Shape of the Game: Kansas

The battle between Texas Tech and Kansas is one of those games where strength will be pitted against weakness regardless of which team is on offense.

Key Kansas Stats
Scoring Offense19 ppg104
Passing Offense186 ypg103
Punt Returns18.8 ypr11
Scoring Defense16 ppg20
Rushing Defense188 ypg91
Def. Passing Efficiency9311
Fumbles Lost14
Defensive Red Zone TD Percentage50%22

The battle between Texas Tech and Kansas is one of those games where strength will be pitted against weakness regardless of which team is on offense.

The Red Raider defense, the team's heart to this point, will go up against a Kansas offense that has shown little so far in 2013. Likewise, when the staunch Jayhawks defense is on the field, they will see a Tech offense that has sputtered in its last two outings and is looking for direction. Obviously, therefore, this looks like a low-scoring affair.

On paper it would seem that KU's offense has little hope of seriously hurting the Red Raider defense. The Jayhawks, with James Sims toting the rock, have an acceptable ground game, but then Tech has been stout against the run. This looks like a wash at best for Charlie Weis' boys, but Weis is the sort of coach who believes in doing what his team does best, which means that Kansas will keep plugging away with the run until matters turn desperate. The Red Raiders, therefore, had best be prepared to stop KU's power ground attack, and keep stopping it.

If and when the Jayhawks find they must score points quickly to get back in the game, they will be in trouble. Kansas' passing attack is one of the worst in the land. Jake Heaps has not been a savior, and he has no real go-to receiver.

Look for Tech to constrict the ground game early and then drop and cover effectively when the Red Raiders get up by more than a couple of touchdowns.

But for Tech to gain that advantage the Red Raiders will have to put up some points and that will not be easy. KU is No. 20 nationally in scoring defense and is No. 22 in preventing touchdowns once teams penetrate the red zone. And unfortunately for Tech, the Red Raiders have been poor indeed at converting red zone opportunities into touchdowns. It could be another busy day for field goal kicker Ryan Bustin.

Interestingly, the Jayhawk defense has been far more vulnerable against the run than the pass. Kansas is only No. 91 in rush defense, but is No. 11 in pass efficiency defense.

Unfortunately for the Red Raider offense, Tech's ground game has been pitiful so far on the season. However, this game could be an opportunity for the Red Raiders to finally get the ground attack going. I would expect Kliff Kingsbury to lean more heavily on his backs than he has, and to go to the pass once the running game has softened up KU's defense somewhat. And if the ground game actually has some punch, this could improve Tech's performance in the red zone.

Still, it will be a hard slog for the Tech offense. Kansas' secondary is talented, and they will likely capitalize on a few freshman mistakes by the Red Raider quarterbacks.

Both teams have weapons on special teams. Kansas return man Connor Embree averages 18.8 yards per punt return, and will get some opportunities against Tech. A couple of big returns by Embree would make a world of difference for Kansas' offense. Likewise, the Red Raiders have been excellent with their kickoff return game and Tech will need to continue this performance in Lawrence.

When the dust clears Tech should win a low-scoring game by about 17 points. Tech's offense is stuttering, but Kansas' is practically mute. The Jayhawk defense is impressive, but the Red Raider stop unit is even more so. In short, Tech is simply the better team right now.

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