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Texas Tech vs. Cal: Picks, best bets for Independence Bowl in Shreveport on Saturday

The Red Raiders and Golden Bears will meet in Shreveport tonight for the Independence Bowl. The Red Raiders enter as a slight favorite in this bowl.

California v UCLA Photo by Katelyn Mulcahy/Getty Images

The 2023 Radiance Technologies Independence Bowl will take place tonight as the California Golden Bears will meet the Texas Tech Red Raiders at Independence Stadium in Shreveport, LA. This bowl will kick off at 9:15 p.m. ET and will air on ESPN.

Cal (6-6, 4-5 Pac-12) managed to eek out bowl eligibility in its final season in the Pac-12, winning its last three contests which included a 33-7 burial of UCLA in the season finale. The Golden Bears offense was powered by First Team All-Pac-12 running back Jadyn Ott, who led the league in rushing with 1,260 yards and 11 touchdowns. On defense, linebacker Cade Uluave won Pac-12 Defensive Freshman of the Year with 59 tackles, 2.5 sacks, two interceptions, and two forced fumbles.

Texas Tech (6-6, 5-4 Big 12) also had an up-and-down season and managed to get bowl eligible with three wins in its last four games. The Red Raiders also had a first-team all-conference tailback in Tahj Brooks, who broke off 1,443 yards and nine touchdowns on the ground this season. They also had the Big 12 Special Teams Player of the Year in punter Austin McNamara, who consistently flipped the field with an average of 46.5 yards per punt.

SP+ Rankings

Cal: 61 overall, 33 offense, 85 defense
Texas Tech: 53 overall, 53 offense, 62 defense

List of injuries and players opting out of game

Cal

QB Sam Jackson - Out (Transfer Portal, 556 yards, 5 TDs)
QB Fernando Mendoza - Listed as starter (8 games, 1447 yards, 13 TDs, 7 INTs)
QB Ben Finley - In transfer portal, listed as backup on depth chart
DB Jeremiah Earby - Out (Transfer Portal)
K Mateen Bhaghani - Out (Transfer Portal)
WR Brian Hightower - Out (NFL Draft, 10 receptions, 101 yards)
RB Isaiah Ifanse - Questionable (lower body).
WR Taj Davis - Out (399 yards, 3 TDs)
RB Jaivian Thomas - Questionable (head)

Texas Tech

WR Myles Price - Out (Transfer Portal, 410 yards, 5 TDs)
QB Tyler Shough - Out (Transfer Portal/Leg injury, 746 yards, 7 TDs)
WR Jerand Bradley – Out (Transfer Portal, 431 yards, 4 TDs)
WR Loic Fouonji - Out (Transfer Portal, 5 receptions, 71 yards)
WR Nehemiah Martinez - Out (Transfer Portal, 68 rushing, 32 receiving yards)
RB Cam’ron Valdez - Out (Transfer Portal, 250 yards, 1 TD)
TE Jayden York - Out (Transfer Portal, 3 receptions, 30 yards)
TE Jordan Green - Out (Transfer Portal)
WR Tyler King - Out (Transfer Portal)
WR JJ Sparkman - Out (Transfer Portal)
WR Jerand Bradley - Out (Transfer Portal)
WR Jordan Brown - Questionable (Hamstring)
DB Tyler Owens - Questionable (Ankle)
LB Steve Linton - Questionable (Back)

ATS/Total

Against The Spread in 2023

Cal: 6-6 ATS
Texas Tech: 5-7 ATS

Total in 2023

Cal: Over 7-5
Texas Tech: Over 5-7

Team Pace

Cal: 2.50 plays per minute of offense
Texas Tech: 2.54 plays per minute of offense

Odds at DraftKings Sportsbook

Spread: Texas Tech -3.5
Total: 58
Moneyline: Texas Tech -185, Cal +154

Opening line: Texas Tech -3.5
Opening total: 58.5

Weather

45 degrees, clear, 9 MPH NNW

Our Best Bet for the Independence Bowl

Over 58

This has a chance to quietly be one of the more entertaining bowls we’ll see early in bowl season. This will feature an interesting clash of running backs in Ott vs. Brooks and both guys should garner plenty of touches as they cap their respective dominant seasons. I think Cal and Texas Tech will put plenty of points on the board and I’d hammer the over here.