Big Preview: Texas Tech Hosts No. 16 Oklahoma

Texas Tech hosts No. 16 Oklahoma 7 p.m. (CT) Saturday at Jones AT&T Stadium. Get all the details on the matchup below.

Who: Texas Tech (3-3, 1-2) vs. Oklahoma (4-2, 3-0)

Where: Jones AT&T Stadium, Lubbock, Texas

When: Saturday, October 22, 7:00 p.m. (CT) 

Media: Fox (TV), Texas Tech Radio Network (radio)

2015 Records: Texas Tech (7-6, 4-5), Oklahoma (11-2, 8-1)

Coaches: Texas Tech (Kliff Kingsbury 22-22), Oklahoma (Bob Stoops 183-48)

Series History: Oklahoma leads 17-6

Last Meeting: Oklahoma 63 Texas Tech 27, October 24, 2015)

When Oklahoma Has the Ball

If you want to have a great offensive football team, it really helps to have a great running back, a great quarterback, and a great receiver. Oklahoma will bring just such a trio to the Jones Stadium turf on Saturday night.

Running back Joe Mixon has rushed for a team-leading 476 yards on the season, and averages six yards per carry. He has a lethal combination of size, speed and vision, and were it not for backfield mate Samaje Perine, who will miss the Texas Tech game because of injury, Mixon might be in the Heisman conversation.

At quarterback OU has Texas Tech transfer Baker Mayfield. He presently enjoys the FBS’ No. 3 passer rating—three spots above Tech’s Pat Mahomes--and has developed into a dynamic field general for the Sooners. 

Mayfield’s favorite target is Dede Westbrook. The senior has brought down 43 passes for 728 yards, averages 16.9 yards per catch, and has tallied eight touchdowns. He vies with Tech’s Jonathan Giles and Oklahoma State’s James Washington for supremacy among Big 12 receivers. 

If that sounds like a lot to handle, it is. The Sooners are No. 16 nationally in scoring offense, No. 32 in yards rushed per carry, No. 12 in passing offense, and No. 11 in total offense. Texas Tech normally goes into games with a decisive edge on the offensive side of the ball, but that will not be the case against OU.

Texas Tech will counter with a defense that is ranked near the bottom nationally in most major statistical categories. And there is nothing one can point to as a genuine strength. 

The best players on that side of the ball are freshman linebacker Jordyn Brooks who leads the team in tackles, play-making safety Jah’Shawn Johnson, and superb cover corner Justis Nelson.

When Texas Tech Has the Ball

Not too long ago one could make a convincing argument that Texas Tech’s offense was the best in the nation. But after a second half struggle against Kansas State, and an anemic showing against West Virginia—both (coincidentally?) following a shoulder injury to quarterback Pat Mahomes—the offense actually looks pedestrian.

Even with a bum shoulder, however, Mahomes is better than the vast majority of FBS quarterbacks, but his accuracy and zip are not what they once were, and his decision-making, particularly in run/pass situations, is erratic. 

The running game—if you can call it that—is without life, in no small measure because Mahomes, arguably the team’s best runner, can no longer carry the mail the way he did before banging up the shoulder.

The receivers, led by the aforementioned Giles, are still excellent, but even their productivity has suffered because of the lack of a running game. 

What’s more, the offensive line has become a scarlet sieve, allowing rushers to breach the middle and slash off of the edges, rendering Mahomes’ life hazardous. And this situation will not be improved with starting right tackle Justin Murphy suspended for the first half of the Oklahoma game because of a targeting infraction. 

As luck would have it, the Sooners can bring the heat on defense. OU averages 2.5 sacks per game, which is No. 48 nationally. 

In other respects, however, Oklahoma’s defense is ordinary at best. The Sooners are No. 100 in scoring defense, No. 107 in pass defense, No. 111 in passing efficiency defense, and No. 74 in third down defense. 

Sooner defenders to watch are linebacker Ogbannia Okoronkwo and cornerback Jordan Thomas. Okoronkwo has 38 tackles, 7.5 tackles for loss, six sacks and four quarterback hurries. Thomas has broken up 11 passes and defended 11 others.

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