West Virginia vs Texas Tech: Complete Game Preview
For the first time since 1938, West Virginia and Texas Tech will knuckle up on a football field.
That matchup in 1938 ended in a 7-6 victory for the Mountaineers, though a slightly higher final score is expected when these two high-powered offenses meet on Saturday.
WVU will enter the game ranked No. 5 in the Week 7 Associated Press poll, while TTU is on the outside looking in after suffering its first loss of the season last week.
The Mountaineers will be looking to avoid the infamous trap game between highly ranked opponents, as they will take on No. 6 Kansas State next week.
Meanwhile, the Red Raiders will be attempting to make it back to winning ways before a two-week road stretch.
Here is everything you need to know about Saturday's Big 12 Conference matchup between West Virginia and Texas Tech.
No. 5 West Virginia at Texas Tech | Big 12 Conference Game
When: Saturday, Oct. 13 | 3:30 p.m. ET
Where: Jones AT&T Stadium (60,454) | Lubbock, Texas
TV: ABC (Sean McDonough, Chris Spielman, Quint Kessenich)
Live Stream: WatchESPN
WVU Depth Chart
QB: Geno Smith, 12 (Sr.)
Paul Millard, 14 (r-Fr.)
WR (X): Stedman Bailey, 3 (r-Jr.)
Ivan McCartney, 5 (Jr.)
IR (H): Jordan Thompson, 10 (Fr.)
Dante Campbell, 15 (r-Fr.)
LT: Quinton Spain, 67 (r-So.)
Nick Kindler, 79 (r-Jr.)
LG: Josh Jenkins, 77 (r-Sr.)
C: Joe Madsen, 74 (r-Sr.)
John Bassler, 60 (r-Sr.)
RG: Jeff Braun, 57 (r-Sr.)
RT: Pat Eger, 76 (r-Jr.)
Curtis Feigt, 62 (r-Jr.)
IR (Y): Tavon Austin, 1 (Sr.)
Travares Copeland, 2 (Fr.)
WR (Z): J.D. Woods, 81 (r-Sr.)
Ryan Nehlen, 80 (r-Sr.)
RB (A): Ryan Clarke, 32 (r-Sr.)
Cody Clay, 88 (r-Fr.)
RB (B): Shawne Alston, 20 (Sr.)
Andrew Buie, 13 (So.)
Dustin Garrison, 29 (So.)
DT: Jorge Wright, 99 (r-Sr.)
Eric Kinsey, 45 (Fr.)
NT: Shaq Rowell, 90 (Jr.)
Christian Brown, 95 (Fr.)
DE: Will Clarke, 98 (r-Jr.)
Kyle Rose, 93 (r-Fr.)
BUCK: Josh Francis, 4 (Sr.)
Tyler Anderson, 53 (r-Jr.)
Dozie Ezemma, 17 (r-Jr.)
STAR: Terence Garvin, 28 (Sr.)
Wes Tonkery, 37 (r-So.)
WILL: Doug Rigg, 47 (Jr.)
Jewone Snow, 56 (r-So.)
Shaq Petteway, 36 (So.)
SAM: Isaiah Bruce, 31 (r-Fr.)
Jewone Snow, 56 (r-So.)
Jared Barber, 33 (So.)
FCB: Brodrick Jenkins, 23 (r-Jr.)
Ricky Rumph, 41 (Fr.)
Cecil Level, 24 (r-Sr.)
FS: Karl Joseph, 8 (Fr.)
Ishmael Banks, 34 (r-So.)
BS: Darwin Cook, 25 (r-Jr.)
K.J. Dillon, 9 (Fr.)
BCB: Pat Miller, 6 (Sr.)
Nana Kyrehmeh, 7 (Fr.)
K: Tyler Bitancurt, 40 (r-Sr.)
P: Corey Smith, 44 (r-Sr.)
Michael Molinari, 48 (r-So.)
KO: Corey Smith, 44 (r-Sr.)
LS: John DePalma, 87 (Fr.)
PR: Tavon Austin, 1 (Sr.)
Jordan Thompson, 10 (Fr.)
KR: Tavon Austin, 1 (Sr.)
Stedman Bailey, 3 (r-Jr.)
Texas Tech Depth Chart
QB: Seth Doege, 7 (Sr.)
Michael Brewer, 16 (r-Fr.)
LT: LaAdrian Waddle, 65 (Sr.)
