the pass (233.5 ypg), but it has been able to compensate for some of the yards allowed by recording 17 interceptions. The defense has even done a respectable job getting to the quarterback, posting 27 sacks. Dexter Davis has played the biggest part in the team's ability to get into the backfield, as he leads the Sun Devils in sacks (10.5) as well as TFLs (13.5). Robert James heads the club with 99 tackles and he also has six picks to his credit, but Troy Nolan tops the roster with six interceptions.

The Sun Devils defense will surely be put to the test by the Texas offense, which is racking up 36.0 ppg and 462.0 total ypg. What makes the Longhorns so potent is their balance, as they are rushing for 199.8 ppg and passing for another 262.2 ypg. The 'Horns have also been highly successful on third down, converting 48.0 percent of the time. A semifinalist for the Doak Walker Award, tailback Jamaal Charles has had a magnificent season, rolling up 1,458 yards and 16 touchdowns to lead Texas. He is averaging an impressive 6.3 yards per carry and he has also caught 15 balls for another 188 yards. Quarterback Colt McCoy followed up a tremendous 2006 campaign with solid showing this season. The talented gunslinger has completed 64.9 percent of his throws for 260.8 ypg and 21 touchdowns, although he has been intercepted (18) far too often. Still, McCoy is a dual threat, as he is also dangerous when the ball is tucked away, rushing for 408 yards and three scores. Nate Jones and Quan Cosby give McCoy options down the field as the duo has combined for 123 catches, 1,373 yards and 10 touchdowns.

On defense, Texas lacked consistency this season and it comes into this bout allowing 24.6 ppg and 374.8 total ypg. The unit has been difficult to run against (99.3 ypg), but it has been torched through the air, surrendering 275.5 ypg. Forcing turnovers hasn't been a great strength of the unit either, as the 'Horns have recorded a modest 22 takeaways, with 14 coming in the form of interceptions. The defense though, has had some success bringing down opposing quarterbacks, registering 25 sacks. Marcus Griffin leads the team in tackles with 97 and he is tied for first in picks with three. Lamarr Houston and Frank Okam have been the players in charge of getting pressure in the backfield and they have combined for 9.5 sacks and 21 TFLs.

Both teams appear to be pretty evenly matched and that should make for an entertaining affair. Texas, however, has a little more to offer on offense and that is why the 'Horns are the pick here.

Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Texas 31, Arizona State 27

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Re: Holiday Bowl

TEXAS vs. ARIZONA STATE (Holiday)...Horns only 3-7 vs. line their last 10 away from home, including non-cover in Alamo Bowl vs. Iowa LY. Mack 1-2 SU and vs. line in past Holiday Bowls, but only 2-6 vs. spread last 8 bowls overall. ASU no covers its last 4 TY, and Erickson just 1-5 SU and vs. line last 6 bowls with Oregon State & Miami. Tech edge-slight to ASU, based on team trends.

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Re: Holiday Bowl

Holiday Bowl Preview
By Brad Young

Holiday Bowl

Texas Longhorns (9-3 SU, 5-6 ATS) vs. Arizona State (10-2 SU, 6-6 ATS)

How they got there:

This is a marquee matchup between a couple teams that had their sights set on a BCS game. Arizona State feels that it should be playing in the Fiesta Bowl right now, but is pegged for the Holiday Bowl after tying Southern Cal for the Pac-10 title. The Trojans are playing in the Rose Bowl once again after upending the Sun Devils on Thanksgiving, 44-24.

Texas finished second in the Big XII North division behind Oklahoma, riding a late-season five-game SU winning streak. However, the Longhorns concluded their regular season by falling to rival Texas A&M as a seven-point road favorite, 38-30. The combined 68 points eclipsed the 60-point closing total

The Longhorns were ranked as high as fourth earlier this season, but their BCS dreams were dashed midway through the year with back-to-back losses to Kansas State and Oklahoma. Texas is just two years removed from a national championship, and has won nine games or more the past 10 years.

What to expect:

Arizona State improved leaps and bounds this season under first-year head coach Dennis Erickson. The 11th-ranked Sun Devils have consistently been a bowl team the past few years, but are back in the upper echelon compliments of their 10-win season.

