The Arizona State Sun Devils and Texas Tech Red Raiders have accepted invitations to play in the 36th annual National University Holiday Bowl, 2013 Bowl President Bill Geppert announced today. It marks the fourth appearance for the Sun Devils and the second appearance for the Red Raiders in the San Diego bowl game.
The National University Holiday Bowl kicks off at 7:15 p.m. Monday, Dec. 30 at Qualcomm Stadium and will be televised on ESPN.
"We are fired up that this year's bowl game is going match a pair of high-scoring, potent offenses from two of the strongest conferences in the nation," said Geppert. "We can't wait to roll out the red carpet and welcome these two fine teams and their legions of fans to San Diego."
The Sun Devils enter the bowl with a 10-3 mark after winning the Pac-12 South Division. The Red Raiders closed the 2013 regular season with a 7-5 record overall.
For Arizona State, All-Pac-12 quarterback Taylor Kelly commands a Sun Devil offense that averages 41 points per game, the ninth most in the nation, and includes eight all-conference selections and dynamic playmakers at every position. Running backs duo Marion Grice and DJ Foster have tallied nearly 3,000 all-purpose yards, including 1,365 rushing yards and 1,068 receiving yards this season. Grice, a Hornung Award finalist, racked up 20 touchdowns in 11 games and is third in the nation with 176 all-purpose yards per game, and wide receiver Jaelen Strong has 71 catches for 1,094 yards, the fifth and seventh highest marks in school history.
Led by two-time Pat Tillman Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year defensive tackle Will Sutton, leading tackler linebacker Chris Young and six other all-conference honorees, the Sun Devil defense averages more than three sacks per game and has forced 31 turnovers, the fifth most in the nation. ASU has consistently held teams below their season average in passing yards and has notched 21 interceptions, including five touchdown returns behind a trio of senior defensive backs. Lou Groza Award semifinalist Zane Gonzalez scored 127 points to set a single-season school record for kickers and made 18 consecutive field goals between Sept. 28 and Nov. 30.
"The annual goal for every college football team is to have a successful season and earn a reward to play in a bowl game," Sun Devil Head Coach Todd Graham said. "We are very proud to have reached that goal by participating in the National University Holiday Bowl against a worthy opponent such as Texas Tech. It will be an honor to travel to and participate in this wonderful bowl experience in one of America's greatest cities. It will be our pleasure to fulfill all of the expectations of the Holiday Bowl committee and of their community and to represent the Sun Devil Nation with class and character. Also, the San Diego area is a recruiting priority of ours so it will be an opportunity for us to bring our product to Southern California. And the Sun Devil fans, which have been so good to us all season, can get to San Diego on an easy flight or in a short drive."
Texas Tech's offense is led by junior tight end and All-America candidate Jace Amaro. Amaro needs just 90 yards in the game to set a new NCAA single-season record for the most receiving yards by a tight end and his 1,240 yards ranks 10th nationally while his 98 receptions rank sixth. The Red Raiders boast the No. 2 passing offense in the nation, averaging 392.0 yards-per-game through the air.
The Red Raider defense is led by senior linebacker Will Smith. Smith is having a monstrous senior season and leads the team with 106 tackles and five sacks. His 106 tackles rank third in the Big 12 Conference and 47th nationally. As a unit, the Red Raiders are holding opponents to 34.6 percent (ranks 26th nationally) on third down.
"We are excited about the opportunity to play in the National University Holiday Bowl," Head Coach Kliff Kingsbury said. "The Holiday Bowl has a reputation for providing a phenomenal experience for their teams. ASU is a very good football team and we will have to play our best."
Tickets for the 2013 National University Holiday Bowl can be purchased by calling TicketMaster at 1-800-745-3000, or by visiting www.HolidayBowl.com. Fans can also purchase tickets at Qualcomm Stadium, Window B, Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.