Rashad Fortenberry, 73 (Jr.)
LG: Alfredo Morales, 56 (r-Fr.)
Beau Carpenter, 72 (So.)
C: Deveric Gallington, 66 (Sr.)
Jared Kaster, 75 (r-Fr.)
RG: Le'Raven Clark, 62 (r-Fr.)
James Polk, 63 (So.)
RT: Terry McDaniel, 68 (Sr.)
Trey Keenan, 77 (Fr.)
F: Kenny Williams, 34 (So.)
Eric Stephens Jr., 24 (Sr.)
X: Eric Ward, 18 (Jr.)
Bradley Marquez, 4 (So.)
H: Alex Torres, 86 (Sr.)
Jordan Davis, 85 (r-So.)
Y: Tyson Williams, 3 (r-Sr.)
Austin Zouzalik, 6 (r-So.)
Z: Darrin Moore, 14 (Sr.)
Javon Bell, 1 (Jr.)
TE: Jace Amaro, 22 (So.)
BH: Omar Ontiveros, 33 (Jr.)
Chris Knighton, 46 (Jr.)
LE: Dartwan Bush, 54 (Jr.)
Branden Jackson, 9 (r-Fr.)
T: Kerry Hyder, 91 (Jr.)
Leon Mackey, 11 (Sr.)
N: Delvon Simmons, 8 (So.)
Dennell Wesley, 96 (Jr.)
RE: Jackson Richards, 43 (So.)
Pete Robertson, 10 (r-Fr.)
SAM: Terrance Bullitt, 1 (Jr.)
Micah Awe, 19 (Fr.)
MIKE: Will Smith, 7 (Jr.)
Blake Dees, 25 (So.)
WILL: Sam Eguavoen, 13 (So.)
Zach Winbush, 27 (So.)
LS: D.J. Johnson, 12 (Sr.)
J.J. Gaines, 41 (r-Fr.)
RS: Cody Davis, 16 (Sr.)
Chris Yeakey, 37 (r-Sr.)
RC: Eugene Neboh, 31 (Sr.)
Olaoluwa Falemei, 29 (Jr.)
LC: Corneluis Douglas, 2 (Sr.)
Bruce Jones, 24 (Jr.)
NIKL: Tre' Porter, 5 (Jr.)
Jarvis Phillips, 21 (Jr.)
K: Ryan Bustin, 48 (r-So.)
Andrew Bowman, 49 (Sr.)
P: Ryan Erxleben, 26 (Jr.)
Ryan Bustin, 48 (r-So.)
KO: Kramer Fyfe, 45 (So.)
Andrew Bowman, 49 (Sr.)
DS: Alex Chester, 52 (So.)
David Brenner, 57 (r-Fr.)
Trent Williams, 58 (So.)
PR: Austin Zouzalik, 6 (Sr.)
Alex Torres, 86 (Sr.)
Javares McRoy, 17 (r-Fr.)
SaDale Foster, 8 (Jr.)
KR: Bradley Marquez, 4 (So.)
Javares McRoy, 17 (r-Fr.)
SaDale Foster, 8 (Jr.)
Javon Bell, 1 (Jr.)
What Happened to the Mountaineers Last Week
Led by a career day from running back Andrew Buie, West Virginia went to Austin, Texas last week and came out with a victory in its first-ever road contest in the Big 12.
Buie totaled 207 yards and two touchdowns on 31 carries, single-handedly out-rushing the entire Longhorns backfield. He also had three receptions for 66 yards.
Of course, at the center of it all was Heisman Trophy front-runner Geno Smith at quarterback. Smith had another solid performance, netting 268 yards through the air to go with four touchdowns and zero interceptions.
His two favorite targets, Tavon Austin and Stedman Bailey excelled as well, combining for 18 receptions, 177 yards and four touchdowns, once again proving why they are one of the most dangerous receiving tandems in college football.
After allowing 63 points and nearly allowing Baylor to mount a comeback in the previous week, the WVU defensive unit stepped up in a big way against Texas. Oft-maligned cornerback Pat Miller came through with a sack and two enormous fourth-down pass breakups in the fourth quarter to thwart the Texas comeback effort.
Still, Buie was without a doubt the player of the game for WVU. On the Mountaineers' final drive, Buie ran seven times for 63 yards and the game-sealing touchdown, giving WVU a 10-point lead and melting 4:13 off the clock.
