2023 Independence Bowl – California vs Texas Tech

2023 Independence Bowl – California vs Texas Tech

posted December 10

LEAN ADDED FRIDAY DEC 15 6:10pm at bottom of page

The Game

It’s time to head to the northwest portion of the GREAT STATE OF LOUISIANA for the Independence Bowl!

The Golden Bears pulled off a minor miracle getting to a bowl game (6-6) as they won their final three games of the season which included a road blowout win over UCLA (W 33-7). They had some decent moments during the season but almost all of those came at home where they were sneaky-tough. They lost to Auburn by 4, USC by 1, and Oregon St by 12 in the sleepy communist enclave known as Berkeley. Texas Tech had high expectations heading into the 2023 season but they were plagued by inconsistent play and injuries at the QB position. Their most impressive performance was probably an 8-point loss at home to Oregon in week two and their only two wins over bowl teams came vs Kansas (A) and UCF (H). The Red Raiders ended the regular season getting CREMATED by Texas 57-7.

The Details

Texas Tech -3 California (58)

MEGALOCKS LINE – Texas Tech -3

“Vegas” Implied Projected Score: Texas Tech 30.5 California 27.5

Texas Tech offense vs California defense

The Red Raiders weren’t nearly as good as anticipated this season and it had quite a bit to do with the injuries at the QB position. They just couldn’t get into a rhythm with guys in and out of the lineup due to injury. The good news is that QB Behren Morton should be 100% and ready to roll for this game. The bad news is that he was mediocre when called upon this season (62%, 12-7 TD to INT, 6.0 YPA) but we suppose a lot of that could be attributed to a very average WR corps. Two of their top-three receivers have hit the portal (Price, Bradley) so they’ll have a relatively inexperienced unit for this game. The best player on offense is gonna play in this game in RB Tahj Brooks and note that he’s already booked 1,443 yards (!) and 9 TDs on the ground. They’ll need him in this contest BIG TIME as after a bunch of defections there’s nobody else on the team with more than 100 rushing yards in 2023. Of course, there’s also a chance that Brooks could decide to skip the game and enter the NFL draft but we’ve been told that he’s expected to give it a go as we approach press time. The Golden Bears have had a LOT of trouble defending the THROW GAME (#98 FBS pass efficiency D) but they’ve been very good vs the run (#39) and note that they held UCLA to just 70 yards on the ground on 36 carries in the season finale. They also held mighty Oregon to just 153 rushing yards earlier in the year. It won’t help to have lost leading tackler Kaleb Elarms-Orr for this game but they’ve got a good shot of slowing down Brooks.

California offense vs Texas Tech defense

The Golden Bears have also had issues to deal with at QB but they’ve settled in around Fernando Mendoza who led the team to three wins in a row to end the season (62%, 13-7 TD to INT, 6.9 YPA). They’ve got a decent WR/TE group with WRs Jeremiah Hunter and Trond Grizzell combining for over 1,100 yards and 12 TDs. Cal does most of their work on the ground behind star RB Jaydn Ott (1,260, 11 TD) and he’s one of the most underappreciated players at his position in the country. We’ve been told that he’s gonna give it a go in the bowl game (vs enter the transfer portal) but you never know what might happen during the week leading up to the game. The match-up that decides the game, especially if Ott is in there, will be the #33 Cal rushing offense vs the #94 Texas Tech run defense who’ll be missing stud DT Jaylon Hutchings. Texas Tech has been pretty good vs the THROW GAME this year (#29 pass efficiency D; 15-10 TD to INT, 60%, 6.6 YPA) and will provide a good test for the Cal passing attack.

Trends, Intangibles and More!

Texas Tech has a yuuuge edge in special teams per the intrepid Phil Steele (#22, Cal #124) and note that Cal’s PK Mateen Bhaghani has entered the portal and they’re left with Michael “SHANKASAURUS” Luckhurst who’s just 3-9 on FG attempts this season and recall that he missed FIVE in the first two games……Both teams have played tough schedules per the Sagarin ratings….Cal #9 and Texas Tech #7……Texas Tech has been hurt more by players leaving the program but that evens out a bit when you consider that the Golden Bears will be without their OC Jake Spavital who’s off to the Baylor Bears…..We’ll attribute the fact that a team from California is playing in the “Independence” Bowl to HOLIDAY SEASON IRONY as you can get thrown in jail in California for 24 years just for having an American flag bumper sticker.


This is another tough game to call from a handicapping perspective but we think it’ll be entertaining if both star RBs are on the field. We prefer the dog and the under but haven’t gotten to the window yet. We’ll give it a few more days to see if there’s any more roster carnage.


No leanage.

Update – Lean under 58 <it’s probably best to wait until closer to game time as it’s the last game of the day and we could see 58.5 or 59 show up….Both star RBs appear to be a go>


‘Official play’ implies this pick is one of our favorites of the week (perceived value, match-up, coaching, trends, etc.). We’re currently playing these picks for the same amount as the leans but it’s up to you how you want to manage your bankroll. Please see the Week in Review posts for more detail.

‘Lean’ implies we are placing a wager on the game.

‘No leanage’ implies we won’t have any action on the game.

Team totalsWe list the implied number based on the point spread and total when our analysis is posted. If a team total ends up being an official play we will post a widely available number at the time of pick release.