Texas Tech vs. Kansas State: How Red Raiders Can Upset Another Big 12 Favorite

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Texas Tech vs. Kansas State: How Red Raiders Can Upset Another Big 12 Favorite

Texas Tech has already managed to knock off two quality Big 12 teams in West Virginia and TCU and will have another chance to prove that it is a contender this weekend.

The Red Raiders will take their second consecutive road trip, this time to Bill Snyder Stadium to take on the No. 3 ranked Kansas State Wildcats. While Texas Tech has been a surprise team this year, there may not be a bigger shock than Kansas State racking up a 7-0 record, including two road victories over Oklahoma and West Virginia.

The success Bill Snyder's program has had this year has made them the late-season favorite to win the Big 12 Conference. Winning a third straight game against a ranked opponent certainly won't be easy for Texas Tech.

Here are the keys to the game for the Red Raiders to pull off another upset and enter the possible BCS bowl conversation.

 

Force Collin Klein to Throw the Ball

There is no secret as to who the key is to this football game.

Quarterback Collin Klein has now moved up in the Heisman rankings and is considered by many to be the favorite for the award. He has produced off-the-chart numbers and is an absolute beast running the football, but he still has issues throwing the ball.

Sure, Klein has shown he can complete passes to wide open receivers, as he threw for 323 yards and completed 90 percent of his passes against West Virginia. But that's a Mountaineers defense that believes it is illegal to play defense and would give up at least three touchdowns if Air Bud was running around on the field.

Texas Tech actually understands the concept of defense and is ranked 11th in the country against the pass. The problem is that Klein is going to want to run the football and is going to hit this defense with many play-action passes, trap plays and just good old power runs up the middle that turn into gigantic gains.

The Red Raiders have not done a good job of pressuring opposing quarterbacks, but they do have a physical defensive line led by defensive tackle Kerry Hyder, which has resulted in the 20th best run-defense in college football.

There has not been a team that has been able to slow Klein down, as teams either choose to blitz and hope the senior doesn't make the throws or sit back and let Klein run all over them for 100 yards and a pair of touchdowns.

Texas Tech is one of the few defenses in this conference that has the players who can slow him down and make things difficult. Clog up those running lanes and force the Kansas State quarterback to throw into tight windows, which is something he didn't have to do in the West Virginia contest.

If the Red Raiders can make anybody besides the Heisman favorite beat them, they will improve their chances drastically for winning the game.

 

Get the Running Game Going

Michael C. Johnson-US PRESSWIRE
Eric Stephens Jr., who has averaged over five yards a carry this year, will likely be the key to this contest.
While all of the Heisman talk is going to the Kansas State quarterback, Texas Tech has a solid signal-caller themselves in Seth Doege. He is completing 70 percent of his passes, has thrown for more than 2,000 yards and leads the country with 28 passing touchdowns.

But the Wildcats are good on the defensive side of the ball as well, as the unit is ranked fourth in the Big 12, allowing 327 total yards a game. The secondary isn't as polished as the Red Raiders unit is, but Kansas State has intercepted eight passes and was able to hold West Virginia to only 155 yards through the air last week.

Who will win the game?

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Doege has shown to be one of the better and more consistent quarterbacks in the country, but he won't be able to do everything on his own. The running game that has struggled to get going throughout the year must produce at a higher level in this contest.

Kenny Williams and Eric Stephens Jr. have both done a terrific job this season when given the football, as they are both averaging over five yards a carry. The problem is that neither back has received consistent touches throughout the year and it has led to the Red Raiders averaging less than 155 yards on the ground a game.

While the offense of Kansas State receives majority of the credit, the defense is more than capable of holding its own. Texas Tech must spread the defense out and get the running game going to take some of that pressure off of Doege, as many Big 12 teams have already shown that a quarterback can't be great 100 percent of the time.

Note: All stats come from cfbstats.com unless otherwise noted.

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