Texas Tech football: Youth movement leads Red Raiders to dominant bowl victory over Cal

Dec 16, 2023; Shreveport, LA, USA; Texas Tech Red Raiders defensive linemen E'Maurion Banks (98)
Dec 16, 2023; Shreveport, LA, USA; Texas Tech Red Raiders defensive linemen E'Maurion Banks (98) / Petre Thomas-USA TODAY Sports
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The Texas Tech defense keeps a lid on Jaydn Ott

The Golden Bears had to know they were in trouble when they couldn't figure out a way to get the nation's No. 13 rusher, Jadyn Ott, untracked. For the game, he finished with only 45 yards despite getting 16 carries in what was one of his worst performances of the year.

It was a performance that left many Tech fans wondering what all the fuss about the sophomore was. Of course, Cal didn't do him many favors.

There was a point when the Bears had control of this game in the first quarter. During that time, they could have made it a point to get Ott into the flow of things.

What's more, from the time that Tech tied the game at 14 until the end of the first half, Ott received only three carries over the course of four drives, each coming on first down. It was as if Cal just threw their bread and butter out the window as soon as some adversity hit.

This was Ott's second-lowest rushing output of the year. His 2.8 yards per carry were also a season low.

By keeping Ott in check, the bulk of his yards came on one 26-yard carry in the first quarter, the Red Raiders did exactly what they needed to and put the game completely in Mendoza's young hands. That recipe proved to be a winning one for Tech and though Brooks didn't crack 100 yards either, he looked far more impressive than Ott as this hyped running back showdown turned into an afterthought as the night wore on.

For the year, Tech's run defense wasn't statistically great. However, in the last two wins of the year, against Cal and UCF, the Red Raiders were able to keep a lid on an excellent running back.

When Tech beat UCF 24-23 in Lubbock to get to bowl eligibility, the Knights' 1,000-yard rusher, RJ Harvey had only 78 yards on 20 carries (though he did have two TDs). Ott had an even worse day against the Red Raiders and that proved to be a pleasant surprise given that Tech was without Hutchings and Myles Cole, arguably the two best run-stopping defensive linemen on the team.