Iowa State pass offense vs. Texas Tech pass defense
Does Texas Tech even have a pass defense? Texas Tech and pass defense is synonymous with military intelligence and moderate Arab nation, all three are oxymorons. The Red Raiders rank 10th in the Big 12 in this category, allowing 243 yards through the air per game. They've also surrendered a league-high 11 touchdown passes, although that number is somewhat skewed by the fact they've played an extra game and another which went to overtime. Nonetheless, Texas Tech doesn't have a player that ranks near the top of the Big 12 in sacks or interceptions, which means they lack playmakers. DE Aaron Hunt was being touted as a preseason All-American candidate following a solid junior season, but he has just one sack this season. Meanwhile, Seneca Wallace and the Iowa State pass offense is one of the most potent in the nation. Last week, Texas A&M's Dustin Long threw for 367 yards and a school-record seven touchdown passes against this secondary in his first career start. Yes, that's the same Texas A&M offense which had not thrown for more than 250 yards in a game all season before last week and only had one touchdown pass on the season as well. Advantage: Iowa State.
Iowa State run offense vs. Texas Tech run defense
Does Texas Tech even have a run defense? Texas Tech and run defense is synonymous with military intelligence, moderate Arab nation, and Texas Tech pass defense. All four are oxymorons. The Red Raiders are 88th in the nation in run defense, and among their six opponents so far this season only Ohio State and Texas A&M would be considered strong running teams. Linebacker Lawrence Flugence was a preseason All-American and he already has 72 tackles on the season. Still, only Kansas allows more points per game in the Big 12 than does Texas Tech. Meanwhile, the Iowa State rushing offense has been spotty at times in big games. Against Florida State it was adequate, against Iowa it was nonexistent, and against Nebraska it was stellar. The weather could play a factor here. If the strong winds and rain predicted earlier this week arrives, the Cyclones will have the advantage with the more diversified offense. They'll also rush for more than the 162 yards per game they're currently averaging. Look for a big game out of Hiawatha Rutland. Advantage: Iowa State.
Texas Tech run offense vs. Iowa State run defense
Frankly, this is an unfair comparison because the Red Raiders are as close a to 1980s run-and-shoot team as there is in college football right now. The run is an afterthought for them, but that doesn't mean it's not dangerous. Texas Tech Coach Mike Leach loves to sneak in the draw once he's got a defense back on its heels defending the pass. N.C. State took Texas Tech's run for granted, and it almost cost the Wolfpack their spotless record when the Red Raiders gained a season-high 207 yards on the ground against them in an overtime loss. Iowa State's rush defense is improving, and is coming off a dominant performance against Nebraska. However, the Cyclones still rank seventh in the Big 12 and 46th nationally in that category. Poor weather would help Iowa State here because it could render Texas Tech one-dimensional. If that happens, the Red Raiders are in trouble because their offense isn't designed to depend on the running game. Advantage: Iowa State.
Texas Tech pass offense vs. Iowa State pass defense
The Cyclones need to understand going in they are going to give up completions and yards. The design of Leach's offense makes it nearly impossible not to do so. What you have to do well is not allow yards after the catch. That's what Iowa did well in the Alamo Bowl last December and its what teams with superior talent like Texas and Oklahoma do well against this offense year in and year out. Kliff Kingsbury's numbers last week against A&M's alleged wrecking crew defense were Play Stationesque. Completing 49 of 59 passes is insane, even in practice. For the season, he's completed 200 of 299 pass attempts for an average of 355 yards per game with a 22-5 touchdown-to-interception ration. This just in: he's pretty good. The Cyclones pride themselves on having a top-notch secondary, and it is steep in depth and athleticism. This week, it will need to be steep in tackling technique and positioning as well. The success of John Skladany's defense against this offense could also hinge on the ability of the front four, or front three in some cases, to apply pressure on Kingsbury. The Red Raiders have allowed 25 sacks for 158 yards in six games in their quick-strike offense. Weather could play a factor here as well. Advantage: Texas Tech.
The Red Raiders aren't much of a threat on kickoff returns, but Wes Walker can be a difference-maker in punting situations. He's already returned two punts for touchdowns this season, as has Todd Miller for the Cyclones. Texas Tech kicker Robert Treece has a strong leg, and is four-of-six kicking field goals from beyond 40 yards. However, his 58 percent accuracy rate indicates he struggles with consistency at times. It's the exact opposite for Iowa State's Adam Benike, who is a solid 9-of-12, but his longest is just a 38-yarder. Punter Tony Yelk's booming leg is an advantage here because field position against Kingsbury and the Texas Tech offense is a factor. Advantage: Iowa State.
Mike Leach has maintained the success his predecessor Spike Dykes experienced in Lubbock with his gimmicky, yet effective offense. A former law school student, Leach is smart, has Iowa ties, and deserves credit for the success Tim Couch and Josh Heupel enjoyed in college. Right now, his program is a perennial bowl contender, as is Dan McCarney's program in Ames. Advantage: even.
It will be interesting to see if any of the smack we heard out of Lane Danielsen and JaMaine Billups this week will have any impact on the game. Considering the timing of that atypical Cyclone talk, with the team coming off a bye week and owning a school-best #11 national ranking, one has to wonder if the players are feeling a little smug. Sometimes the transition from the hunter to the hunted can be difficult, and let's hope that won't be the case on Saturday night. This team still has a chance at a special season, but that would go by the wayside with a loss here. The Red Raiders enter with confidence after a big win over hated rival Texas A&M. I don't think poor weather will have quite the impact Iowa State expects. It gets windy in west Texas, too, and the majority of Texas Tech's passes are of the dink-and-dunk variety anyway. Advantage: even.
The Red Raiders will get their points and yards, regardless of the weather. However, the Cyclones have better personnel overall and will get more.
Iowa State 30, Texas Tech 21