The offense is led by junior signal caller Rudy Carpenter, who has thrown for 3,015 yards and 23 touchdowns while completing 63 percent (228-of-362) of his passes. Carpenter will need to have a solid game for Arizona State to prevail, and figures to take advantage of the Texas secondary if the offensive line gives him time.

The Sun Devils’ running backs are banged up heading into this contest, with Ryan Torain out for the year with a toe injury. Keegan Herring just started practicing with the team once again after some late-season injuries. Arizona State’s rushing attack ranked 68th in the country by averaging 146.6 yards per outing.

Texas figures to try to pound the ball behind All-Big XII tailback Jamaal Charles, who ran for 1,458 yards and 16 touchdowns. The Longhorns ranked 26th in the country by averaging 199.8 yards per game on the ground, and 13th in total yards (472).

That is not to imply that Texas is a one-trick pony, especially with quarterback Colt McCoy who has thrown for 3,129 yards and 21 touchdowns while completing 65 percent of his passes. McCoy held the keys to an offense that produced 400 yards of offense or more eight times this season.

The key matchup for the Holiday Bowl is McCoy versus the Arizona State secondary. The sophomore signal caller has thrown 18 interceptions this year, while the Sun Devils have 17 interceptions.

Players to Watch:

Arizona State keys off quarterback Rudy Carpenter, who hopes to take advantage of a Texas defense that has surrendered 275.5 passing yards per contest. The junior signal caller has been especially strong down the stretch, tossing seven touchdowns the last five games along with just one interception.

Texas running back Jamaal Charles was an All-Big XII selection, helping the Longhorns average 199.8 rushing yards per game. Texas ranked 25th in the country in rushing yards, and 19th in scoring by producing an average of 36 points per contest.

Bowl Records:

Arizona State is 0-2 in two previous Holiday Bowl outings, falling to Arkansas back in 1985 and Kansas State in 2002. Head coach Dennis Erickson has coached in the Orange, Sugar and Fiesta Bowls but has not appeared in the Rose Bowl. He had an incredible first season in Tempe, marking the most wins for the school since the Sun Devils went to the 1996 Rose Bowl.

Texas is a Holiday Bowl regular, playing in San Diego four times the previous eight years. The Longhorns fell to Oregon back in 2000, toppled Washington in 2001 and lost to Washington State in 2003. Texas has won three straight bowl games, and five of the previous six to go 6-3 under head coach Mack Brown.

Inside the Line

Las Vegas Sports Consultants opened this contest as a ‘pick,’ but the line has since moved to Texas as a 2 ½-point ‘chalk.’ The total opened at 60 points, but has been bet up slightly to 62. ESPN will provide coverage of Thursday’s Holiday Bowl from San Diego’s Qualcomm Stadium beginning at 8:00 p.m. ET.

Expert Opinion:

“Arizona State needs to keep Rudy Carpenter upright to have a chance to win,” stated Gonzalez. “The Sun Devils offensive line is the weakest link in their team, surrendering 51 sacks this season.

“Texas wants to get running back Jamaal Charles going, especially since he rushed for 1,458 yards and 16 touchdowns this season,” said Gonzalez. This game is going to be a battle of the Longhorns’ rushing attack against Arizona State’s passing. I really like the total in this contest.”

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Re: Holiday Bowl

HOLIDAY BOWL (at San Diego)

(17) Texas (9-3, 5-6-1 ATS) vs. (12) Arizona State (10-2, 6-6 ATS)

The traditionally high-scoring Holiday Bowl features the first-ever meeting between Texas and Arizona State as the college bowl season continues at Qualcomm Stadium in San Diego.

A 38-30 loss to rival Texas A&M as a seven-point favorite in the season finale cost the Longhorns a chance at a BCS at-large berth. Texas had rattled off five straight wins (3-2 ATS) heading into the game against the Aggies, seemingly righting the ship after consecutive Big 12 losses to Kansas State (41-21 as a 15-point home chalk) and Oklahoma (28-21 as 12-point underdogs).

This is the 10th straight bowl game for Texas and its fourth-ever trip to the Holiday Bowl. The Longhorns went 1-2 in the three previous visits to San Diego, going 0-3 ATS. In fact, Mack Brown’s squad is 0-5 ATS in non-New Year’s Day bowl games since 1995.

