Game Preview: Oklahoma State Vs Texas Tech
Who: The Oklahoma State Cowboys and The Texas Tech Red Raiders
Where: Jones AT&T Stadium, Lubbock, Texas.
How to watch: FOX
When: Saturday, September 30, 7 p.m.
Broadcaster Team: Gus Johnson, Joel Klatt and Jenny Taft.
What pregame show to listen to: 1340 The Fan's Countdown to Kickoff, 4 to 6 p.m. on Saturday, September 30.
2008 was significant for Texas Tech football. It was Mike Leach's best year. He had finally constructed a roster perfect for his scheme, and his defense was loaded with talent and had a great coach in charge of them and it almost all came together. They beat Texas and then beat Oklahoma State before losing to Oklahoma, which ended their National Championship hopes and killed the momentum that season.
It also was the last time Texas Tech beat Oklahoma State. The combined score since 2009, when the pokes' winning streak started, is 395-227 in Oklahoma States favor. The worst loss for the Red Raiders in the stretch was a 66-6 loss in Lubbock in 2011. Last year in Stillwater was the best game the Red Raiders have put together against Oklahoma State since 2009. The game was on the edge of being tied with 1:44 left before a Clayton Hatfield missed field goal all but sealed it for the Cowboys. They won, 45-44.
If you want to simplify it, blowing the end of the Oklahoma State game is the reason Texas Tech didn't make a bowl game last season.
This year, Oklahoma State isn't just another game; it's a stop on the Kliff Kingsbury Red Raider Redemption tour. The Red Raiders, as a team, know they haven't lived up to expectations in nearly a decade, and the results against OSU in that time span are indicative of that. They must slay the beast to move forward.
Not only does Oklahoma State own Texas Tech on the field, they try to own them off the field as well. They say, "pistols firing." They have a horse and "Spirit Rider." Those two things can be seen clearly here:
The Red Raiders are due for a win. In fact, the Red Raiders need a win to keep a lead in the all-time series, which stands at 21-20-3 in Texas Tech's favor.
Does any of that really matter for Saturday? No, but it all adds up to what should be a ridiculous atmosphere on Saturday night, which not only includes a night game at The Jones, but a Blackout as well.
The offense has been mostly good through three games. Even in the Houston game they won in the second half on the back of three huge plays. Quarterback Nic Shimonek never lost heart and kept the offense playing hard, even through a game where they didn't meet the expectations at Texas Tech. The thing is though, there are 100 other programs who would kill to get the offensive output the Red Raiders had on Saturday.
That offensive output won't beat Oklahoma State, though.
Something the Red Raiders did well on Saturday against Houston was committing to the run even while it wasn't successful early. If you stick with it, you can catch the defense with five in the box -- like this play that went for 73 yards. True freshman RG Jack Anderson makes the pivotal seal block springing Trey King for the big gain.
The beauty of this is that you can also spring big plays on the ground like this against Oklahoma State. While the Pokes don't live in the 4-2-5, they are there most of the game, which means Texas Tech will have the opportunity to run the ball against a six-man front most of the game.
The Oklahoma State linebackers aren't elite, so they will struggle to contain the running attack of Texas Tech if Kliff Kingsbury gives the offensive line and running backs the opportunities. Granted, opportunity doesn't guarantee production, but with Texas Tech's offensive line improving every week and the running back situation materializing, the running game can provide the same burst this week as the passing attack.
The Oklahoma State pass defense is better than the rush defense. They're only giving up 209 yards per game in the air. Bold prediction of the week? Texas Tech goes above the average. (That's bold, right? No? It's not? It's actually the least bold thing I've said so far this week.) The offenses that Oklahoma State has faced are all averaging less than 200 yards passing per game -- except for TCU, which is quarterbacked by Kenny Hill and he only put up 229 yards against the Pokes.
If you want a player to watch for, arguably the best defender for the OSU Cowboys is Safety Tre Flowers. In the front six, defensive tackle DeQuinton Osborne is fairly dynamic.
The Texas Tech defense is the true wild card of this match up. Are they good? Are they dominant? Are they the same old defense as last year? We don't really know yet.
What we've seen through three games is a MUCH improved rush defense and a pass defense that was susceptible against the best quarterback the Red Raiders have played. The rush defense sits at third in the conference with 117 yards per game allowed, and that's against much better competition than most of the Big 12 plays in the pre-conference slate.
That leads me to a place of hopefulness that Texas Tech can limit Big 12 Teams to under 200 yards rushing this season. I think it starts this week with Oklahoma struggling to get to their season average of 175. Partly because the above-average linebacker play, and partly because Oklahoma State will try to pass all night.
Here's two sentences that are scary as hell when said together. The Texas Tech secondary, while improved, is the weakness of this defense. Oklahoma State has a really good quarterback and perhaps the best receiving corps in the Big 12.
If Texas Tech can limit the big plays, and keep James Washington and Jalen McCleskey in front of them, I think they can be successful. That's the biggest IF of the season, though.
The most important thing the defense can do this week is to continue forcing turnovers. The Red Raiders have been among the best in the nation at it so far, and that must continue if you want a chance at 5-0 next week against Kansas.
Defensive Injury Report Sidenote:
Jordyn Brooks was injured in the Houston game and did not practice Tuesday. The mildly good news is that Coach Kingsbury said, "Hopefully he can go on Saturday. He's a guy we feel like with limited practice can still be effective for us." So, even if he does not practice there is a chance Brooks plays on Saturday. True freshman Rico Jeffers will play more and Christian Taylor is behind Brooks in the official 2-deep.
Vaughnte Dorsey, who was also injured last week, is day-to-day so far. If he can't go, expect Kisean Allen to get the majority of the snaps on the back end of the defense.
Make the field goals and PATs. Please.
The more I look at the Oklahoma State defense, the less impressed I am by it. The offense had the opportunity to be 'incredible,' but now it's just 'very good' with a depleted offensive line. Oklahoma State will need to prove this week that they aren't just another overrated preseason team in a long line of overrated preseason teams.
I was accused of being a homer last week when I picked Texas Tech to beat Houston, but I don't care.
Oklahoma State is not as good as everyone thought before the season started. Texas Tech is better than everyone thought before the season started. To me, that adds up to Texas Tech definitely covering the spread that opened at -13.5 for Oklahoma State and probably beating the Oklahoma State Cowboys.
This game will ultimately come down to who makes the most big plays. James Washington or Keke Coutee. Justice Hill or Justin Stockton. Tre Flowers or Tony Jones.
The O/U is set at 81 in the game. I generally take the OVER, but I think there will be too much emotion early and it will take a while for everyone to settle down.
Texas Tech wins a close one, 42-38. Pistols Firing! Wait, I mean, Guns Up.