What Happened to the Red Raiders Last Week
Texas Tech entered its game with Oklahoma undefeated and boasting the No. 1 defense in college football. Fourty-one points later, TTU was 4-1, as the Sooners avenged a 41-38 upset at the hands of the Red Raiders last season.
In this season's contest, the Red Raider offense struggled as quarterback Seth Doege threw for zero touchdowns and three interceptions in the 41-20 loss. They didn't have much more success on the ground either, mustering just 89 yards at an average of 2.8 per carry.
The Red Raiders held a 10-7 lead early in the second quarter, but after that were outscored by the Sooners 34-3 until late in the fourth quarter.
Still the Red Raider defense ranks No. 2 in total defense behind only Alabama after allowing 380 to OU in what was by far its worst defensive performance of the season.
The loss put Texas Tech into a five-way tie for third place in the Big 12 standings.
What This Game Means for Both Teams
With that move to 1-1 in Big 12 play, every win in conference play now becomes more and more cherished for Texas Tech. Also, despite having four wins on the season, bowl eligibility now becomes a concern for the Red Raiders.
Of their seven remaining games, six teams are currently or have been nationally ranked at some point this season. In the conference title picture, this game is essentially a must-win for TTU.
West Virginia, meanwhile, sits alongside Kansas State at the top of the conference standings at 2-0. Coincidentally, WVU will play KSU in Morgantown next week.
In the grand scheme of things, every game is a must-win for the fifth-ranked Mountaineers who have their sights set on a national-title berth.
In terms of the Big 12 title, WVU really cannot afford a loss heading into a game with the only other undefeated team in conference play.
With so many talented and evenly-matched teams in the Big 12, every single game can make or break a team's bowl chances and pecking order in the conference standings.
Key Player for West Virginia
Running Back Andrew Buie
No, not Geno Smith. Of course, the senior signal caller will be absolutely vital to WVU's success against Texas Tech.
However, West Virginia will likely be committed to establishing the run once again.
The Red Raiders currently rank No. 1 in the nation in passing defense and No. 13 in rushing defense. Oklahoma wasn't able to see too much success with the run, netting only 121 yards on the ground.
However, the Sooners also attempted 40 passes and just 29 runs.
Buie is running as hard and as confident as ever, coming off of the best game of his career. So, you can bet he'll be running with wanton disregard for the defenders attempting to tackle him in Lubbock.
If he can have a big day for WVU, it will open up the passing game for Smith. If not, the Red Raiders will have a serious shot at slowing the Mountaineer offense down.
Key Player for Texas Tech
Quarterback Seth Doege
Senior quarterback Seth Doege will be up against the No. 121 passing defense in the country on Saturday.
If the Red Raiders expect to keep up with the menacing Mountaineer offense, Doege will have to have a huge performance and follow the blueprint laid out by Baylor two weeks ago.
The Bears nearly went score-for-score with WVU, but fell just short in a 70-63 shootout. Still, Baylor quarterback Nick Florence ripped through the West Virignia secondary to the tune of 581 yards.
Earlier in the year, Marshall quarterback Rakeem Cato did much of the same, netting 413 yards through the air. Most recently, Texas quarterback David Ash finished 22-of-29 for 269 yards against WVU.
On the other hand, West Virginia has been relatively stout against the run, allowing just 124 yards per game.
Texas Tech does have a few talented rushers, but averages just 168.4 yards per contest, compared to 341.2 through the air.
Doege has done it all year for TTU, and he'll have to do it again on Saturday.
WVU on Texas Tech
Here is what head coach Dana Holgorsen and West Virginia are saying about Texas Tech:
Holgorsen on the Texas Tech defense:
They’re not very tricky. They’re very, very sound and are never out of position. They blitz eight percent of the time. They’re not a gimmick defense—they’re a sound, effort defense. They play hard, and their guys are in position. That poses problems when you don’t know what they’re going to do and that aggravates you from a game-plan standpoint. We can come up with a bunch of plays, but it’s hard to execute against them.
Holgorsen on the Texas Tech offense:
I know what they do offensively, and like I said they’re going to tempo you, run the ball and get the ball in space. We have to do a good job tackling in space. They’re going to pose a bunch of problems.
Holgorsen on the potential for a trap game:
I don’t understand what a trap game means. You play the same every week. If you don’t have the ability to understand that every week is the same, you get beat. Whether it’s a trap game or ‘big’ game, it’s a game.
