Texas Tech Rush Offense vs. ISU Rush Defense
The Red Raiders are averaging 230 yards per game on the ground and feature Kenny Williams and Eric Stephens, among others. The Cyclones boast the nation’s 25th-best run defense, allowing 110.3 yards per game. “They are by far the best defense we’ve played,” Tech coach Tommy Tuberville said. (Slight) advantage: Texas Tech.
Texas Tech Pass Offense vs. ISU Pass Defense
Red Raiders 5,000-yard career passer Seth Doege’s on another statistical tear, throwing for 12 touchdowns and one interception. He was awfully good last year, too, before ISU held him out of the end zone while picking off two passes. Cyclones’ pass efficiency defense has risen to No. 2 nationally. (Slight) advantage: ISU.
Iowa State Rush Offense vs. Texas Tech Rush Defense
ISU isn’t quite yet clicking on the ground at 175 yards per game (55th nationally), and Tech, surprisingly, is allowing a meager 75.3 yards per game (12th nationally). The Cyclones have combined for 619 rushing yards in their past two wins over the Red Raiders. James White needs a breakout game. Advantage: ISU.
Iowa State Pass Offense vs. Texas Tech Pass Defense
ISU quarterback Steele Jantz seeks his first win in five Big 12 starts and is completing passes at a solid 70.1 percent clip. Wide receiver Josh Lenz needs to get more involved (3 catches last 2 games). Tech fields the nation’s top-rated pass efficiency defense and features experienced safety Cody Davis. Advantage: Texas Tech.
ISU punter Kirby Van Der Kamp’s a field position weapon, dropping 14 of 19 punts inside the 20-yard line. Texas Tech has punted just three times, averaging 38 yards per boot. Cyclone kicker Edwin Arceo has made three of four field goal attempts. Red Raiders kickers are a combined 6-for-7. (Slight) advantage: Texas Tech.
Having running back Jeff Woody available, as expected, provides a boost to ISU. Woody rushed for a touchdown in last season’s win over Tech and is the Cyclones’ only tried-and-true short-yardage option. Sustaining drives — even non-scoring ones — against the Red Raiders is vitally important. Advantage: ISU
Texas Tech will win if ... It limits turnovers and gets off to a fast start. The Red Raiders were down 21-0 in the first quarter in last year’s 41-7 home loss to ISU and can’t afford to be sluggish out of the gate before 55,000 Cyclone fans eager to bring the noise. Running the ball effectively may be Tech’s key to pulling off a win.
ISU will win if ... The defense continues to bend but not break, quarterback Steele Jantz doesn’t commit a turnover for the first time this season and James White and Shontrelle Johnson key a 200-yard rushing effort. Tech could test ISU’s run-first, short passing approach early. Sticking with it may be the key to victory.
Prediction: ISU 28, Texas Tech 24.
Three things to watch
Texas Tech tight end Jace Amaro. He’s caught three touchdown passes this season and can be a big-play threat at 6-5. He’ll likely draw coverage from linebackers at times. Doege will be looking for him frequently. Amaro has 11 catches for 161 yards — and is one of four pass catchers with 10 more more receptions.
It will be interesting to see how much ISU middle linebacker Jeremiah George will be on the field. It’s hard to go 4-3 against Texas Tech’s spread, but Cyclone defensive coordinator Wally Burnham says George brings an extra-infectious sense of excitement to the defense. Nickel Deon Broomfield’s been good, as well.ISU’s defensive line. Pressuring Doege keeps him off balance and blowing up the interior snuffs out the run game. Interestingly, the Cyclones didn’t sack or hurry Doege once last season, but did bother him enough to force two interceptions. They need to induce him to throw on the run, not scramble for big gains.