South Florida squares off against Texas Tech in the 2017 Birmingham Bowl on Saturday, December 23 at Legion Field. The Alabama holiday football event typically has an SEC tie-in, but the conference was not able to fill all its slots this season. Birmingham Bowl Spread: Bulls -3 over Red Raiders.
South Florida and Texas Tech are both offensive minded in scheme. The Bulls rank ninth nationally in yards per game (508.6) and the Red Raiders fall in at 17th (468.4). USF quarterback Quinton Flowers has thrown for 21 touchdowns and rushed for 10 this season. Raiders signal-caller Nic Shimonek has tossed 30 passes for touchdowns and rushed for one. Consequently there won’t be any suspense about the identity of Texas Tech’s starting quarterback leading up to the Birmingham Bowl. Tech head coach Kliff Kingsbury said Sunday that Nic Shimonek will be the guy when the Red Raiders face No. 23 South Florida on Dec. 23.
Especially relevant is that Shimonek was Tech’s starting quarterback for the first 11 games of the season before he came off the bench and threw two fourth-quarter touchdown passes to lead a 27-23 upset at Texas in the regular-season finale. Shimonek ranks 11th in FBS passing efficiency (156.0 rating) and 14th in passing yards (3,547). But the senior was replaced as the starter in the school’s final Big 12 event after struggling in November.
Texas Tech is making its first appearance in the Birmingham Bowl, while South Florida is in the game for second straight year and third time overall.
Finally, the Vegas and Offshore oddsmakers opened South Florida as two-point chalk in the holiday contest. Since Sunday’s initial lines were posted the Bulls have climbed to as much as three-point favorites as several offshore stores and the total in the game currently rests at 67 points.
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