The 24th-ranked Texas A&M Aggies are in their last season as a Big 12 Conference member, and they are set for a road clash with the Texas Tech Red Raiders this weekend.
Texas A&M opened the season with back-to-back victories and appeared to be on its way to another win two weeks ago. The Aggies were crushing Oklahoma State through two quarters, but they fell apart in the second half and lost by one point. To the disgust of the A&M fans, the same thing happened last weekend, as a late collapse led to a 42-38 setback to Arkansas.
"Certainly a disappointing second half of football," said Texas A&M head coach Mike Sherman. "I thought we came out and played a solid first half. We made some mistakes on defense that I thought we were able to shore up at halftime. But again, pretty much the same plate as last week. Too little too late, and we came up short."
As for Texas Tech, it has quietly opened with four straights wins, including last weekend's 45-34 triumph over Kansas. That victory was particularly impressive when you consider the Jayhawks began the tilt with a 20-0 lead.
"It was great to get that first win on the road and it is a Big 12 win," said Tech head coach Tommy Tuberville after the triumph. "This kind of takes the pressure off our backs knowing we have a little momentum and we can come back home for a couple of weeks and give it our best shot."
Texas A&M owns a narrow 36-32-1 series lead over Texas Tech, which includes a 45-27 victory in last year's meeting.
After racking up 35 points in the first half against Arkansas last week, Texas A&M managed just three points the rest of the way. The Aggies lost the game despite tallying 30 first downs and 628 total yards.
"The stats don't matter," said quarterback Ryan Tannehill after the defeat. "The only thing that matters is the 'W' or the 'L,' and we didn't get it covered in the second half."
The loss spoiled a tremendous performance by tailback Christine Michael, who ran for 230 yards and three touchdowns on 32 carries. Unfortunately, the Aggies surrendered 28 first downs, 581 yards and five touchdowns in what was a tremendously disappointing affair.
Overall this season, A&M is generating 37.5 ppg and 518.5 total ypg. Tannehill has completed 68 percent of his passes for 1,139 yards and six touchdowns against five interceptions, while both Ryan Swope and Jeff Fuller are tied for the team lead with 26 catches. Michael has rushed for 408 yards and five touchdowns, and fellow tailback Cyrus Gray has 363 rushing yards and six scores to his credit.
Opponents are generating 23.2 ppg against Texas A&M, which is yielding 399.8 total ypg. The Aggies have done an outstanding job of stopping the run, limiting foes to 63.0 ypg at a low clip of 2.0 ypc. The pass defense hasn't been nearly as strong, however, as A&M is yielding 336.8 ypg through the air with only two interceptions in four outings.
There is no doubt that the Aggie defense will be tested by a Texas Tech club that averages 47.2 ppg and 525.0 total ypg, including 345.5 ypg through the air. The offense has already posted 26 touchdowns, and Seth Doege leads the way from his quarterback position with 14 scoring passes against only one interception. He has completed 73.3 percent of his attempts for 1,315 yards, and while Darrin Moore leads the wideouts with 21 catches and 339 yards, Eric Ward is tops with seven touchdowns. Moore is listed as questionable for this weekend's tilt with a knee injury. Pacing the ground attack is Eric Stephens with 468 yards and seven scores.
The Red Raiders are permitting 22.8 ppg to their opponents, who are gaining 427.0 total ypg. Considering the fact that Tech is yielding 5.0 yards per rushing attempt and 15.5 yards per pass completion, there is obviously room for improvement against both means of attack. D.J. Johnson paces the club with 26 total tackles, and he has a pair of interceptions as well.
Against Kansas last weekend, Tech posted 530 total yards and got a big performance from Doege, who threw for 366 yards and three touchdowns. Stephens added 124 yards and two touchdowns on the ground. Meanwhile, the defense allowed just two scores over the final three quarters after permitting a pair of touchdowns in the opening stanza.