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California vs. Texas Tech 2023 Independence Bowl Odds, Preview & Pick

By Hank Blaine

California’s football program will officially say goodbye to the Pac-12 on Saturday night when the Golden Bears play their final game as a member of that conference ahead of a move to the ACC when they face Big 12 school Texas Tech in the Independence Bowl from Louisiana in a matchup of 6-6 teams.

Saturday will be the second all-time meeting between California and Texas Tech and the first was in the 2004 Holiday Bowl when the No. 23 Red Raiders took down Aaron Rodgers and the No. 4 Golden Bears, 45-31.

California Golden Bears vs. Texas Tech Red Raiders 2023 Independence Bowl Game Information

  • When: Saturday, December 16th, 2023, 9:15 PM ET
  • Where: Independence Stadium, Shreveport, LA
  • TV: ESPN
  • Radio: KGO 810 AM (California) // KTTU-FM 97.3 (Texas Tech)
  • Live Stream: ESPN+
  • College Football Odds: California (+2.5) // Texas Tech (-2.5)

Why Bet on the California Golden Bears?

Texas Tech will be without QB Tyler Shough (not starting at end of year), starting receivers Myles Price and Jerand Bradley, and starting left tackle Monroe Mills among some others on Saturday as they have transferred or opted out or are hurt.

Coach Joey Maguire said he expects QB Behren Morton to finally be at 100% health for the bowl game. Morton was 19-for-36 passing for 88 yards and three interceptions during the season-ending 57-7 loss to Texas and has been battling injuries for weeks. Starting defensive tackle Jaylon Hutchings had surgery and will miss the bowl and starting linebacker Jacob Rodriguez won’t play the rest of this season to preserve his redshirt.

But star running back Tahj Brooks has announced he will stay at Texas Tech for another year and thus will compete in the bowl. Brooks, an All-Big 12 first team honoree and Doak Walker Award semifinalist this season, enters the bowl as the nation’s fourth-leading rusher after totaling 1,443 yards on the ground this season. He currently ranks sixth on the Texas Tech single-season chart and could potentially move to as high as third with another strong performance against Cal.

Brooks has proved to be among the most-elusive rushers in the country this season as he enters the postseason as the FBS leader with 91 forced missed tackles, according to Pro Football Focus. Brooks, who is fourth in the FBS with 919 yards after contact, is the only power-five player with 70 or more forced missed tackles this season.

Texas Tech will make its 41st bowl appearance in history (16-23-1 record) and will be searching for a third-consecutive bowl win on Saturday as the Red Raiders defeated a pair of SEC foes in Mississippi State (2021 Liberty Bowl) and Ole Miss (2022 Texas Bowl) the previous two seasons. With a win over Cal, it would mark only the second time in history and the first time since the 2002-04 seasons that Texas Tech boasted bowl wins in three-consecutive seasons. Texas Tech will be making its third trip to the Independence Bowl as the Red Raiders are winless in their two previous trips with both losses coming against Ole Miss.

The Red Raiders will be facing a member of the Pac-12 Conference for the second time this season and the fourth time in a bowl game. Overall, the Red Raiders are 41-21-2 all-time against current members of the Pac-12 Conference as the only two schools Texas Tech has yet to face in its history are Stanford and UCLA.

TTU has three defensive staff members who previously spent time at Cal with the most notable being defensive coordinator Tim DeRuyter, who served in a similar role with the Golden Bears for the first four seasons under head coach Justin Wilcox from 2017-20.

Why Bet on the Texas Tech Red Raiders?

Cal is very thin at quarterback due to injury/transfer with Fernando Mendoza likely starting and backed up by Belay Brummel and Tyler Jensen. Mendoza opened the season as the third-stringer. Mendoza made history earlier this year against USC, becoming the first Cal QB with multiple pass and rush TD in a single-game since Aaron Rodgers in 2003.

The Bears won their third straight game back on Nov. 25 with a 33-7 victory over UCLA at the Rose Bowl to secure the program’s first bowl bid since 2019 (Redbox Bowl). The Bears are looking to end the season on a four-game win streak for the first time since winning their final four games in 1993 with a 37-3 victory over Iowa at the Alamo Bowl.

Running back Jaydn Ott was named First Team All-Pac-12. He has rushed 229 times for 1,260 yards with 11 touchdowns on the ground (all career highs), while adding 21 receptions for 141 yards and two touchdown catches with one kick return for a 100-yard touchdown. He has 1,501 all-purpose yards and 1,401 yards from scrimmage with 14 total touchdowns. Ott ranks seventh on Cal’s all-time single-season yards rushing list, while he is one shy of the top 10 for rushing touchdowns (four with 12) and four off the school record of 15 shared by J.J. Arrington (2004), Justin Forsett (2007) and Jahvid Best (2008). Ott has five of the top nine rushing games by Pac-12 players in 2023 while no one else has more than one.

Cal is fourth in the Pac-12 with 25 rushing touchdowns. The school record for rushing touchdowns in a season is 34 in 1951. The Bears are averaging 181.1 yards rushing per game (4th Pac-12, 33rd NCAA) the most since putting up 235.2 per game in 2005 and almost double the 96.6 average in 2022.

Linebacker Cade Uluave was named Pac-12’s Defensive Freshman of the Year and named a Freshman All-American. He has contributed 58 tackles, 6.5 tackles for loss (-42 yards), 2.5 sacks (-26 yards), two forced fumbles, two fumble recoveries that he has returned for 51 yards and one of the team’s three fumble returns for a touchdown, two interceptions that he has returned for four yards and three pass breakups. Uluave tied for the team lead in tackles for loss, fumble recoveries and interceptions and recorded all of his stats other than participation over the last seven games. Cal’s defense has been taking the ball away from opponents all season, sitting first in the Pac-12 and leading the NCAA in fumbles recovered (15) and turnovers gained (26).

The Bears are 6-1 against unranked and FCS teams this season, while five of Cal’s six losses (all five Pac-12 defeats) came to ranked teams with a combined record of 47-15 in the regular season. Cal is 12-11-1 all-time in bowl games and 1-1 under head coach Justin Wilcox. Cal has played once previously in Shreveport, a 41-34 loss to Louisiana Tech on Oct. 4, 1997.

California vs. Texas Tech Betting Trends

  • California is 4-1 ATS in their last 5 games.
  • Golden Bears are 7-13 SU in their last 20 games.
  • The total went over in 5 of California’s last 7 games.
  • Texas Tech is 2-4 ATS in their last 6 games.
  • Red Raiders are 9-2 SU in their last 11 games played in December.
  • The total went under in 4 of Texas Tech’s last 5 games played on a Saturday.

California vs. Texas Tech 2023 Independence Bowl Expert Betting Predictions

California 30, Texas Tech 27.

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