Lubbock, TX – The 25th-ranked Texas Tech Red Raider will play their final home game of the 2012 season on Saturday when they host the Kansas Jayhawks in Big 12 Conference action.
Kansas has been the doormat of the Big 12 in Charlie Weis's first season. After winning its opener against FCS foe South Dakota State (31-17), the Jayhawks have dropped eight consecutive games. They were most recently blown out by Baylor on the road, 41-14, giving them 18 consecutive losses to conference opponents dating back to 2010.
The Red Raiders got off to a fantastic start by winning their first four games and six of their first seven, with signature victories over West Virginia (49-14) and on the road against TCU (56-53). Since then however, Texas Tech has dropped a pair of difficult road tilts versus nationally-ranked foes Kansas State (55-24) and Texas (31-22).
"A lot of disappointment, obviously," head coach Tommy Tuberville said following the Texas loss. "(We) made too many mistakes against a good football team. The last two weeks we've done that, so hopefully we can correct that...Hopefully we can play better the next three games and get into a good bowl game. It's just hard to play so well at times then play so poorly at times."
Despite the two-game losing skid, Texas Tech is bowl eligible for the 19th time in the last 20 seasons.
Texas Tech has a commanding advantage against Kansas in the all-time series, winning 12 of 13 previous matchups, including five straight.
Even in the high-flying Big 12, the Jayhawks offense has been stuck in neutral all season long, averaging fewer than 17 ppg.
One of the few bright spots on this team is running back James Sims (748 yards, six TDs), who despite missing three games has rushed for the third- most yards in the conference. With 126 yards last week, he became the first Kansas player to gain more than 100 yards in five straight games since Laverne Smith back in 1974.
"I give all the credit to the offensive line," Sims said following the record- tying game against Baylor. "They did an amazing job up front and won the line of scrimmage."
An effective running game has not taken any pressure off the quarterbacks. Dayne Crist has started six games under center for Kansas, but he has been largely ineffective in completing fewer than half of his passes attempts while throwing just three touchdowns against seven interceptions. Freshman Michael Cummings has been seeing more snaps in recent weeks, but he too has struggled (.460 completion percentage, 318 yards, TD, four INTs).
The poor play from the quarterbacks means that the receiving production has been down as well. Kale Pick leads the team in catches (22) and yards (341), but he's yet to find the end zone.
While the offense certainly hasn't done Kansas any favors, the defense has been disappointing as well, allowing 31.3 ppg and 446.2 ypg. It is one of the worst unit in the country at getting after the quarterback as it has just eight sacks through nine games.
Ben Henney is one of the league's leading tacklers with 82 stops. Bradley McDougald, Greg Brown, Tyler Patmon and Lubbock Smith each have two interceptions.
Texas Tech put forth a disappointing effort on offense against Texas last week with just 22 points, but that hasn't spoiled its season as it still averages 38.4 ppg on nearly 500 ypg.
Seth Doege threw just one touchdown pass last week, but he still has the most scoring strikes in the nation with 31, one ahead of both Matt Barkley and Derek Carr. He is one of the top signal-callers in the nation across the board, ranking eighth in completion percentage (.693), sixth in yards (2,869), and 16th in passing efficiency (159.9).
Having one of the best receiving duos in the conference has certainly helped Doege's success, as Darrin Moore (50 receptions, 548 yards, eight TDs) and Eric Ward (49 receptions, 643 yards, 10 TDs) are both having impressive seasons. Both receivers went over 100 yards last week for the first time this year.
After a great start to the season, the Texas Tech defense (26.3 ppg) has disappointed in recent weeks by allowing 46.3 ppg over its last three games. Despite the recent struggles, it still ranks second in the conference in permitting just 314.1 ypg.
Cody Davis not only has a team-high 71 tackles but he has picked off three passes. Much like Kansas, the Red Raiders have a difficult time sacking the quarterback, as Kerry Hyder has four of the team's 12 sacks.