Texas Tech 41


Coverage: ESPN

9:00 PM ET, January 2, 2010

Alamodome, San Antonio, TX

1 2 3 4 T
MSU 7 7 14 331
TTU 7 13 7 1441

Top Performers

Passing: T. Potts (TTU) - 372 YDS, 2 TD, 1 INT

Rushing: B. Batch (TTU) - 22 CAR, 100 YDS, 2 TD

Receiving: D. Lewis (TTU) - 10 REC, 114 YDS, 1 TD

Texas Tech blocks out distractions to fight past Michigan St. in Alamo Bowl

Associated Press

SAN ANTONIO -- No questions about Mike Leach. No questions about Adam James.

Those were the ground rules Texas Tech quarterback Steven Sheffield laid down Saturday night after saving the day in a thrilling Alamo Bowl victory that his fired head coach would've loved.

Red Raiders Roll On

Texas Tech's offense didn't skip a beat even without Mike Leach on the sideline.

Texas Tech Offense
Season vs. MSU
PPG 36.7 41
Comp pct. 66.7 70.9
Pass YPG 380.7 472
Total YPG 461.8 580

Let him enjoy it somewhere else, the Red Raiders said. This isn't his team anymore.

"I looked up in the stands and I saw signs about Team Leach. Bring Leach back," running back Baron Batch said. "Leach ain't coming back. That's how it is."

After a week like that, the Red Raiders can finally unwind a little.

With everyone still talking about Leach -- and who can blame them? -- the Red Raiders blocked out the distractions and rallied to beat Michigan State 41-31 in front of an anxious, almost angry crowd that clearly wanted their "Head Pirate" back on the sideline.

They also wanted James gone. Texas Tech fired Leach on Wednesday amid allegations that he mistreated James, son of ESPN analyst Craig James, after the sophomore wide receiver was diagnosed with a concussion.

James declined comment after a night in which fans booed him so loud, it drowned out the marching band at halftime. He was flanked by two security guard as Texas Tech (9-4) celebrated and looked relaxed for the first time since arriving in San Antonio.

The Red Raiders heard the boos. They saw the posters -- "Man up, Adam!" among them.

Fast Facts

• Taylor Potts threw for an Alamo bowl record 384 yards and two touchdowns before injuring his non-throwing hand.

• Steven Sheffield came off the bench to complete 9 of 11 passes for 88 yards and a touchdown to rally Texas Tech.

• Kirk Cousins threw for 220 yards with a touchdown and two interceptions as the Spartans lost their fourth straight bowl game.

• Michigan State allowed an average of 40 points per game in its last three games.

• Texas Tech has won at least nine games in three straight seasons and ended the season with a three-game win streak for the first time since 1995.

-- ESPN Stats & Information

But offensive lineman Brandon Carter had a message for fans: James isn't the one to blame.

"This was not the first situation," Carter said. "This was just the last straw. Sooner or later, something was going to come out. Adam is part of our family. Hopefully, this washes over for Adam and he can stay and he won't have to go."

Interim coach Ruffin McNeill said he also was disappointed in James' reception.

"I wish the fans would not boo our kids," McNeill said. "Things happen in life. They're kids, man."

The tone of the crowd changed after the win. A chorus of "Ruffin! Ruffin!" went out in a thank-you to Leach's defensive coordinator, who navigated the Red Raiders through a week the school is desperate to forget.

The controversy surrounding Leach didn't even quiet long enough to let Saturday belong to the game.

Hours before kickoff, Texas Tech released an affidavit in which school athletic trainer Steve Pincock says he told James he was "sorry" for having placed the player inside an equipment shed near the practice field. Pincock told Tech officials he didn't agree with that "form of treatment for anyone."

Just another layer to a bowl game that cornered the market on turmoil.

No bowl teams in the country kicked off with more upheaval than Texas Tech and Michigan State (6-7). Leach's firing did Michigan State the favor of drawing attention from its own black eye: 14 players who didn't make the trip in the wake of a Nov. 22 dormitory brawl.

