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2010 Alamo Bowl Point Spread: Michigan State v Texas Tech (TT -7.5, O/U 59.5)
The 2010 Alamo Bowl has pretty much become secondary event to the controversy surrounding the game. On Wednesday, Head Football Coach Mike Leach was fired following a suspension in which he “refused to agree to guidelines for dealing with players set forth by his bosses in a Dec. 23 letter.” The suspension and subsequent firing surround sophomore wide receiver Adam James and his alleged mistreatment following a concussion. The firing comes just 3 days before the team plays Michigan State in which they are 7.5 point favorites entering the Alamo Bowl. Defensive coordinator Ruffin McNeil will be the interim head coach for the Texas Tech Red Raiders as they should easily handle the Spartans.
The 2010 Alamo Bowl had very little intrigue before the Mike Leach controversy and it still has even less intrigue afterwards. The 8-4 Red Raiders are simply way too vertical and explosive for the 7-5 Spartans to keep this game competitive for even a half. Coming into the game, the Spartans were already going to be down as Chris Rucker and starting wide receivers BJ Cunningham and Mark Dell were suspended for the game. The weakened secondary which is already ranked in 109th in the nation, allowing 265.5 yards per game will be facing a Texas Tech team ranked 2nd in the nation in passing yards with over 378.5 per game.
The Texas Tech offense is led by two quarterbacks, junior Taylor Potts and junior Steven Sheffield. Potts led the Big 12 in passing yards at 306.8 yards per game and guided the team to wins over Oklahoma and Baylor late in the season. Sheffield started 4 games in the absence of Potts due to injury and was still able to lead the Red Raiders to a 3-1 record with 13 touchdowns to only 4 interceptions. Tech has a multitude of weapons this season with 9 players having over 20 receptions. Leading the core of receivers is freshman Alexander Torres with 65 catches, 791 yards, and 6 touchdowns. The spread offense allows for too many options for which Michigan State cannot account for.
The Michigan State offense has absolutely no chance of keeping this game close. Their 41st ranked offense in points and 42nd in yards is too vanilla in almost every way to keep up with Red Raider offense. Sophomore quarterback Kirk Cousins had a nice season with 18 touchdowns to only 7 interceptions. Starting running backs Larry Caper and Edwin Baker combined for 4.2 yard average, 52nd in the nation and averaged only 73 yards per game, ranking 73rd in the nation. Texas Tech will counter with a defense that is ranked 19th against the run and 74th against the pass. Not overly impressive and in some respects bad for the young defense, but good enough to force enough punts and let their offense score.
The Red Raiders will take full advantage of the poor Spartan secondary. Suspension or not, high ranking pass defense or not, the Red Raiders like to throw the football. Ranking 1st in passing attempts, 68.9% of all plays called air pass attempts. The style of offense Texas Tech plays in no way matches or sets up well with how Michigan State plays defense. Even hoping for the Michigan State defense to be opportunistic and pick a few balls off is fleeting at best since they are ranked 118th in interception percentage at 1.2% chance per attempt. Take away their best cover corner due to suspension and this number probably drops to sub 1%.
This season Texas Tech is 6-5 ATS while Michigan State is 4-6-1 ATS. Spartans are 4-1 ATS in their last 5 games following a double-digit loss at home and 9-3 ATS in their last 12 games following a ATS loss. The Red Raiders are 1-3-1 ATS in their last 5 non-conference games and 1-6 ATS in their last 7 games on grass. In bowl games, the Red Raiders are 0-4 ATS in their last 4 games.
The total points for the 2010 Alamo Bowl game are 59.5. Texas Tech has a 4-7 O/U record this season with Michigan State having a 7-4 O/U this season. UNDER is 4-0 in Red Raiders last 4 games overall, but the OVER is 5-1 in Red Raiders last 6 bowl games as a favorite of 3.5-10.0. OVER is also 4-1 in Red Raiders last 5 Bowl games. The OVER is 4-0 in Spartans last 4 games overall with the UNDER at 12-3-1 in Spartans last 16 games following a double-digit loss at home.
2010 Alamo Bowl Texas Tech-Michigan State Pick:
Ignore all the hoopla surrounding the game and just focus on the teams playing the game. Hoping that Texas Tech does the same, their passing offense will be more than enough to cover the 7.5 points against a terrible Michigan State passing defense. Lay money on the OVER as well. Michigan State is not as pass heavy as Texas Tech, but they do average close to 30 points a game and neither team is a defensive juggernaught to contend with. Both teams can score, just expect Texas Tech to score much, much more.