Quarterback Geno Smith on the potential for a trap game:
I believe we have a great group of leaders on this team. We have great leadership from the coaching staff down to the players. We have good senior leadership. We all understand our responsibilities, which is to getting better from week to week. We are not going to look past anyone. It’s a marathon, not a sprint.
Cornerback Pat Miller on the Texas Tech offense:
They play physical. They take their shots downfield as well. They’ve always had a good offense. We just have to be ready for the challenge when it comes up.
Texas Tech on WVU
Here is what head coach Tommy Tuberville and Texas Tech are saying about West Virginia (via ASAPSports.com):
Tuberville on Geno Smith, the WVU offense:
We've got a good football team coming to town. Scoring a lot of points, averaging 52 points a game. They do a great job. They've got an outstanding quarterback that loves to throw the ball. He's strong, he's quick. I had a chance to watch him quite a bit in the Manning Camp this summer against all the other quarterbacks in the country, and there was no better kid than him. He's got great touch on the ball.
Tuberville on the WVU defense:
They're leaning on a defense that's gotten better and better every week. I know they've given up some points, and their offense has put them in some tough situations, but their defense has a lot of talent and a lot of speed. So we have our hands full.
If Oklahoma was a big test, what is West Virginia?
A bigger test. They're all bigger tests. This is a good team. I said it the first of the year, my vote was going to go to these guys. Just knowing the quarterback they have, if anybody has the front running lead of this championship, it will be them with all the experience and speed they've got...The teams that have tackled them give themselves a chance. But it doesn't make any difference. We've got to play on both sides, offense and defense. We can't just worry about tackling them. We have to score points.
Quarterback Seth Doege on the challenge posed by WVU:
(Geno Smith has) his offense rolling right now. But we've got faith in our defense. They feel confident that they can play, and we feel confident that we're going to put points up. That is kind of the MO of this league. You've got to score points to win, and we're excited about it. We're excited about the opportunity, and we welcome the challenge.
Safety D.J. Johnson on the challenge of playing WVU:
Personally, me, I respect everyone, but I kind of don't feed into the hype. If you're boosted up, until I play you, I can't give my personal opinion about you until I play. As of right now, it's just the next team and another game.
West Virginia Will Win If...
West Virginia will win if it can establish the run like it did against Texas.
Andrew Buie won't have to run for 200 yards or carry the ball 31 times again, but if he can average anywhere near 6.7 yards per carry, the Mountaineers will be on their way to another huge day offensively.
Last week, the chief concern of Texas was stopping the pass. As a result, WVU gouged the Longhorns on the ground.
If Texas Tech also keys in on stopping Smith and his dangerous receivers, Buie and the West Virginia ground game will be poised for another great game.
Plus, if WVU commits to the run, it will open up more room in the passing game.
If this happens, it won't really matter how the defense plays, because Texas Tech won't be able to keep up with a balanced Mountaineer attack.
Texas Tech Will Win If...
Texas Tech will win if its defense can take away one facet of the WVU offense while Seth Doege has a huge day through the air.
West Virginia has proven that it can be deadly on the ground and through the air. So, Texas Tech has to commit to stopping one, or it will be beaten by both.
If WVU has success in both offensive categories, TTU will stand almost no chance.
Regardless of what happens on defense for the Red Raiders, Doege will need to lead the offense to a high-scoring day.
West Virginia's lowest point total this year was 31 points against Maryland, and the way the Mountaineers have been playing, I wouldn't anticipate them scoring any less than that.
So, Doege and Texas Tech will probably need to exceed their 39 point per game average.
The good news is that WVU has been atrocious in pass defense and Texas Tech will be bringing the deepest and arguably the most talented receiving corps the Mountaineers have seen this year.
Despite the success Texas Tech has had on defense this season, West Virginia's offense will just be too much for the Red Raiders to handle.
The Mountaineer offense, averaging 52 points per game, is undoubtedly the best TTU has seen this season.
Whether its on the ground or in the air, head coach Dana Holgorsen will craft a flexible, fluid game plan that will adapt to what the Red Raiders are doing on offense. Geno Smith will earn his stats, as he has in every game this year, which will be the end of Texas Tech.
Seth Doege and the Red Raider offense will be able to keep up with West Virginia for a while, especially given the Mountaineers deficiency at defending the pass.
However, WVU will come up with enough stops to earn the win.
Prediction: West Virginia 55, Texas Tech 41