Texas Tech Football: What Red Raiders must do to beat Cal in Independence Bowl

UCF v Texas Tech
UCF v Texas Tech / John E. Moore III/GettyImages
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Texas Tech must be the more excited team to play

The vast majority of bowl games don't matter. That's why one of the participating teams usually doesn't seem to want to be there. Therefore, the team that is the most excited to play the game usually has the edge.

In the 2004 Holiday Bowl against No. 4 Cal, Tech was thrilled for the opportunity to punch up in weight class. Meanwhile, the Golden Bears felt they were destined for a BCS bowl and possibly a title game appearance so for them, facing the unheralded Red Raiders was less than enticing and they played like it in the 45-31 Texas Tech win.

The reverse was true in last year's Texas Bowl where the Red Raiders were pumped to get a shot at SEC member Ole Miss. Having won three-straight games, including the regular season finale against Oklahoma, Tech was riding a wave of positivity whereas the Rebels were in the opposite position having lost three games in a row, including a gutting defeat to rival Mississippi State. The result was a 42-25 Red Raider victory in which it was clear that Joey McGuire's team was the more excited team to play.

Tonight, who will be more exited to be in Shreveport? That's a tough question to answer.

The Red Raiders had the more disappointing season as a whole given the preseason expectations. What's more, the last time they took the field, they were humiliated on national television.

On the other hand, there was a time this year when Tech was just 3-5 and it looked like a postseason game was just a fantasy. So, will the Red Raiders consider it to be a blessing to have one more game to play?

This is where the age of the team might be a blessing. Numerous players on the roster will be playing their final games as a Red Raider. That list includes key starters such as safety Dadrion Taylor-Demerson, defenisve tackle Tony Bradford Jr., defensive backs Rayshad Williams, Tyler Owens, and Malik Dunlap, and offensive linemen Rusty Staats, Cole Spence, and Dennis Wilburn.

Hopefully, those plays will have a desire to leave one last positive impression upon Texas Tech fans. Now, winning the Independence Bowl won't cement these seniors as program legends but it is always better to go out as a winner and to leave a positive final memory with your fanbase.

McGuire is a master motivator. He seems to be able to coax the most out of his teams and that skill will be needed tonight in a stadium that will almost certainly be half-empty. If Tech can play with the type of energy that McGuire coaches with, then it will go a long way toward securing a win in a game that is of little consequence.