Arizona State came into the Holiday Bowl as heavy favorites over the Texas Tech Red Raiders, but in the first half, it looked like the Red Raiders were the ones expected to walk away with a blow out victory.
Texas Tech received the opening kickoff and started the game with a 14-play, 77-yard scoring drive capped off by a 1-yard touchdown pass from Davis Webb to Rodney Hall.
Webb and fellow quarterback Michael Brewer shared reps on the opening drive of the game and it looked like the Red Raiders reverted to the Mike Leach era because regardless of who lined up under center, everything was working for Texas Tech.
The Sun Devils went three-and-out on their opening drive, and that series set the tone for the way Arizona State would play throughout the majority of the first half. On the first play from scrimmage, Taylor Kelly and D.J. Foster botched a zone-read play that resulted in a negative play and the Sun Devils never recovered.
The Red Raiders assumed possession after a Sun Devil punt and drove right down the field on another scoring drive. Speedy slot receiver Jakeem Grant put the exclamation point on the series with an 18-yard touchdown catch to give Texas Tech a 13-0 lead.
After a career-long field goal of 44 yards from Zane Gonzalez on the Sun Devils' next drive, Arizona State recovered a fumble on the subsequent kickoff but once again failed to find the end zone. A field goal made the game 13-6, but Texas Tech had no plans of letting the Sun Devils back into the game.
A 23-yard touchdown pass from Webb to Brad Marquez made the score 20-6, and Jakeem Grant found the end zone for a second time on the Red Raiders' next drive to give his team a 21-point lead early in the second quarter.
The Sun Devils were in need of a break, and they got one on special teams. After another failed possession, Arizona State punted the ball away to Texas Tech. Red Raider returner Jordan Davis muffed the punt and the Sun Devils recovered to set up a 20-yard touchdown run from D.J. Foster.
On the Red Raiders' next series, the Sun Devil defense came up with its second third down stop of the evening. After starting the game 6-for-7 on third down, Davis Webb missed on a pass over the middle after feeling pressure from Carl Bradford off the edge.
When the Sun Devils took over, they faced a fourth down and inches from their own 34-yard line and Todd Graham opted to go for it. After Taylor Kelly pushed ahead on a quarterback sneak, the Sun Devils kept the ball on the ground and drove to the Red Raider 1-yard line.
But on first and goal, Kelly couldn't handle the snap from center Kody Koebensky and the Sun Devils lost six yards. After Kelly took a sack on second down, the Sun Devils elected to rush the field goal unit onto the field on third down instead of spiking the ball and stopping the clock. Kicker Zane Gonzalez missed a chip shot of an attempt from 24 yards and Texas Tech escaped without allowing a point.
The Red Raiders hold a 27-13 halftime lead and a 347-181 advantage in total yards. Davis Webb threw for 301 yards compared to just 14 for Taylor Kelly, and the Sun Devils don't seem to have an answer for any Red Raider playing in the slot.
Arizona State played its worst football of the season in the first half, but the Sun Devils will get the ball to start the second half.