This game sets up as an instant classic. Kansas State and Texas Tech have played 14 games this season and have one loss between them. The Wildcats are in the nation's top five and the Red Raiders are in the top 15. Kansas State beat Tech a year ago, but the Red Raiders have a decided series edge and have enjoyed success in Manhattan. Tech may have gotten a "bad" game out of their system against TCU, while KSU may be due for an off performance. The Wildcat offense is straight out of the Ordovician Period while Tech's is avant garde. Put it all together and you've got a tense, suspenseful game on your hands. Stock up on Pepto Bismol, Maalox and Immodium AD.
When Texas Tech Has the Football: As the defenses have gotten better, Tech's ground game has dwindled. That's unlikely to change overmuch against a rugged KSU outfit. Neal Brown may attempt to establish the ground game early, but if he doesn't get results, he will quickly return to his preferred mode of operation, the pass. And it is there where the Red Raiders will make hay.
The Red Raiders are No. 4 in passing offense, and No. 8 in passing efficiency. Quarterback Seth Doege is on a roll, and new old hands Austin Zouzalik and Alex Torres, after another week of getting meaningful reps in practice, should be even more effective than they were last week against TCU.
The Wildcats, conversely, are a modest 39th in pass efficiency defense, and are No. 58 in long plays allowed. They don't generate a great deal of heat on quarterbacks either. Look for Eric Ward and Darrin Moore to have success on fades and go routes.
But it all comes down to who does what in the red zone. The Red Raiders are No. 10 in touchdown percentage in the red zone, while the Wildcats are No. 13 in preventing red zone touchdowns. It's a strength-on-strength matchup, and the winner here will likely win the game.
When Kansas State has the Football: For the second time in three weeks, the Tech defense will face a Heisman front-running quarterback. They shut Geno Smith down, but Collin Klein is a different kettle of fish. Unlike Smith, he can damage defenses as much with his legs as his arm. He is a multi-faceted quarterback and is therefore more difficult to stop.
With the Red Raider defense showing vulnerability against the run in the last two games, Art Kaufman will probably abandon the 4-2-5 alignment he has used recently in favor of a 4-3 look. But that won't help against the likes of Klein and running back John Hubert, who averages 5.8 yards per tote, unless the linebackers tackle much better than they have of late.
Regardless, Tech will essentially sell out against the run and trust corners Eugene Neboh and Bruce Jones to cover, primarily in man-to-man defense. Chances are good the Red Raiders will surrender at least one long ball, just as they did against TCU.
What Will Happen: There will be a quarterback duel as Klein seeks to cement his Heisman favorite status while Doege attempts to get his nose under the tent flap. Both quarterbacks will have their moments, but both defenses will be good enough to prevent them from going hog wild.
This game is a tossup in my book, but look for the Red Raiders to spring their second major Big 12 road upset in as many seasons.
Texas Tech 35
Kansas State 34