Kliff Kingsbury will try to stay perfect as a head coach as his 25th-ranked Texas Tech Raiders host the undefeated Texas State Bobcats for a Lone Star State showdown at Jones AT&T Stadium.
TTU will be facing Texas State for the third time and looking to stay undefeated against the Bobcats. The Red Raiders coasted to a 58-10 decision when these teams clashed last season.
Texas State had an extra week to prepare for its Big 12 foe as it had a bye after its 28-7 victory over Prairie View A&M in week two. The program is 2-0 for the first time since 2005 thanks to the win. Coach Dennis Franchione guided his squad to a 22-15 decision at Southern Miss in the season opener as well. The Bobcats are in their first campaign as a member of the Sun Belt Conference. They went 4-8 last season in their first season as an FBS program and only year in the Western Athletic Conference.
Senior QB Tyler Arndt will lead TSU's offense into Lubbock after passing for 258 yards on 27-of-39 efficiency in his first two games. Arndt saw some action against TTU last year and finished 5-of-9 for 37 yards off the bench. The passing attack that yields only 150 ypg to rank 110th out of 123 FBS programs does not have a standout receiver. Bradley Miller is the most productive player on the squad with 35.5 receiving yards and three catches per game.
The Bobcats punished Prairie View A&M with their rushing attack in week two as they amassed 242 yards and four touchdowns on 43 carries. Chris Nutall was unstoppable as he piled up 132 yards and two touchdowns on just eight attempts. The sophomore tailback was bottled up and held to only 37 yards on 10 rushes by USM in the opener.
Defensively, TSU has played well against inferior competition in its first two games. It did allow Golden Eagles QB Allan Bridgford to throw for a career- high 377 yards in week one, which could be a sign of bad things to come against the Red Raiders' elite aerial assault, which is ranked fifth in the FBS. Junior linebacker David Mayo is the leader of the Bobcats' defense with 14 tackles and two interceptions. Colorado State transfer Michael Orakpo has already forced three fumbles.
Since taking over at his alma mater, Kingsbury has led the Red Raiders to three consecutive wins over SMU (41-23), Stephen F. Austin (61-13) and TCU (20-10), despite entering the season without any quarterbacks with at least one career start. Baker Mayfield became the first walk-on true freshman to start a season opener at a BCS school in week one against the Mustangs.
Mayfield was sensational to start off his career, completing 85-of-130 attempts for 996 yards with eight touchdowns to eight interceptions. TTU has averaged 40.7 points and 509.3 yards of total offense through its first three games with its high-octane passing attack. Mayfield had a rough outing against TCU, going 21-of-40 for 216 yards with one TD to three interceptions before being knocked out with an injury late in the fourth quarter.
Fellow freshman QB Davis Webb stepped in and led the Red Raiders on a nine- play, 75-yard drive that ended with a 19-yard touchdown pass to Brad Marquez. With Mayfield questionable for this week, Webb may get his first career start after his impressive stint versus the Horned Frogs.
"(Webb) provided a big spark," said Marquez on the rookie passer's performance in his debut. "He was prepared for the situation and it's credit to his preparation to be able to come in there at that point in time in the game to be able to come in there and do the job that he did. You know, there was no falloff, and definitely a spark for all of us and for him to control the game for us."
Whichever passer is in the pocket for TTU they will be looking towards Jace Amaro, who leads the team with 20 receptions and 281 yards. Eric Ward, Jakeem Grant and Marquez all have double-digit catch totals and at least 153 yards receiving apiece.
While TTU has little trouble moving the ball through the air, it has seen very little success in its running game. It gained only 43 yards on 26 carries against TCU and still does not have a player with 100 rushing yards on the season.
The Red Raiders have been just as impressive on the defensive side of the ball under Kingsbury, allowing only 15.3 points and 415.7 yards of total offense per game. TCU could not get anything going against them last week as six of its first eight possessions ended with a punt and the other two concluded with an interception and turnover on downs.
"We put them in bad spots all night offensively," said Kingsbury. " They kept stepping up and turning them over and getting stops against a talented offense with a really talented quarterback. So couldn't be more proud of that side of the ball."
Tre' Porter and Micah Awe are the team's leading tacklers with 22 and 21 total stops each, respectively.