Two-minute drill: Texas Tech
Iowa State Cyclones (1-3, 0-1) at Texas Tech Red Raiders (5-0, 2-0)
Iowa State Rush Offense vs. Texas Tech Rush Defense
Aaron Wimberly has emerged as a go-to back with consecutive 100-yard games. He finally had a few negative rushes in the Texas loss, but is averaging 5.2 yards per carry and starting to turn small holes into big gains. Tech ranks 17th nationally against the run (107.2 yards), but none of the FBS teams it’s faced thus far (SMU, TCU, Kansas) rank higher than 90th in rushing offense. (Slight) Advantage: Texas Tech.
Iowa State Pass Offense vs. Texas Tech Pass Defense
The big plays have continued to come for Quenton Bundrage, who set an ISU record with a 97-yard TD catch against Texas. And don’t look now, but hobbled Cyclone quarterback Sam Richardson is coming off his best career game in terms of offensive production (345 yards passing and running). Tech ranks a well below average 80th in passing yards allowed (244.4 per game). Advantage: Iowa State.
Texas Tech Rush Offense vs. Iowa State Rush Defense
The Red Raiders are one of three Big 12 team to throw more than run and it’s really not even close. Tech’s attempted 279 passes to 166 rushes and all of its backs with more than 13 carries average three yards or less. ISU, meanwhile, has risen to sixth in the Big 12 in rushing defense, allowing 162.8 yards per game, including just 205 yards the past two games against Tulsa and Texas. (Slight) Advantage: Iowa State
Texas Tech Pass Offense vs. Iowa State Pass Defense
This is the clearest advantage category, even though the Cyclones’ secondary is strong. The Red Raiders’ “air raid” is in full effect — targets Jace Amaro, Eric Ward, Jakeem Grant and Brad Marquez all average at least 58.4 yards per game and total nine TDs. ISU is one of six teams nationally with only one interception this season, though there have been numerous near-misses. Advantage: Texas Tech
Texas Tech kicker Ryan Bustin is on pace to break his own field goals record. He’s 13 of 15 on kicks this season. He made a school record 17 last season and has never missed an extra point attempt in 83 chances. Iowa State’s Cole Netten is coming off his best game — 3-for-3 against Texas. Red Raiders punter Ryan Erxleben averages 45.2 yards per boot; ISU’s Kirby Van Der Kamp averages 43.2. Advantage: Texas Tech
ISU is 1-0 on the road this season and seems to relish the underdog role even more when faced with long odds and angry, belittling faces. The Cyclones will see plenty of those in Lubbock, where the fans, shall we say, “get into it.” ISU’s last visit to the South Plains — a 41-7 trouncing against a ranked Red Raiders team — came after eerily similar pregame circumstances. The Cyclones had lost four straight games and appeared sliding toward a bad season. Tech has repeatedly rolled inferior opponents (and eked out a win against a stout TCU defense). The spread is two touchdowns. Again, a deja vu feel. The Red Raiders are on a Kliff Kingsbury-induced high, though. The former Tech quarterback under Mike Leach took over the embattled program after Tommy Tuberville bolted to Cincinnati and is undefeated as a head coach. Advantage: Iowa State.
Iowa State will win if … Aaron Wimberly continues his march toward potential all-Big 12 status in the running game and the defense can add to that tied for last in the nation interception total. Tech walk-on phenom QB Baker Mayfield is “questionable” (knee), so expect even more pressure from ISU’s D-line and linebackers.
Texas Tech will win if … It lives up to the hype. The Red Raiders have played one solid FBS team this season — and TCU’s a work in progress with a struggling offense. The Red Raiders managed 20 points in that 10-point win — 22 points below their average. Tech is even in turnover margin Needs to be at least that on Saturday.
Prediction: Iowa State 35, Texas Tech 31
Three things to watch
Texas Tech’s Jace Amaro
The “big dude” averages nine catches per game. Nine. He’s a security blanket and guided weapon all in one. He also loves to block, as ISU safety Jacques Washington said: “He’ll drive you to the ground.” At 6-5, 260 (some say he’s grown, that’s what the roster says), Amaro commands added attention. Will that be enough?
Iowa State’s shots
Wide receiver Quenton Bundrage made it clear: The more shots the better. He’s scored three touchdowns in a game (Iowa) and his 97-yarder last week was the second-longest play from scrimmage in program history. If the Cyclones can set up deep routes, he — and possibly Justin Coleman, E.J. Bibbs and Jarvis West — will deliver.
Iowa State’s offensive line
Center Tom Farniok could practice fully this week — whether he did is an open question — and that was big to him. He’s huge to the offense, as production in both the run and pass game generally ratchets up with him in there. Oni Omoile has come on at strong guard. Former starter Jamison Lalk (MCL) may be available, too.
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