Two explosive offenses will face off in the Birmingham Bowl on Saturday.
Texas Tech (6-6) and USF (9-2) will pit two of the game’s more efficient senior quarterbacks against each other, in what is expected to be a back-and-forth scoring affair.
USF’s quarterback Quinton Flowers threw for 21 touchdowns and six interceptions , a career-low, in 2017. In his first full season under center, Texas Tech’s quarterback Nic Shimonek tossed 30 touchdowns and eight interceptions this season.
Former Texas head coach, Charlie Strong led USF to nine wins and his team lost two games by a combined 11 points. Texas Tech started the season 4-1 but couldn’t compete in the Big 12 and suffered four straight losses in the middle of their schedule.
When Strong was at Texas, he went 2-1 against Texas Tech.
Players to watch
Wilkins, a junior cornerback, has a nose for the football and figures to have a lot of balls thrown his way against a pass oriented Red Raiders attack. Wilkins finished the season with three interceptions and a half sack. Wilkins’ lanky frame allows him to get in and out of breaks and makes him a tough assignment for Texas Tech wide receivers.
Nadelman is one of the most lethal kickers in college football. Nadelman is 20/24 this season and didn’t miss a field goal last season. In a game that should be high scoring and back and forth, Nadelman has the leg and accuracy to put the game away with a field goal from 40 yards plus.
Cantrell stands 6’3 and 220lbs and is a prototypical red zone target. Cantrell should be able to sky over the diminutive South Florida starting corners, who stand 5’8 and 6’0 respectively. Expect Kingsbury to give Cantrell a few jump ball opportunities in the Birmingham Bowl. Cantrell finished the season with six touchdowns.
After a stint at East Mississippi Community College and a starring role on Last Chance U, Dakota Allen has returned to Texas Tech and made himself one of the best linebackers in the Big 12. Allen leads a defense that led the Big 12 in turnovers forced. Allen had two interceptions and a forced fumble this season. An athletic linebacker, who is also willing to stop the run, bodes well against a balanced USF offense.
Texas Tech 35 USF 38
—Troy Jefferson, DN Staff Reports