Who: Texas Tech (5-3, 2-3) versus Oklahoma State (7-0, 4-0)
Where: Jones Stadium, Lubbock, Texas
When: Saturday, October 31, 2:30 (CT)
Media: ESPN (TV), Texas Tech Sports Network (Radio)
Coaches: Texas Tech, Kliff Kingsbury (17-16); Oklahoma State, Mike Gundy (91-44)
Series: Texas Tech leads 21-18-3; most recent, 2014, Oklahoma State 45 Texas Tech 35
When Texas Tech Has the Ball
After a sizzling start to the season, the Red Raider Air Raid offense has stalled in its last two outings, netting only 30 points against Kansas and 27 against Oklahoma.
Following a four-interception afternoon against the Sooners, Tech quarterback Patrick Mahomes has slipped to No. 36 nationally in passing efficiency. And for an offense that relies so heavily on the pass, that is not good enough.
Ironically, the one true constant in Tech’s offense is the rushing attack, which is spearheaded by senior running back DeAndre Washington. He has 837 rushing yards on the season and averages 6.7 yards per carry. With a big day against Oklahoma State, Washington would crest the 1,000-yard plateau for the second straight season.
As a unit, Texas Tech still ranks among the nation’s leaders in scoring offense, passing offense, and total offense. What’s more, the Red Raiders are No. 2 nationally in third-down conversion percentage at 54.5 percent. On the other hand, Tech is No. 75 in red zone touchdown conversion percentage.
The Oklahoma State defense’s claim to fame is rushing the passer. The Cowboys lead the nation in that category averaging four quarterback traps per contest.
"With those ends, I think they're trying to create matchups with those guys one-on-one, and that's smart,” said Kliff Kingsbury after practice Tuesday. “They've had success with it. They stand 'em up on 3rd-and-long and bring it. And it's obviously worked cause they have lots of sacks."
“Those ends” are defensive ends Emmanuel Ogbah and Jimmy Bean (pictured below), and they lead the charge in this area, so the hope is that Red Raider tackles Le'Raven Clark and Baylen Brown will be fully up to speed following injuries, and that Mahomes rediscovers his knack for sensing the rush, avoiding it, and striking for explosive plays.
Oklahoma State is No. 22 nationally in scoring defense, allowing only 18.9 points per outing. They are also No. 21 in rushing yards per carry allowed, No. 19 in passing efficiency defense, and No. 21 in total defense. All in all, this is one of the better defenses Tech will face this season.
When Oklahoma State Has the Ball
With due allowances for playing against ultra-potent attacks such as TCU’s, Baylor’s, and Oklahoma’s, at this point the Red Raider defense is in the bottom quarter of just about every measure of effectiveness excepting turnover creation, where the Red Raiders continue to do well. In terms of total defense, Tech is now ranked No. 127, one spot ahead of cellar-dweller Kansas.
Among other things, this means that the playbook is wide open for Oklahoma State. Regardless of any concerns Mike Gundy may have about his offense, he will still enter the game believing he has matchup advantages across the board.
One area where the Cowboy offense has indeed done poorly is running the football. OSU is now No. 97 in rushing offense and No. 102 in rushing yards per carry. JUCO transfer Chris Carson has not been the savior he was expected to be. But beware! Oklahoma entered the game with Texas Tech nursing an anemic ground game and all the Sooners did was run for 405 yards against the Red Raiders. Gundy and his Cowboys will certainly test these waters.
But it is the passing game that is OSU’s meat and mead. Quarterback Mason Rudolph (pictured above) is putting together an exceptional year averaging 314 passing yards per game. David Glidden, who averages 78 receiving yards per game and 16.1 yards per catch is Rudolph’s favorite target, although Marcel Ateman is also frequently in his sights.
The Pick: Oklahoma State 44, Texas Tech 39