LUBBOCK — The stage is set. Texas Tech enters crunch time of the 2010 season. Statistics are against them and most of the country predicts a loss to Missouri at home on Saturday night. But, just like recent home games against Oklahoma in 2007 and 2005, Texas in 2008, and even Texas A&M in College Station in 2002, Texas Tech must find a way to win this game. Few people outside of Tech's players and coaches truly believe a victory is possible, but that's okay. Often, when the odds are not in your favor, the best comes forth. In such games, effort, enthusiasm, execution, and good fortune meld together to create a seemingly unbelievable experience. That will be Texas Tech on Saturday.
Texas Tech Passing
Though it's unclear which of the Red Raiders' senior signal callers will get the nod, both should play. Taylor Potts paces the Texas Tech offense. So far, he is 236-361 (65%) for 2,388 yards with 21 TDs and five INTs. Backup Steven Sheffield is 13-22 for 146 yards with two TDs and one INT.
Texas Tech Rushing
Baron Batch leads the Red Raiders with 103 carries for 449 yards and four scores on the ground. Backup Eric Stephens has 87 touches for 437 yards and also four TDs. The Red Raider ground attack must hold on to the ball against a stingy and aggressive Missouri defense.
Texas Tech Receiving
Tech's passing game has been a disappointment this season. Bad throws, dropped passes, injuries and inconsistency have plagued the Red Raiders in 2010. But the cream rises to the top and Tech has plenty of weapons to attack any team left on the schedule. Lyle Leong is Tech's primary target. He has 47 catches for 588 yards and 13 scores this season. Detron Lewis is next with 49 catches for 495 yards and two TDs. RB Stephens is next with 24 catches for 182 yards and two TDs. His counterpart, Batch, has 18 grabs for 110 yards and one score. Austin Zouzalik has 13 catches for 180 and one score and Cornelius Douglas has 11 for 120 and a score.
Blaine Gabbert leads a balanced Missouri attack. This season he is 199-311 for 2,098 yards with 12 TDs and four INTs. He also adds two scores on 67 runs.
De'Vion Moore leads the Tigers' rushing attack with 56 carries for 328 yards and five scores. Henry Josey adds 54 touches for 325 yards and four scores and Kendial Lawrence has 41 carries for 184 yards and two scores. Marcus Murphy and James Franklin have two scores and one respectively to finish MU's ground game scoring.
TJ Moe is the top target for Blaine Gabbert. He has 58 catches for 696 yards and four scores. Michael Egnew adds 63 receptions for 515 yards and three TDs. Jerrell Jackson and Wes Kemp have three TDs each to finish the receiving scores.
Off the Cuff Thoughts
We'll see the talent Texas Tech has to display on Saturday. Going against Missouri's defense appears to be a monumental task for the Red Raiders. The offensive line must block well for the QBs and the RBs. On the other hand, Missouri's aggression plays right into the strength of Texas Tech's talent at tailback. Successful execution should yield positive yardage on draws and in the screen game. Injuries to Alex Torres and Jacoby Franks give the other guys an opportunity to step up. Look for Austin Zouzalik to make some plays. It will be pivotal for the passing to have success against Missouri early. That will slow the Tigers pass rush and eventually open some running lanes for Batch and Stephens. Don't be too surprised to see more speed on the field. If Ben McRoy and Harrison Jeffers get the ball in space, it could be a score for the Red Raiders. With all the injuries James Willis' crew has on defense, scoring points will be vital throughout the rest of the season.
Prediction: Missouri 45, Texas Tech 31