Lubbock, TX – Lone Star State rivals square off in Lubbock on Saturday, as the 20th-ranked Texas Tech Red Raiders play host to the Texas Longhorns in Big 12 Conference action.
After a 4-0 start to the season, Texas rose to No. 11 in the country, but it promptly fell from grace following back-to-back losses to West Virginia (48-45) and Oklahoma (63-21). Since then, however, the Longhorns have righted the ship with two straight wins, including a come-from-behind road victory over Kansas last week, 21-17.
Texas Tech lost a home bout to Oklahoma on Oct. 6 (41-20), but it responded from that defeat incredibly well with two signature wins over West Virginia (49-14) and on the road against TCU (56-53). The Red Raiders had their most difficult test to date last week in facing No. 4 Kansas State, losing 55-24, causing them to fall from No. 14 to No. 20 in this week's AP Poll.
"Last week's game was a disappointment," head coach Tommy Tuberville said. "We can't turn the ball over against a team that doesn't turn the ball over and have a chance to win."
"Texas is a big game for us," he continued. "They've struggled up-and-down in some areas as we have -- pretty similar, same record -- so pretty much similar teams. We'll tee it up and see what happens."
Texas has dominated the all-time series with Texas Tech, winning 45 of the 60 previous meetings. The Red Raiders have not beaten the Longhorns since 2008.
The Longhorns rank in the bottom-half of the league in terms of total offense (442.9 ypg), but they still rack up 41.5 ppg. In the high-flying Big 12, they are one of seven teams that average at least 40 ppg (along with Texas Tech).
David Ash (215.8 ypg, .687 completion percentage, 12 TDs, five INTs) has been the starter all season, but after throwing two interceptions last week, he was replaced in the fourth quarter by Case McCoy, who sparked a comeback by going 6-of-8 for 109 yards and the game-winning touchdown to D.J. Grant in the final minute. Head coach Mack Brown is sticking with Ash as his starter for now, but knows that he can rely on McCoy if need be.
"Not much discussion, David has done a great job," Brown said. "We're lucky to have two (quarterbacks). That's what we fought for in the competition in the spring and summer. David struggled (last week), but the offense struggled. I was excited for Case that he was prepared to come in. We feel like Case is the guy we can use when needed."
Complementing the quarterbacks is a stable of talented running backs. Joe Bergeron (450 yards), Johnathan Gray (427 yards), and Malcolm Brown (245 yards) have all shown explosion, but when the Longhorns get near the goal line it's usually Bergeron doing the dirty work. He's plunged into the end zone 15 times on the ground, one behind K-State's Collin Klein for the league lead.
Mike Davis (34 receptions, 559 yards) and Jaxon Shipley (30 receptions, 334 yards) have been steady in the receiving game, hauling in four touchdown passes apiece.
The Texas defense (32.8 ppg) has been vulnerable this year, especially on the ground (218 rushing ypg).
Alex Okafor is one of the conference's best defensive linemen, racking up 10 tackles for loss, seven sacks, and 16 QB hurries. Quandre Diggs has 10 passes defended and three interceptions.
Despite tying a season-low with 24 points last week, Texas Tech is still more than capable of scoring points in bunches (40.5 ppg).
The Red Raiders have traditionally gotten strong play out of their quarterbacks, and Seth Doege has been no exception this season. He's one of the nation's best signal callers, ranking seventh in the FBS in yards (2,540), fifth in completion percentage (.707), and first in passing touchdowns (30). He has thrown for 300 yards or more in all but two games this season.
Doege does a good job disrupting his passes to many different receivers as 10 players have recorded double-digit catches. Darrin Moore (43 receptions, 440 yards, eight TDs) and Eric Ward (41 receptions, 517 yards, 10 TDs) are among the nation's leaders in receiving touchdowns.
Even with the high-powered passing attack, Texas Tech still finds time for an effective running game, as Kenny Williams (504 yards), Eric Stephens (358 yards), and SaDale Foster (330 yards) each average more than five yards per carry and have scored three touchdowns apiece.
After starting the season so well, the defense has been a major letdown over the past two games, surrendering a total of 111 points. Even with back-to-back duds, the unit's points allowed per game is respectable (25.8 ppg) and it still ranks 12th nationally in total defense (300.0 ypg).
Cody Davis not only has a team-high 64 tackles but he's also picked off three passes. The team doesn't get much pressure on the quarterback with just 12 sacks, led by four from Kerry Hyder.