Reason #1: Erik Ezukanma
The only Red Raider receiver to make any kind of an impact this season, Erik Ezukanma has quickly emerged as one of college football’s elite wideouts.
The junior already has a nation-leading 322 receiving yards through two games, averaging 24.8 yards per catch. There are not that many defensive backs in the country that can guard Ezukanma. If somehow there are, they certainly don’t play for FIU. Expect one of the nation’s best receivers to shine once again.
Reason #2: Running Game
If anything is working for Texas Tech this season, it’s the running game. SaRodrick Thompson hasn’t played so far, but that hasn’t seemed to matter. Tahj Brooks has filled the starting duties just fine with his 237 yards and four touchdowns. Xavier White has also played well, rushing for 70 yards and a touchdown against Stephen F. Austin last week.
Whether Thompson returns this week or not remains a mystery. However, Tech has proven they don’t need him to come back. Brooks and White should both get many carries on Saturday, and both should have great performances again.
Reason #3: Quality of opponent
I said something like this last week, and we all know what happened. The Red Raiders struggled, nearly falling to the Lumberjacks at the very end of the game. That came through Tech yet again underestimating an FCS opponent.
This is another game where, on paper, Tech should win by at least 30. This season, FIU is 1-1, with their one win coming against Long Island, a team that West Virginia crushed 66-0 last week. The Panthers went winless last season, and there’s not much reason to think they’ll do better this season. The Red Raiders should dominate, which leads me to my final reason.
Reason #4: The need for a strong performance before Big 12 play
Texas Tech opens up conference play next week against rival Texas. While Texas may not be as good as we thought they were, they will still be favored against the Red Raiders.
Tech needs a blowout win over the Panthers for the team and its fans to have substantial confidence next week. The opponent should motivate Tech regardless, but coming off an excellent performance against FIU wouldn’t hurt either. The Red Raiders play based on their momentum. They’ll need much of it when they head to Austin. This game against the Panthers is a great place to get it.