Expect plenty of fireworks in clash between Cowboys and Red Raiders
Lubbock, TX – Having recently achieved their highest BCS ranked Oklahoma State Cowboys put their perfect scoring Big 12 Conference affair.
Oklahoma State is 9-0 on the season, and the only undefeated team in conference as well at 6-0. The Cowboys, who have matched the best start in school history, have beat up on most opponents this year, but last week they were involved in a shootout with visiting Kansas State, prevailing 52-45. Including this matchup with Texas Tech, the Pokes have three games remaining in the regular season, the biggest of which will be the finale at home against bitter rival Oklahoma. The winner of that bout will likely win the Big 12 and earn the league's automatic bid to a BCS bowl game.
OSU head coach Mike Gundy, while pleased with the outcome against K-State, certainly doesn't want to play many games like that, "That's enough excitement for one night. It's a good win for our team. I shared with them [his players] in the locker room that you're going to have some games like that when you play in a league that has quality football teams that are very well coached and prepared. We knew going in it was going to be a battle."
Texas Tech is a game over .500 on the season (5-4), but two games under in Big 12 play (2-4). The Red Raiders have lost their last two bouts and four of their last five overall, the most recent of which being a 52-20 setback at Texas last weekend. Tech's biggest win of the year came at Oklahoma on October 22, 41-38, and coach Tommy Tuberville's club has games against Missouri and Baylor left after this tilt, needing a win in one of them to gain bowl eligibility.
Texas Tech owns a 21-14-3 lead in the all-time series with Oklahoma State, but the Cowboys have won the last two meetings, and three of the last four overall.
Oklahoma State averages a robust 50.1 ppg to rank second in the Football Bowl Subdivision, and the Cowboys boast some of the most talented offensive performers in the country. It all starts with QB Brandon Weeden, a 72.1 percent passer who has thrown for 3,212 yards, 26 TDs and only nine INTs. Last year's Biletnikoff Award winner, Justin Blackmon, has 84 catches for 1,039 yards and 12 TDs, while the run game has been handled admirably by Joseph Randle, who has amassed 915 yards and an eye-popping 18 scores thus far.
Overall, the Pokes generate 557.3 ypg of total offense, with the pass clearly being the better of the two modes of attack (387.6 ypg). In last week's wild win over Kansas State, Weeden threw for a school-record 502 yards and four TDs, and Blackmon finished with 13 grabs for 205 yards and two scores. Fellow receiver Tracy Moore had a career game himself, coming up with nine catches for 146 yards and a TD. Randle tallied 73 yards and scored a pair of rushing TDs, helping the Pokes total 575 yards and 26 first downs on the day. The one negative -- OSU turned the ball over four times.
The OSU defense has clearly taken a backseat to the offense, but that's not to say the unit doesn't have it share of talented players. In fact, safety Daytawion Lewis has logged 70 tackles through nine games, 16 more than his closest teammates -- Caleb Lavey and Alex Elkins. DE Jamie Blatnik has been credited with seven sacks to this point, while corners Brodrick Brown and Justin Gilbert have combined for seven of the team's 18 INTs. Add 13 fumble recoveries and the Cowboys have proven to be an opportunistic bunch with 31 turnovers.
K-State rolled up 507 yards last week against Oklahoma State, with 276 coming on the ground and 231 via the pass. The Wildcats scored four rushing TDs and claimed a near 30-minute advantage in the time of possession battle. Elkins was one of three Cowboy defenders to secure double-digit tackles in the game (13).
Texas Tech has been one of the most productive offensive teams in the country for the last decade or so, and this year's version of the Red Raiders is averaging 43.4 points and nearly 540 total yards per contest. The pass is the weapon of choice for coach Tuberville's team, as QB Seth Doege is hitting the mark on just about 70 percent of his tosses for 372.6 ypg. He has 22 TD passes against only four INTs, and both Eric Ward and Alex Torres have proven to be valuable commodities down field as evidenced by the fact that they have combined for 83 receptions, 905 yards and a dozen TDs. The Tech run game generates 155.6 ypg, with Eric Stephens logging more than 100 carries and averaging 114 ypg. Additionally, he has reached the end zone eight times, the team totaling 15 rushing scores on the year.
With the offense taking center stage, the Texas Tech defense gets lost in the shuffle most times. Foes are putting up just over 30 ppg against the Red Raiders, who have struggled against the run in particular (205.4 ypg, 13 TDs). D.J. Johnson and Cody Davis currently sit atop the team's tackles list, but they have just 43 and 41 total stops, respectively. Johnson also has a pair of INTs to this credit, but a glaring lack of big plays on the defensive side of the ball (nine sacks, 13 turnovers) has hurt Tech's chances of staving off defeat more than once this season.
Doege was on his game last week against Texas, completing 40-of-55 passes for 381 yards and two TDs, but the Red Raiders couldn't keep the Longhorn defense honest as they rushed for only 30 yards on 27 attempts (1.1 ypc). Ward and Torres hauled in a combined 14 balls for 150 yards and a score, while Adam James finished with five receptions for 95 yards.
Texas gashed the Red Raider defense for 439 rushing yards last week, scoring six TDs on the ground in what was a dominating performance by the Longhorns at the point of attack. Davis and Johnson tried their best to keep Tech competitive, combining for 21 tackles, but the defensive unit as a whole made just three TFL and failed to come up with a turnover.
Tuberville thought his team put forth the effort, but was just ineffective in doing the things needed to limit the big-play potential of the Texas offense. "Not a very good performance, obviously. The guys were ready to play, played with the right emotion, had good practices all week, the bottom line when it comes down to it, we just do not have enough to stop anybody that runs the ball. As I just told the players, we have got to find someway, some how to get ourselves off the field and make somebody punt. I have never been in a game where the other team never punted all day. They scored every possession and really only kicked one field goal."