Nine Michigan State players face charges of misdemeanor assault. But the short-handed Spartans held their own.

They took a 28-27 lead into the fourth quarter, and appeared to get a break when Tech quarterback Taylor Potts left the game after injuring his non-throwing hand. He left with an Alamo Bowl-record 372 yards and two touchdowns.

But this was still a Leach-built team. And in his offense, quarterbacks thrive.

With Tech down 31-27, Sheffield marched the Red Raiders downfield in eight plays, the last an 11-yard touchdown pass to Detron Lewis. Batch tacked on a 25-yard touchdown run to put it away.

Texas Tech will savor this win -- especially because the future may not be so rosy.

Leach vows he's not done with Texas Tech, and a nasty legal battle likely looms. The Red Raiders also must find a successor to the winningest -- and perhaps most popular -- head coach in Texas Tech history.

McNeill wants the job, and this win might help. Players were unanimous in wanting McNeill back, too.

"With Coach Ruff, the sky's the limit," Batch said. "I love that guy."

But Leach will be a hard act to follow.

It was just a year ago that Leach had the Red Raiders unbeaten and ranked No. 2 in late November. Even Texas Tech's toughest critics were finally acknowledging the Red Raiders as a legitimate contender, and no longer just a gimmicky pest that withered against the nation's elite.

A four-loss encore this season was a letdown, to be sure. But Leach still brought Texas Tech to a ninth bowl game under his watch, more than any of his predecessors.

A mostly full Alamodome crowd of more than 64,000 showed their appreciation.

In Leach vs. Texas Tech, there was no doubt where the fans sided Saturday.

Pirate flags fluttered in the parking lot. Posters venerating Leach and dogging James -- "EVERY SUCCESSFUL PIRATE KNOWS BETRAYAL" hanged prominently behind the Texas Tech bench -- were en vogue in just about every aisle.

Gray-haired alumni made "Fire (Texas Tech AD Gerald) Myers" stickers a popular accessory, and scores of Texas Tech students arrived in "Team Leach" T-shirts. Even a 10-year-old wore a shirt taking a shot at the James family.

If Adam James noticed, he didn't act like it.

He wandered the sideline wearing his No. 82 jersey and a black stocking cap, standing mostly off to the side with other inactive players.

James might have been on the Red Raiders' sideline for the last time. Acting offensive coordinator Lincoln Riley stopped short this week of saying he wanted James back -- and that was after Riley said far worse things about the 21-year-old in e-mails to university administrators.

Riley wrote James was "unusually lazy and entitled" in an effort to save Leach's job. He sent it on Dec. 26.

A week later Saturday, Texas Tech was ready to go home. And leave everything else in San Antonio.

"To the world outside Tech football this week was chaotic," running back Eric Stephens said. "But inside Tech football everyone knew coach Ruff had this team under control."


Team Stat Comparison

1st Downs1331
Total Yards396579
3rd Down Conversions6-168-17
4th Down Conversions1-22-3

Passing Leaders


Rushing Leaders


Receiving Leaders


Scoring Summary

TD08:00Baron Batch 3 Yd Run (Matt Williams Kick) 07
TD03:47Edwin Baker 46 Yd Run (Brett Swenson Kick) 77
FG14:11Matt Williams 21 Yd 710
TD11:01Lyle Leong 2 Yd Pass From Taylor Potts (Matt Williams Kick) 717
TD08:06Keshawn Martin 48 Yd Pass From Kirk Cousins (Brett Swenson Kick) 1417
FG00:20Matt Williams 38 Yd 1420
TD12:15Keith Nichol 7 Yd Run (Brett Swenson Kick) 2120
TD06:32Jacoby Franks 14 Yd Pass From Taylor Potts (Matt Williams Kick) 2127
TD01:18Blair White 8 Yd Pass From Keshawn Martin (Brett Swenson Kick) 2827
FG08:05Brett Swenson 44 Yd 3127
TD05:03Detron Lewis 11 Yd Pass From Steven Sheffield (Matt Williams Kick) 3134
TD02:08Baron Batch 13 Yd Run (Matt Williams Kick) 3141