The third-ranked Oklahoma Sooners continue their quest for yet another Big 12 title, as they put the nation's longest home winning streak on the line when they welcome the Texas Tech Red Raiders to Norman this weekend for conference play.
Bob Stoops' Sooners have won 39 consecutive games at Memorial Stadium, a streak that began on September 1, 2005. Oklahoma opened 2011 as the top team in the land, but has fallen to third despite running the table thus far. OU is one of just 10 unbeatens in the FBS ranks, moving to 6-0 overall and 3-0 in Big 12 play with last weekend's 47-17 rout of Kansas on the road.
Tommy Tuberville's Red Raiders are playing their third straight ranked opponent and come into this game off back-to-back losses to Texas (45-40) and Kansas State (41-34). Last weekend's loss to the Wildcats dropped Texas Tech to 4-2 overall and 1-2 in-conference.
This game is the 19th meeting in a series that began in 1992. The Sooners hold a 13-5 series advantage. This is the second straight season that Tech has traveled to Norman. The Sooners won last year's contest at Memorial Stadium, 45-7.
Texas Tech utilizes a strong passing attack to fuel the offense and last week was certainly more evidence of that. Quarterback Seth Doege completed 43-of-63 passes, for 461 yards and one TD, but had three of his four turnovers on consecutive fourth-quarter possessions, negating any chance of a Tech win.
Offensive production has not been a problem in Lubbock this season, with Tech ranking in the top-10 in scoring (43.8 ppg), passing (372.3 ypg) and total offense (533.8 ypg).
Coming into last weekend, Doege had been extremely careful with the ball, with just one interception. On the year, Doege's numbers are still impressive, completing 70.7 percent of his throws, for 2,167 yards, with 18 TDs against four INTs.
There are a number of quality receivers for Doege to go to downfield, led by Eric Ward (38 receptions, 352 yards and eight TDs), Alex Torres (35 receptions, 381 yards, one TD) and Darrin Moore (21 receptions, 339 yards, four TDs).
The Tech ground game was chugging along with tailback Eric Stephens averaging 114.0 yards per game on 5.2 yards per carry, but he was injured in the Texas A&M game and did not play against the Wildcats.
Defensively, the Red Raiders have struggled, especially against the run. Opponents are averaging 219.0 yards per game rushing, on a generous 4.7 yards per carry. In all, Texas Tech is yielding 29.5 ppg and 406.7 yards of total offense.
The pass rush has struggled in terms of consistent pressure with only nine sacks on the season. The secondary leads the charge as D.J. Johnson paces the defense in tackles (38) and interceptions (2). Fellow DB Cody Davis is a close second in tackles with 37.
Not many teams have the offensive firepower to match Texas Tech, but Oklahoma surely does. The Sooners rely heavily on All-Americans Landry Jones and Ryan Broyles. Jones, a serious Heisman candidate is coming off a 363-yard, three TD performance against Kansas. Broyles hauled in 12 balls, for 217 yards and two scores, and is now the NCAA all-time leader in receptions (326).
Stoops was certainly elated with Broyles' performance against the Jayhawks.
"Ryan Broyles with a record-setting performance 217 receiving yards, 301 all- purpose yards on the night with 84 punt return yards, set the national record with 326 career receptions and sets a Big 12 touchdown record with 44 touchdown receptions. He broke both of those records on the one long ball down our sideline for the touchdown so we are really proud of Ryan. We recognize what an exceptional player he continues to be and we are proud of the way he continues to play."
It has been much the same on the season overall, as OU is averaging 45.3 ppg, 373.5 yards passing and 547.2 yards of total offense. Jones has been sharp under center, completing 67.6 percent of his passes, for 2,177 yards and 16 TDs. Broyles already has 60 receptions in the first six games, amassing 815 yards and nine TDs.
Other playmakers of note include WR Kenny Stills (27 catches, 330 yards, five TDs) and RB Dominique Whaley (627 yards, nine TDs), who is coming off a 165- yard performance against the Jayhawks.
With the kind of offensive numbers Oklahoma puts up on a weekly basis, the defense doesn't have to be outstanding. However, the Sooners have been strong on that side of the ball as well. The team is yielding just 15.8 ppg and a mere 317.2 yards of total offense.
Linebackers Travis Lewis and Ronnell Lewis lead the way. A former All- American, Travis Lewis paces the squad with 40 tackles. Ronnell Lewis is a close second (37 tackles), with 7.0 TFLs and 3.5 sacks. Defensive end Frank Alexander (30 tackles), leads the unit in TFLs (9.5) and sacks (6.5). Defensive backs Javon Harris (33 tackles, two INTs) and Tony Jefferson (33 tackles, two sacks, four INTs) have made a number of plays in the secondary.
Tuberville is aware of the task at hand.
"We played this team last year, and we saw how athletic they were, how versatile they were in running and throwing and playing defense, the speed that they have on the team. They're an all-around team. They're good. They're well-coached. They've got a lot of tradition. They've lost a small percentage, a very small percentage of games in their home stadium. I don't think they've lost any at night in the last 10, 12 years.