Photo By Steven Chapman

Game Preview: Texas Tech vs. Kansas

Texas Tech takes on Big 12 foe Kansas 11 a.m. Saturday at Memorial Stadium in Lawrence (Kan.). points out the key players and matchups to watch for.

Who: Texas Tech (4-2, 1-2) vs. Kansas (0-5, 0-2)

Where: Lawrence, Kansas, Memorial Stadium

When: October 17, 11:00 (CT)

Media: Fox Sports 1 (TV), Texas Tech Sports Network (Radio)

Coaches: Texas Tech, Kliff Kingsbury (16-15); Kansas, David Beaty (0-5)

Series History: Tech leads 15-1, most recent: 2014, Texas Tech 34 Kansas 21

When Tech Has the Ball

After Texas Tech’s 66-point, 776-yard outburst against Iowa State, the Red Raider offense is once again riding high in numerous national statistical categories. Tech’s 53 points per game trails only Baylor. The Red Raiders are No. 6 in rushing yards per carry, No. 1 in passing yardage with 439 per game, No. 2 in total offense at 632 yards per outing, No. 1 in third down conversions, No. 10 in red zone touchdown percentage, No. 1 in long passing plays, and No. 3 in sacks allowed. 

In short, Texas Tech’s offense is basically just about as good as there is in college football. 

With what do the Kansas Jayhawks confront this whirling typhoon filled with meat cleavers?

Not much.

The Jayhawks are No. 124 nationally in scoring defense, No. 121 in rushing defense, No. 124 in pass defense efficiency, No. 124 in total defense, No. 103 in sacks, dead last in tackles for loss, and No. 118 in third down conversion defense. The lone bright spot on this side of the ball is fumbles recovered, where Kansas ranks No. 24 in the nation.

If on paper this appears to shape up as a perfect storm for the Red Raider offense, it’s because it does. Even when one scans the data for individual success stories on the Kansas defense, the results are meager. Safety Fish Smithson—who butts heads with OU’s Samaje Perine for worst name in the Big 12--leads KU in tackles with 45, but has made few if any game-changing plays. Defensive end Ben Goodman is having a decent season with 23 tackles and 3.5 sacks, but you can bet he will find the sledding tough against Tech’s excellent pass protection unit.

Photo By Steven Chapman

Presumably then the Red Raiders shouldn’t need to pull out their exotic stuff to amass a winning point total. Instead, this could be a glorified scrimmage where Tech works on plays and aspects of the offense that need repetition and polishing. Kliff Kingsbury and his staff certainly won’t enter the game with that mindset, but if, as seems likely, the Red Raiders have blown it open in the second quarter, the rest of the game will become a learning experience and an opportunity for younger players to garner (relatively) meaningful snaps. 

When Kansas Has the Ball

Based upon Kansas’ offensive numbers alone, hopes on that side of the ball wouldn’t appear to be much brighter. Thus the Jayhawks are No. 119 in scoring offense, No. 120 in rushing yards per carry, and No. 108 in passing efficiency. KU is somewhat better by various other statistical measures, but nothing that would frighten a normal defense. Problem is—at least from Tech’s standpoint—the Red Raider defense is not normal; to be perfectly honest, it is abnormally bad. 

The numbers tell the woeful tale. Tech is No. 120 in sacks, No. 118 in scoring defense, No. 126 in rushing defense, No. 111 in pass defense, No. 125 in total defense, No. 124 in third down conversion defense, and No. 111 in red zone touchdown percentage defense. 

There is one saving grace and one caveat.

The former is turnover creation. The Red Raiders rank No. 27 in interceptions, and No. 24 in fumbles recovered. However, Kansas is a semi-respectable No. 64 in fumbles lost and a rather impressive No. 22 in interceptions thrown, so forcing the Jayhawks to cough it up may be easier said than done.

The latter is the quality of the opposition. Tech has faced Baylor, which may very well possess the nation’s best offense, and TCU, which is in the same conversation with Baylor. Playing the Bears and the Frogs will put a huge dent in any defense’s statistical profile. 

That said, the Red Raider defense found it impossible to stop UTEP’s Aaron Jones and Iowa State’s Mike Warren. And Kansas’ Ke’aun Kinner, who averages 4.8 yards per carry, is good enough to cross the 200-yard barrier against Tech if the Red Raider rush defense doesn’t improve over its performance against Iowa State.

Kansas freshman Ryan Willis will start his second game behind center in Saturday’s game against Texas Tech, after completing 20 of 36 passes for 158 yards with a touchdown and an interception in a 66-7 loss to Baylor last week.

Tre’ Parmalee and Tyler Patrick each have 15 pass receptions, with Parmalee averaging 16.1 yards per catch as well.  

But if KU offensive coordinator Rob Likens has a lick of sense, Cozart won’t drop back to pass very often, unless it’s for a quarterback draw. Kansas’ only hope for keeping this game reasonably close is to crease Tech with the ground game, reduce the contest to super slow motion, and win the turnover battle by at least three.

The Pick: Texas Tech 67 Kansas 21

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