LUBBOCK, Texas – Tommy Tuberville's Red Raiders face a dual threat Saturday when No. 20 Oklahoma State comes to West Texas, where the Cowboys are itching to break a losing streak that dates to 1944.
Undefeated OSU is second in the nation is scoring (52.6 point per game), has the country's fifth-leading rusher — Kendall Hunter's 140-yard per game average — and has a passing offense (362 yards per game) that's first in the Big 12 and second nationally.
"It is what gives you nightmares," Tuberville said. "They are very good on the offense line being able to shift from a passing game to being able to run the ball. Maybe the most balanced team we will see all year."
Oh, and Cowboys receiver Justin Blackmon leads the nation in receptions (9.4) and receiving yards (149.6) per game. He had 13 catches for 190 yards in his last game, against Louisiana-Lafayette.
"When the ball is in the air and No. 81 is running for it, I am ready to put my hands up for a touchdown," Cowboys defensive end Richetti Jones said of Blackmon. "Some of the stuff that he does is ridiculous,"
What could be ridiculous is the number of points scored on Saturday.
Texas Tech's Taylor Potts and the Cowboys' Brandon Weeden rank third (330 yards) and fourth (322 yards), respectively, in passing yards per game. And OSU (5-0, 1-0 Big 12) and Texas Tech (3-2, 1-2) both have porous defenses.
"It'll be one of those games where you won't have an opportunity to go to the restroom or get a drink or anything," Tuberville said. "It's going to be a lot of excitement, a lot of action, and hopefully we can hold our end of the bargain."
The matchup will be tough on a Texas Tech defense that is doing a little better against the rush than against the pass. The Red Raiders are giving up 126 yards a game on the ground and about 279 in the air.
Tuberville wants to see more turnovers forced by his team this week. The Red Raiders (3-2, 1-2) have eight interceptions and three fumble recoveries.
They got none the last two games.
"If we are a team that gets zero turnovers we are going to struggle," Tuberville said. "Hopefully we can get out of this rut and get a few turnovers like we did early in the season."
In a game like this, Cowboys coach Mike Gundy said, turnovers will be key.
"Whoever wins that battle will have a great chance to win the game," he said.
Texas Tech's offense found more rhythm last week in their 45-38 win over Baylor. Potts had his best game of the season, throwing for 462 yards and four touchdowns. At one stage, he completed 15 straight passes and nearly scored on a quarterback option after running 43 yards to the 1.
Gundy sees a fast Texas Tech offense and one in which Potts is improving every week. Red Raiders running backs Baron Batch and Eric Stephens are quick and must be contained, he said.
"Their quarterback is throwing the ball really well and they have two backs that run well and are physical," Gundy said.
Cowboys defenders will try to stop Red Raiders receivers from turning short passes into long gains.
"They are going to spread you out and throw a lot of screens all over the place," OSU defensive coordinator Bill Young said. "One of the issues we had with that kind of offense is that if you miss a tackle in open spaces they are gone."
Blackmon has heard how tough it is to play in Lubbock.
"From what I've heard, it's an intense place to play," he said. "The fans are right there on you and it's just a good environment for them to play in, but bad for the visiting team."