The Sun Devils jumped out to an 8-0 start (6-2 ATS) under first-year coach Dennis Erickson, but they split their last four games, failing to cover in all four. Arizona State’s first setback came at Oregon 35-23 on Nov. 3 as eight-point underdogs, then lost at home to Southern Cal 44-24 on Nov. 22 as 3½-point ‘dogs. The Sun Devils bounced back in the season finale, beating rival Arizona 20-17, but failing to cover as a seven-point chalk.

Erickson is 5-5 (4-6 ATS) in bowl games, and the Sun Devils are the fourth different team he’s led to the postseason. Arizona State has lost both of its previous Holiday Bowl appearances, but covered the spread in each contest.

Texas had trouble holding onto the ball this season, turning it over 25 times with sophomore QB Colt McCoy throwing 18 INTs, as the Longhorns ranked 79th in the nation in turnover margin. The Texas defense gave up 32 points or more in five games, and the pass defense comes in ranked 109th in the country, allowing 275 yards per game through the air.

Sun Devils QB Rudy Carpenter completed 63 percent of his throws this season for 3,015 yards with 23 TDs and just eight INTs. He ranked third in the Pac-10 in passing yards, but was sacked 51 times this season, third most in the country behind Syracuse and Notre Dame.

Texas went 4-1 SU and ATS on the road this season and is 4-1 ATS in its last five neutral-site affairs. On the negative side, the Longhorns are mired in ATS slumps of 1-4 against the Pac-10, 2-9-1 as a favorite of three points or fewer and 1-6 as a bowl favorite.

Arizona State was 3-1 on the highway this year (2-2 ATS), is 5-1 ATS in its last six against the Big 12 and 10-4 ATS in its last 14 non-conference outings. However, the Sun Devils have failed to cash in four of their last five as an underdog.

The over is 10-3 in the Longhorns’ last 13 non-conference games, 8-2 in their last 10 games as a favorite and 5-2 in their last seven bowl games. On the flip side, Arizona State has stayed under the total in 12 of its last 15 contests overall, including all four of its road games this season, and the under is 5-1 in its last six bowl appearances.


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Re: Holiday Bowl

College Football Gameday

Holiday Bowl
Qualcomm Stadium, San Diego, California
Arizona State vs. Texas

The Sun Devils earned a spot in the Holiday Bowl after going 10-2 and finishing second in the Pac-10. A loss to Pac-10 champs USC cost Arizona State their shot at playing in a BCS Bowl. It was still a very successful season for the Sun Devils, who posted double-digits wins for the first time since 1996. On offense Arizona State is led by quarterback Rudy Carpenter, who passed for 3015 yards with 23 touchdowns and eight interceptions this season. Running back Keegan Herring rushed for 816 yards with five touchdowns, while back Dimitri Nance had seven rushing touchdowns. The Arizona State defense was ranked second in the Pac-10 after allowing 20.1 points and 334.4 yards per game.

The Longhorns ended the regular season poorly as they were upset by Texas A&M in their finale, which snapped their five-game winning streak. Texas went 9-3 on the season with all three of their losses coming against conference opponents. Texas quarterback Colt McCoy passed for 3128 yards with 21 touchdowns, but he also had a problematic 18 interceptions. Running back Jamaal Charles led the Big 12 with 1458 rushing yards and 16 touchdowns. The Texas receiving corps suffered a big loss in October when No. 1 wideout Limas Sweed was lost for the season with a wrist injury. With Sweed sidelined Nate Jones led Texas with 64 receptions for 748 yards and five touchdowns, while Quan Cosby had 59 catches for 625 yards and five touchdowns. The usually strong Texas defense had its problems this season and ranked fourth in the Big 12 after allowing 24.6 points and 374.8 yards per game.

The Sun Devils played in the Hawaii Bowl last season and lost to the Warriors. Arizona State last played in the Holiday Bowl in 2002 when they lost to Kansas State. The Longhorns enter the Holiday Bowl on a three-bowl winning streak after defeating Iowa in last year's Alamo Bowl. Texas last appeared in the Holiday Bowl in 2003 when they lost to Washington State.

This will be the first ever meeting between the Sun Devils and the Longhorns. In the game Texas is a small 3-point favorite, while the total has been set at 62.


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