The West Virginia Mountaineers defeated their first two Big 12 opponents this season, vaulting themselves to the nation's No. 5 team in the process.
Now, they must stand down the Red Raiders on the road. Texas Tech doesn't carry a ranking, but it's still a dangerous squad.
The Big 12 currently has eight teams with one loss or less this season. The field is very competitive, and the Mountaineers need every win to separate themselves from the competition.
That starts this week.
Let's preview this matchup from top to bottom.
Where: Jones AT&T Stadium, Lubbock, Texas
When: Saturday, October 13 at 3:30 p.m. ET
Betting Line: Texas Tech (+3.5), Over/Under 77.5
Who Might Not Play for West Virginia (according to USAToday.com)
RB Shawne Alston - Thigh - Questionable
Who Might Not Play for Texas Tech (according to USAToday.com)
RB Kenny Williams - Ankle - Probable
WR Derreck Edwards - Academics - Questionable
WR Javares McRoy - Academics - Questionable
DL Michael Starts - Illness - Out Indefinitely
RB DeAndre Washington - Knee - Out Indefinitely
BCS/Top 25 Implications
The No. 5 Mountaineers are currently tied with the No. 6 Kansas State Wildcats atop the Big 12 standings, with a BCS automatic bid up for grabs.
Texas Tech, at 4-1, is one of five teams with one in-conference loss.
West Virginia will still play Kansas State and Oklahoma this season. That gives it two more opportunities to prove itself against ranked opponents, but losing this game wouldn't help anything.
The Red Raiders must also face the Wildcats this season, as well as Texas. Pulling the upset here wouldn't give them a free pass, but it's certainly a step in the right direction.
What They're Saying
You can't talk about West Virginia without mentioning Geno Smith.
The Dallas Morning News reporter Mike Graham brings us this quote from Texas Tech's Tommy Tuberville, concerning the signal-caller his team will face on Saturday:
He needs to have a bad day. He hasn’t had many of those. I’ve seen him practice with Eli and Peyton at the Manning camp. He has a great release, very accurate with the ball and he’s got the height it takes. He doesn’t throw the ball up, he throws it down. He throws the deep ball well and the speed he has doesn’t hurt. He’s picked up the offense well and has looked better and better.
He struggled in a couple of games early with execution but everybody has early. To ask what you do against him, you know, you just play and hope you disrupt timing and those things. When you play good quarterbacks you know what to expect. You know he’s going to make his strikes and you’ve got to get back in the huddle and play again.
That's a lot to take in, but you get the picture. Smith is electric. He's vaulted himself to the top of all Heisman Trophy conversations, and he's making a strong case as the NFL draft's No. 1 pick next April.
He, alone, makes West Virginia worth watching.
Who to Watch (West Virginia): Tavon Austin, WR
Everyone talks about Geno Smith, but someone has to catch those pretty passes.
Austin has 58 catches for 662 yards and eight scores this year. He's only 5'9'', relying instead on his exceptional quickness to blow by defenders.
Stedman Bailey is also a dynamic target, but Austin is a game-changer. If you let him, he can control a game all on his own.
Who to Watch (Texas Tech): Seth Doege, QB
Doege has thrown for 15 touchdowns and six picks for the Red Raiders this season. When he goes, they go.
If Texas Tech wants to keep pace with the Mountaineers' attack, Doege will have to turn in a massive performance. In a game that will feature plenty of passes, he will have his share of opportunities.
Doege doesn't have Smith's natural ability, but every college football fan should be used to Texas Tech's gaudy passing production by now.
The Red Raiders can score, but that's nothing new. West Virginia will ride its incredible offense to another victory on Saturday. As good as Texas Tech's aerial attack can be, they don't have anyone to stick with Smith, Bailey and Austin on defense.
Prediction: West Virginia 49, Texas Tech 40
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