The first college football game of 2011 is a bowl that's never been held before. Northwestern will take on Texas Tech in the TicketCity Bowl at noon in Dallas' famed Cotton Bowl.
WHAT'S AT STAKE
Northwestern hasn't won a bowl game since its very first, the 1949 Rose Bowl. The Wildcats have lost seven straight, all since 1996. At least they're getting closer, having gone to overtime each of the last two seasons. A victory would be the 35th for the senior class, the most since the early 1900s.
Texas Tech can wrap up a three-game winning streak to end coach Tommy Tuberville's first season since he took over for Mike Leach. The Red Raiders won their bowl game last year despite the huge distraction of the Leach saga playing out, and are in the midst of another coaching shuffle with defensive coordinator James Willis being sent away Sunday because he was interested in interviewing elsewhere.
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The Northwestern defense has allowed 118 points over its last two games and Texas Tech has scored 99 points over its last two games. So Wildcats' DE Vince Browne and DT Corbin Bryant will need to put pressure on Red Raiders QB Taylor Potts, while CB Jordan Mabin and S Brian Peters will need to prowl the secondary.
PLAYERS TO WATCH
Northwestern: Freshman QB Evan Watkins was thrust into starting the final two games and threw four interceptions. But he's gotten more comfortable over the 15 practices leading up to this game.
Texas Tech: Potts threw for 462 yards the last time he played in this stadium, the Cotton Bowl, and that was just a few months ago. It was the most ever at the stadium that opened in 1936.
FACTS & FIGURES
- This is the first ever TicketCity Bowl, bringing college football back to the Cotton Bowl stadium after a one-year absence. Only the Rose Bowl has hosted more college bowl games.
- Both schools come in 4-0 against nonconference foes this season.
- Northwestern has seven players from Texas on its roster.
- Tuberville is 1-0 at the Cotton Bowl on New Year's Day, having led Auburn past Nebraska in 2007.