The biggest matchup for the Texas Tech Red Raiders this week may have been themselves, which explains that after multiple injuries, an arrest after the win over West Virginia, Texas Tech football has been in lockdown mode all week.
Tommy Tuberville knows this team is too good and this game is too important to let success get into the heads of the Red Raiders.
"I hope we learn from last year because we pretty much around the same part of the season did the same thing," Tuberville said. " We did something nobody else thought we could do and we didn't win another game. We've got to get focused on every day of what we've got to do to get better.
On the field, TCU brings in a team that has lost over 20 players on the roster since the start of spring practice in 2012. The Frogs are even more depleted since injuries and suspensions have factored in throughout the season. TCU, to its credit, hasn't felt sorry for itself. They have persevered and are one win away from qualifying for a bowl game. This game is going to determine a lot of the positioning of where these two teams will play.
Passing game: Seth Doege and company have to attack TCU and the receivers to make a big plays. Similar to the Texas Tech D, the TCU defense will try to keep the play in front of them. Iowa State connected for two scores over 50 yards in addition to a trick play score on a reverse pass from receiver Josh Lenz. Baylor, in a loss had two long touchdown passes to Terrance Williams. If Darrin Moore, Eric Ward and company want to prove they are better than most receiving corps in the Big 12 Conference, then one or all of them will make a big play.
That said, TCU is leading the league in turnovers 14 interceptions and 6 fumble recoveries. I understand over half of their interceptions came from Garret Gilbert and Nick Florence, but Doege still has to be careful. Get too greedy and one could still go the other way.
Running game: How will the passing game get opened up? Play action. That means Kenny Williams and Eric Stephens have to run effectively. TCU is leading the league in rush defense, so that means yards may not be at a premium, but Texas Tech has to stick to the run. Iowa State ran for 153 yards versus the Frogs, but it wasn't pretty. Only 4.3 yards per carry which included a 33 yard end around by Aaron Horne (see the part above about trick plays.) If the secondary plays run first, eventually one will bite and that has to connect for a big play. Also, with Moponga playing on a bad ankle (if he plays), I run right at him. Make him change directions and use it to your advantage.
Passing defense: Another dual threat quarterback takes the field against the Red Raiders. I challenged the Tech fans all summer to name a skill position player other than Pachall on TCU's roster. No one could. But, TCU has produced some decent playmakers at wideout in Brandon Carter and Josh Boyce . If Boykin can get them the ball, the defense has to tackle at the point of attack. This game will be won for Texas Tech, however, with the defensive line putting pressure on Boykin, and forcing him into some bad throws and possible INTs. I do think Boykin will be a little more willing to make a few plays with his feet than Geno Smith was last week, because he's not as polished of a passer as Smith.
Run defense: TCU's running game has been hardest hit by the injuries and defections. While the Horned Frogs will try to run the football, it won't be the way TCU beats Texas Tech. The Red Raiders are #2 in run defense in the league and only 4 yards per game behind TCU. Their best bet is for Boykin to try to make a play.
Special Teams: Gary Patterson believes in his defense enough that I think he'll kick field goals if given the opportunity, unlke Dana did last week. He'll try to keep the game close. Remember in 2006, TCU beat Tech 12-3. Bustin has to have a good day if this game is close.
Most important defensive matchup for Tech: TTU secondary versus the TCU receivers. The DBs have to cover and make a play. Make this freshman QB make mistakes.
Most important offensive matchup for Tech: Doege versus the TCU secondary. A good game by Doege will prove he can play against a team with good defensive backs, as we'll see with K-State and Texas. A bad game and the Red Raiders will probably have to play from behind. TCU is very good at taking advantage of the short field.
Biggest mismatch for Tech: TTU DL versus TCU OL. The D-Line dominated against West Virginia and caused problems all day long for Geno Smith. TCU has a little bit of inexperience up front and overall the talent to attack the TCU OL relentlessly.