During the Matt Wells era, Keith Patterson's defenses were not bad. In fact, in many weeks, they were pretty good. In the weeks where they were not good, however, they were downright awful.

In 2021, the Red Raiders gave up 70 points to the Longhorns before going to Morgantown and holding West Virginia to 20 points in a victory. Texas was not 50 points better than the Mountaineers; Texas Tech's defense was just inconsistent.

In 2020, Texas Tech held Baylor to 23 points before giving up 50 to Oklahoma State. In 2019, the team gave up 37 points to Kansas before heading to West Virginia and holding them to 17.

The up-and-down nature of Patterson's defense has people on edge, thinking Texas Tech's new defensive coordinator Tim DeRuyter can make Texas Tech's defense a consistent threat to keep opposing teams out of the endzone.

DeRuyter took over a Cal program defensively that had given up 42 points per game in 2016 and brought them down to 28 points per game in 2017, but also had a stretch where they gave up 38, 3, and then 45 points to the opposition. That's not exactly consistent.

Here's the deal, though. Texas Tech's defense in 2021 didn't average 42 points per game. It averaged 30. That's close to year one of DeRuyter. So can we expect the defense to make a leap and replicate what Cal was able to do in DeRuyter's second year? In that season, the Cal defense gave up 20 points per game to the opposing team, and had a stretch of seven games to end the season not giving up more than 21 points.

In 2009, Texas A&M gave up 34 points per game. DeRuyter was hired and that total dropped to 22 points per game. The Aggies had a 6-game winning streak to end the season where they only gave up 30 points once and beat Nebraska scoring just 9 points on offense.

It's these streaks of defensive games that the Red Raiders have so desperately needed and something that DeRuyter can start against a good team this weekend in Raleigh, North Carolina.

Last week, Texas Tech gave up 13 offensive points in regulation and another 10 in overtime. The pick-six got Houston to their total of 30. Murray State scored 10 first-half points, then didn't score again in Texas Tech's 63-10 rout.

If Texas Tech's defense can double down on the regulation performance they had against Houston this week against 16th-ranked NC State, the Red Raiders will be in an incredible position to win the game. The veteran-laden Wolfpack defense, which is giving up 12 points per game in 2022 and yielded 19 points per game in 2021, isn't going to be easy to break, but Texas Tech quarterback Donovan Smith has shown an edge in close games during his time at Texas Tech.

Smith put Garibay in a position twice to either win or tie in 2021, and Garibay was 1 for 2. Last week's OT finish against Houston speaks to this clutch nature as well.

If the consistency of Texas Tech's defense is one key, the other key would be the Red Raiders' offensive line, which was dominated by the Houston Cougars last weekend. The NC State defense is solid, but not a prolific team at getting to the quarterback. They had 33 sacks last season, but have only gotten to the opposing QB once so far this season.

The Wolfpack is favored by 9 points over Texas Tech, which isn't a surprise. The game is sold out and a blackout game for NC State. There should be a great atmosphere at the game. The total is also fairly low, at 56 consensuses at the time of this article's publication.

I believe in the Texas Tech defense, but I'm not certain I believe in the Texas Tech offensive line at this point in the season. I'll take NC State to win, but Texas Tech to cover and the under to hit with a final score of 24-21 in favor of the Wolfpack.

I picked Texas Tech to win on the midweek episode of the Gamblin' Gauchos though, so maybe I'm just hedging my bets. We'll find out on Saturday at 6 p.m. on ESPN2 as the two teams kick-off.

Highlights: Texas Texas vs Houston (September 10th, 2022)

Our favorite pictures from the game, courtesy Paul Roberts Photography.

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Texas Tech Will Go 5-7 if the FPI is Correct

The ESPN FPI, or the Football Power Index, is a mathematical formula like they have in any other league. It claims to, "measure a team's true strength on net points scale; expected point margin vs average opponent on a neutral field." according to ESPN. The projected results are based on 20,000 simulations of the rest of the season using the FPI as a model. The preseason projections are incomplete because a large piece of the puzzle is results that have already happened, impacting the remaining schedule. So, based on half the puzzle, Texas Tech is projected to get wins in five of their games. These projections change daily once the season starts, but it's good to get a baseline on what is analytically expected of you heading into the season.



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