Expect the Unexpected Saturday

Texas Tech (3-6, 1-5 in Big 12) hosts Oklahoma (6-3, 3-3) at 2:30 p.m. Saturday at Jones AT&T Stadium.

KEY OKLAHOMA STATS
CATEGORYSTATNAT'L RANK
POINTS PER GAME38.4No. 15
RUSH YARDS PER CARRY5.67No. 14
RZ TD CONVERSION %72.09No. 16
TOTAL YARDS PER GAME475.1No. 28
YARDS ALLOWED PER RUSH3.31No. 17
PASSING YARDS ALLOWED PER GAME280.2No. 113
SACKS ALLOWED THIS SEASON6No. 4


The huge number of variables surrounding Texas Tech’s battle with Oklahoma means that almost anything could happen. For instance, how will the Sooners respond to redshirt freshman Cody Thomas taking over for Trevor Knight at quarterback? Who will be available to play quarterback for the Red Raiders and how effective will he be? How will OU react after their humiliation by Baylor in Norman and the proverbial firestorm of criticism that has enveloped the proud program? Will the bye week benefit a Tech team that is banged up and in a death spiral? Will either team even care now that the vast majority of their preseason goals lay in smithereens?

As one can see, most of those variables are of the psychological-intangible type, and it is almost impossible to predict which way they will swing. That being the case, we will stick to the more concrete facets.

To begin with, Oklahoma’s shaky quarterback situation, and Texas Tech’s seemingly decades-long inability to stop even lukewarm running games suggests that the Red Raiders had better gear up for a heavy dose of freshman thunderbolts Samaje Perine and Alex Ross. Perine has 788 rushing yards and 11 touchdowns so far on the season, and is just the sort of battering ram that will wear down defenses and test their depth. Ross is a quick and speedy homerun threat who averages 7.7 yards per carry and is playing better the more snaps he gets. Given that the Red Raiders are currently No. 122 in the nation at stopping the run, Tech will obviously tested all day long by OU’s freshmen.

On the other side of the ball, the Red Raiders have disappointed the entire season, largely because of mistake-prone quarterbacks and a receiving corps that has fallen dramatically short of advanced billing. Still, there is obvious talent sprinkled throughout this offensive unit and there remains the possibility that it will finally come together. If that happens, this game will be very competitive.

The suspicion is that Davis Webb and his bum ankle will take the field against the Sooners. If not, Patrick Mahomes, who appeared to suffer a head injury against Texas, could get the call. And if he’s not ready, walk-on freshman Vincent Testaverde will roll with the ones.

Whoever starts will be fortunate in that the Sooners have been rather poor against the pass for most of the season. Zack Sanchez is a superlative talent at one cornerback position, but there are holes to exploit elsewhere. Furthermore, OU’s defensive line has underperformed as badly as Tech’s receivers, which means that MaWebbAverde should have ample time to throw the football.

But passing is not Tech’s strength; running the football is. Unfortunately for the Red Raiders, however, Oklahoma has done a good job of stopping the run, allowing only 3.31 yards per carry. And given that Tech is easily deterred from running the football, even when they do it successfully, we can expect the Red Raiders to yet again lean on their wildly erratic passing game, which is good news for the visitors.

Lest we forget, however, there is yet another intangible variable to throw into the pot: it is Texas Tech’s Senior Day. And the Red Raiders have won three out of the last four games against Oklahoma played in Lubbock. As chaotic as this game looks going in, I wouldn’t be entirely shocked if Tech makes it four out of five.



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