The Red Raiders welcome the Cowboys of Oklahoma State this week to close out the home portion of the 2021 season. This Texas Tech vs. Oklahoma State affair is going to be physical and likely a non-traditional Big 12 style game. Are the Red Raiders up for the challenge with the Big 12 favorites coming to town?
When Texas Tech Is On Offense
Last week, Donovan Smith got his first start as the Red Raiders’ quarterback and did not disappoint. A 25-32 for 322 yards and three touchdown performances helped lead Texas Tech to a win over Iowa State that could be a major shift in the trajectory of the program. Smith and the offense though are going to have to play their best game of the season if they are to pull off the upset this week. They aren’t just squaring off against the best defense in the Big 12; this Cowboy’s defense is one of the best in the entire country.
Just how stingy is this Oklahoma State defense?
- Total defense: 282.8 yards per game, third best nationally
- Scoring defense: 16.4 points per game, eight best nationally
- Sacks: 37, tied for first nationally
- Tackles for loss per game: 7.7, tied for second nationally
- 3rd down conversition percentage (how frequently teams are converting 3rd down): 24.8%, second best nationally
- Stop rate (percentage of defensive drives that end in punts, turnovers, or turnover on downs) is 79.1%., sixth best nationally
How can Texas Tech attack a defense that seemingly doesn’t have any identifiable weaknesses? Sustained lengthy drives will not get the job done this week. Texas Tech is going to have to generate big chunk plays if they expect to score. Interim head coach and offensive coordinator Sonny Cumbie has to find ways to get his best playmakers the ball in space and those playmakers have to make defenders miss. He also needs to ask Smith to take chances when one-on-one opportunities present themselves downfield. With the way Texas Tech is playing right now, it had the potential to stress this Oklahoma State defense. Texas Tech ranks in the top four of the Big 12 in scoring, passing yards per game, total offense per game, and third-down conversion percentage.
When Texas Tech Is On Defense
As vaunted as the Oklahoma State defense has been, the offense has left much to be desired if you are a Cowboys fan. Oklahoma State ranks only sixth in scoring, seventh in total offense, and eighth in offensive efficiency within the Big 12 ranks. The strength of this average offense is in their rushing attack. They are averaging 196.5 yards a game, third-best in the Big 12 (32nd nationally). That rushing attack is led by Jaylen Warren, who is averaging 5.0 yards per carry in Big 12 play. In a conference with many nationally known running backs, Warren is just as talented. The Red Raiders are coming off a performance in which they limited Breece Hall to 51 yards rushing, and at the same time, have surrendered over 300 yards rushing twice this season.
If Texas Tech can force Oklahoma State to play behind the chains, and put the game on the shoulders of quarterback Spencer Sanders, the Red Raiders stand a good chance of keeping this offense very limited. Sanders has only thrown for over 300 yards once this season. He hasn’t attempted more than 35 passes in a game this season. He has only had a completion percentage over 60 in five of their nine games this season. With the offense facing a major challenge, the defense needs to limit Warren and get pressure on Sanders.
Texas Tech vs. Oklahoma State Prediction
Everything has been coming up roses since Joey McGuire was hired to lead the Texas Tech football program next year. McGuire and his staff are setting the recruiting trail on fire. Texas Tech beat Iowa State for the first time in six seasons. Mr. Momentum has been taking up temporary residency in Lubbock, TX. A night game at the Jones on Senior night should provide the best home atmosphere of the season. However, even with all of that tremendous momentum and excitement built up in the program, this Texas Tech vs. Oklahoma State showdown will ultimately prove to be too tough for the Red Raiders. Smith has looked good since getting worked into the offense, but he is still a Freshman quarterback going against one of the best defenses in the country. The Red Raiders fight hard in this one but come up just short in hope of dashing the Cowboy’s playoff hopes.
Oklahoma State 28, Texas Tech 24