Shreveport will be rocking Saturday night when the University of California Golden Bears (6-6) face the Texas Tech Red Raiders (6-6) in the 47th edition of the Independence Bowl.
Cal needed a three-game winning streak to close out the season in order to make a bowl game. The battle-tested Bears faced five ranked opponents during 2023, including a brutal four-game stretch in October that saw the Bears lose multiple games to an AP Top 25 opponent.
Texas Tech also propelled itself to a bowl game with a three-game winning streak. The Red Raiders lost starting QB Tyler Shough in September to season-ending surgery on his left fibula, giving sophomore back-up Behren Morton an opportunity to assume the role. He did, winning five of the seven games he started this season.
With a busy transfer portal affecting both teams, will the Red Raiders or Golden Bears come out on top in this postseason contest? We’ll reveal our best bet as well as top player prop bets to explore in the Independence Bowl featuring Cal and Texas Tech.
After Shough’s injury, QB Behren Morton thrived in relief. The Eastland, Texas, native completed 62 percent of his passes for 1,498 yards and 12 TDs against seven INTs. Morton added four TDs on the ground despite clearing only nine rushing yards on his 43 attempts.
While the Red Raiders should be able to move the ball effectively against Cal, bettors should expect Texas Tech to attack the Golden Bears’ rushing defense. On the year, Cal allowed more than 134 yards per game to opponents, meaning Morton’s passing plays may be at a premium against the Bears to cover this player prop bet.
While three WRs lead the Golden Bears in catches, none of the top three receivers are consistently producing every game. The standard for production is Cal TE Jack Endries as he ranks fourth in both receptions (32) and receiving yards (385) this year. The Danville, California, native has caught a pass in every game thus far.
Texas Tech’s vulnerability on passing defense is its LBs. The mid-field pass has been open multiple times over the past four games, and TEs have recorded 12.5 yards per catch against the Red Raiders over those games. Expect Endries to cover this player prop bet by catching at least three passes this game and eclipsing the yardage needed to cover this player prop bet.
Under previous head coaches, Texas Tech was a pass-first, pass-often team. Under second-year HC Joey McGuire the Red Raiders use a balanced attack, actually running the football slightly more than Texas Tech passed this season.
The reason behind the shift is RB Tahj Brooks. The senior from Manor, Texas, is among the nation’s top tailbacks after recording 268 rushes for 1,443 yards and nine TDs in 2023. He added 72 yards receiving, too, and was the featured option in more than 33% of his team’s plays this season.
In all, Brooks notched eight games with more than 100 rushing yards this season. In the last 10 games, Brooks netted at least 95 yards rushing each game. With an offense that revolves around a strong rushing attack, bettors should expect Brooks to eclipse the 124.5 rushing yards marker needed to cover this player prop bet.
Both of these teams can score points. On the year, Cal averaged nearly 32 points per game while Texas Tech produced 26 points per contest. Neither team will be missing any key offensive players for the Independence Bowl, meaning both teams should be able to move the ball effectively. Expect both teams to light up the scoreboard and cover the over in this game.
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