#1 ... Two Saturdays ago, Texas Tech lost 66-59 at home to OU in a game in which QB Patrick Mahomes threw for 734 yards and ran for 85 (setting an FBS record for total offense with 819 yards).
1. Big win over Baylor last week, how was UT able to do it and is there anything you can point to that the Longhorns can build on, take to Lubbock?
CHIP BROWN: Offensively, this team is being carried by RB D'Onta Foreman, who ran 32 times for 250 yards (7.8 ypc) - his ninth straight game rushing for 100 yards or more (second only to Earl Campbell's school-record 11 straight games).
Foreman also went over 1,000 yards (1,105, 6.4ypc) for the season, becoming Texas' first 1000-yard rusher since Jamaal Charles in 2007 (which sort of lets you know where the talent level has been in terms of recruiting before Strong arrived).
Freshman quarterback Shane Buechele tends to rely D'Onta's twin brother, Armanti, in critical passing situations, such as the 38-yard catch Armanti made on UT's last-minute drive to the go-ahead FG with 46 seconds left in that 35-34 win over Baylor.
But Texas has struggled to move the ball out of its 18-Wheeler Package, which I've dubbed the 18-Flat-Tire Package, featuring backup QB Tyrone Swoopes.
Against Baylor, Texas went 0-for-5 on third-down conversions from the second quarter until early in the fourth quarter - getting outscored 20-3 in that span.
New offensive coordinator Sterlin Gilbert could do no wrong the first four games of the season, when UT was averaging 41 points per game. But Texas is only averaging 27.7 ppg over its last three (a 27-6 win over Iowa State, a 24-21 loss at K-State and a 35-34 win over BU) and defenses have figured out the 18-Flat-Tire Package.
Texas forced eight turnovers against OU (4), Iowa State (1) and Kansas State (3), and the offense could only convert them into a total of three points (1 FG vs OU).
Texas won the turnover battle 3-0 at K-State, and the offense couldn't convert them into a single point in a 3-point loss.
Based on Texas' up-and-down season, it's no surprise that early on, when the offense was soaring, the defense was giving up big play after big play. (The average length of the 26 TDs scored by opponents the first five games of the season was 23.8 yards per score).
Then, as the defense has improved, the offense has begun to bog down. So if there's one thing Texas may be starting to figure out, it's the confidence to make some plays in the secondary and force a turnover or two.
Through the first four games of the season, Texas had forced an FBS-worst one turnover (a fumble recovery vs UTEP). The last four games, the Texas D is averaging 2.5 turnovers gained per game. UT is +4 in turnovers in that stretch.
2. It's no secret coach Strong is on the hot seat. What does he need to do to keep his job? Is there a chance that if UT loses in Lubbock Strong's fired immediately after?
CHIP BROWN: He could really use a win Saturday in Lubbock - obviously. But most importantly, Strong needs to avoid the embarrassing loss.
I'm told nothing will happen in terms of a dismissal during the season. I think Strong has a chance to survive at 7-5 if there aren't any more embarrassing losses.
That's always been Strong's problems - the embarrassing losses. Strong is 15-18 in three seasons at Texas, and 10 of his losses have been by 18 points or more.
The loss that hurt Strong most this season was the 49-31 loss in Stillwater in which three extra points were blocked - with one being returned for two points.
Texas' big-money donors can handle hard-fought losses. They can not handle embarrassment. And that's when the Texas BMDs really started turning their attention to Tom Herman, who remains the top preference if Strong is let go.
But school president Greg Fenves and athletic director Mike Perrin know Strong got no support his first 20 months on the job from former AD Steve Patterson. So they are doing everything they can to support Strong and want him to succeed.
3. I'm a big Shane Buechele fan. What have you seen from him this season? What is your analysis of his game?
CHIP BROWN: It's funny - it was a conversation I had with Kliff Kingsbury at Big 12 Media Days that really got me thinking Shane Buechele might be able to help save Charlie Strong's job.
I said to Kliff: "You can't keep a quarterback on campus, and Texas can't find one."
And Kliff said: "They've got one now. I was the first one to offer Shane Buechele. The kid is smart, accurate, quick release, competitive. He's a good one."
I said: "There are concerns about his slight build."
Kliff said: "I coached Johnny Manziel and Case Keenum. He's plenty big enough."
Buechele is not only accurate, his deep ball is a thing of beauty. Only drawback right now is Buechele isn't a threat to run, and defenses don't respect him at all in the zone read game.
So, new offensive coordinator Sterlin Gilbert needs to change some things up, because the more defenses see this offense on film, the more success they're having slowing things down.
4. So Breckyn Hager popped off earlier in the week that UT's plan was to injure Mahomes. As you can imagine that got Lubbock and the football program all fired up. What's been the reaction to his comments in Austin and around the program?
CHIP BROWN: Breckyn being Breckyn. But the fact he and Charlie Strong had to issue apologies probably means Hager has talked to the media for the last time this season.
I talked to Hager's former high school coach Todd Dodge on the morning sports talk radio show I'm on Austin and Dodge probably said it best: "The great thing about Breckyn is he constantly lets you know by his actions and words how much he loves football. And sometimes Breckyn may let you know in a little too much detail how much he loves the game."
Hager has been trying to get his teammates to match his intensity. Maybe this was an attempt to do that. We'll see.
5. Does this game feel like it has more juice than in recent years?
CHIP BROWN: There's a lot at stake for Texas for sure, with Strong's job status the way it is, so - yes!