Who: Texas Tech (3-2, 0-2) vs. Iowa State (2-2, 1-0)
Where: Lubbock, Texas, Jones AT&T Stadium
When: Saturday, October 10, 2:30 (CT)
Media: Fox Sports Net (TV), Texas Tech Sports Network (Radio)
Coaches: Kliff Kingsbury, Texas Tech (15-15); Paul Rhoads, Iowa State (31-48)
Series History: Texas Tech leads 10-3, most recent: Texas Tech 34-31 in 2014
When Texas Tech Has the Ball
Iowa State’s defense is certainly competent. The fact that after four games played the Cyclones are No. 38 nationally in scoring defense, allowing just 20 points per game, attests to that fact.
And what ISU does best on defense is rush the passer. The ‘Clones are No. 16 in total sacks and No. 10 in sacks per game. Defensive lineman Dale Pierson, who has six sacks already, is the nation’s seventh leading sacker. A Texas Tech offensive line that has thus far allowed only one sack, but will be without starting right guard Justin Murphy, will get perhaps its stiffest challenge of the season to this point in terms of protecting the passer.
After Tuesday’s practice Kliff Kingsbury spoke about Iowa State’s defense and what has made it a better unit than its immediate predecessor.
“This year they’re really mixing up their looks. I think they went from a four-down base to kind of a three-down with two guys standing up, one’ll come, one’ll drop, and they’re really changing it up well. So impressed to see how well they’ve evolved to their personnel, and they’re doing a good job.”
Clearly, recognizing what the Cyclones are doing will be a key factor in Tech being able to nullify the potent pass rush.
So will Tech’s ability to rush the football. The Red Raiders gashed every defense they played with DeAndre Washington and the ground game, until they met the Baylor Bears who stonewalled Washington and his fellow ball-carriers. And this is why Tech scored “only” 35 points against Baylor instead of, say, 55. If the Red Raiders can return to their running ways against an ISU stop unit that is middling against the run, Tech’s point total will once again climb into the clouds.
When Iowa State Has the Ball
Most Tech football fans remember all too well an October night in 2011 when Iowa State came into Lubbock with a freshman quarterback and laid the wood to the No. 19 Red Raiders, rushing for 368 yards en route to a shocking 41-7 victory.
The Cyclones probably do not have the tools to repeat that performance, but that doesn’t mean they won’t try. ISU is only No. 99 nationally in rushing yards per game, but freshman running back Mike Warren does have 329 rushing yards and averages a worrisome 6.9 yards per carry.
A Red Raider defense that was completely bulldozed by Baylor’s ground game had better strap on their hard-hats because the Cyclones almost certainly will come straight at Tech with a heavy dose of Warren (pictured below).
That said, Iowa State is just effective—and experienced—enough in the passing game to prevent Tech from showing heavy boxes play after play. Senior signal caller Sam Richardson has completed 92 of 143 passes for 1,018 yards with seven touchdowns and three interceptions.
Rangie receiver Allen Lazard is Richardson’s favorite target. He has pulled in 21 passes for 225 yards and a couple of touchdowns. The Cyclone receivers will not frighten defenses the way TCU and Baylor’s do, but they are capable of making touch catches, moving the chains, and commanding just enough respect to open up space for Warren and the ground game.
After the demolition job by Baylor last week, there is literally nothing the Tech defense can hang its hat on. At this point it is equally vulnerable to the pass and the run. The only real bright spot has been the play of freshman linebacker Dakota Allen whose 47 tackles ranks him No. 19 nationally in that category. His teammates on defense need to follow his lead.
The Pick: Texas Tech 57, Iowa State 29