5-Things: Baylor vs Texas Tech

The 9-1 Bears travel up I-35 to take on the 4-7 Red Raiders in Arlington, with one team looking to continue a run to a Big 12 Championship and the other getting ready for their last game of 2014.

1. With a 34-31 win over the Iowa State Cyclones, the Texas Tech Red Raiders improved to 4-7 on the year and ended a 3-game slide. The four wins for the Red Raiders have come against teams with a combined 9 FBS wins. They are just 2-6 in Big 12 play with wins over the Cyclones and Kansas. Patrick Mahomes got his third straight start for the Red Raiders for the injured Davis Webb. He had by far his best game of the year, throwing for 328 yards on 35 passes including 4 touchdowns. Mahomes has played well the past few weeks, including in a 42-30 loss to Oklahoma that also saw him throw for 4 touchdowns and a season high 393 yards. Davis Webb has been out with an ankle-injury and might be able to come back for the Baylor game. If Webb can’t go again, it will be the second freshman quarterback in a row to start a game against Baylor.

2. Junior running back Deandre Washington eclipsed the 1,000 yard mark in their win against Iowa State, which saw him run for 186 yards and a touchdown. He averaged over 9 yards per carry and this was his third 100+ yard rushing day of the season. The Red Raiders rushing attack has actually been not awful, as they rank a respectable 72nd in the nation in rushing with over 157 yards per game. In the hey-day of the Air Raid attack, they were about 40 yards less per game and were closer to the 100s in rank. Washington is the lead back getting 15 carries per game, with backup Justin Stockton being the backup. Stockton is a big play threat, averaging over 8 yards per carry and leads the team with 4 rushing touchdowns.

3. This is still a pass heavy attack, with Webb and Mahomes combining for 34 passing touchdowns and averaging 327.6 yards per game through the air (6th best in the nation). Their receivers are led by junior Jakeem Grant who has a team high 62 catches for 783 yards. Bradley Vasquez and Devin Lauderdale have also stepped up in recent weeks as well, to give the Red Raiders a solid wide receiver group. The issue for the offense has been turnovers (17 interceptions and a -10 turnover margin) to go along with being the second most penalized team in the nation (85.9 yards per game in penalties, second to only Baylor with 89.4).

With turnover issues and penalties stalling drives to go along with just a 43.04% 3rd down conversion rate (49th in the nation) the Red Raiders have struggled to sustain drives. Tech has done a good job this year of getting big plays though, with thirty-one plays for over 30 yards (11th most in the nation). They are a Top-25 team in terms of big plays.

4. While the offense has struggled a bit with turnovers and penalties, the defense has been absolutely awful at times, especially against the run. They allow 259.91 yards per game on the ground (124th in the nation) and 5.24 yards per carry. Simply put, this is an awful run defense and it is only getting worse. Over the past four games, they have allowed 1195 yards on the ground or 298.5 yard per game, a 6.32 yards per rush average and a ridiculous 13 touchdowns. Even against Iowa State, they allowed 265 yards and a 5.76 yards per rush average.

The passing defense has been almost as bad, allowing 249.6 yards per game (96th) and a hefty 8 yards per completion. They don’t sack the quarterback that much (1.91 sacks per game – 75th in the nation / 5.88% of passing plays result in a sack – 63rd in the nation) or really make that many negative plays (Just 5.18 tackles for loss per game – 95th in the nation).

5. All of this awful defense has given the scoreboard operator a workout wherever the Raiders are playing. They are the 3rd worst team in the nation in points allowed per game (40.6). You need just 12.6 yards to gain a single point (111th in the nation) and their points per play metric (.506) is 118th in the nation. This is a team with an above average offense and a bad defense, and their record shows it. They are still capable of making some good teams work for a win (see Oklahoma game), but they have taken a big step backwards in year 2 of the Kliff Kingsbury era.

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