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Missouri-Texas Tech: Will the Red Raiders Cage the Tigers?

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Missouri-Texas Tech: Will the Red Raiders Cage the Tigers?
Ronald Martinez/Getty Images
Texas Tech fans show their team spirit in Sept. 2010. Their team will need their support against Mizzou.

Has anyone seen the film I wrote: “Raiders of the Lost Art of Ball Security”? It could be coming to a Big 12 college campus near you.

On the Lubbock campus, Texas Tech University will host Missouri on Saturday at Jones AT&T Stadium.

It’s not Jerry Jones’ stadium; Clifford B. and Audrey Jones were the benefactors of the place’s naming.

The Red Raiders win 67 percent of their games at the venue.

Since 2001, when Gary Pinkel was hired at Missouri, he is 3-1 against Texas Tech. 

He is 1-1 in Lubbock.  The last time his Tigers came to town was in 2006, and they won: 38-21.

The two programs’ last meeting was in 2007.  Mizzou won that, 41-10.

This season, the Red Raiders and Tigers are almost even in a lot of Big 12 categories. 

For example, they’re No. 6 and No. 7 in total offense. 

The difference is that Missouri rarely shoots their own feet; Texas Tech has been prone to making mistakes.  

Defense is what separates the teams and explains why Mizzou is a contender while Tech is a pretender.   

Trailing only Oklahoma and Nebraska, Mizzou is No. 2 in scoring defense, and the Tigers defend the pass particularly well.

They lead the Big 12 in sacking the quarterback.

Their defensive backs provide blanket coverage, consequently, the linebackers and safeties will blitz at will.

Mizzou is No. 1 in red zone defense, too; they keep their opponents kicking field goals or punting.

The Red Raiders, however, can move the chains. 

When it comes to getting first downs, they are first in the Big 12. 

My analysis, therefore, is that they will get first downs but stall in the red zone.

There’s not anything special about that discernment.

The Missouri special teams unit is better than Texas Tech’s, if you believe in statistics. 

I heard Phil Simms saying while he was on the air that numbers are deceptive in football.

Not all the time, Phil, I say. 

Winning six bowls in seven years and averaging nine wins per season, there is no deception; the Missouri Tigers have a rock-solid football program.

In 2009, after winning back-to-back Big 12 North titles, their second place finish was a bit disappointing.

Yet Missouri (7-1, 3-1) is stalking the 2010 Big 12 North title.  They’ll root for their prey to lose at Iowa State on Saturday, Nov. 6.

To be the Big 12 BCS team, the Tigers must pass No. 7 Nebraska and No. 8 Oklahoma.

Slipping against the Red Raiders is not an option.

Texas Tech (4-4, 2-4) is winless at home in the Big 12, but they are the only conference team which knows how defeating Baylor feels.

On Oct. 9, they beat the Bears at the Cotton Bowl, 45-38.  Colorado fell to the Red Raiders two weeks later in Boulder.

The Red Raiders Big 12 losses were against Texas, Iowa State, Oklahoma State and Texas A&M.

In comparison, Mizzou opened up a can of you-know-what on A&M in College Station.  The Aggies were outplayed and out-coached.

After replacing Mike Leach in Lubbock, Tommy Tuberville is in his first season with the Red Raiders.

Hired in January 2010, the former SEC head coach is still getting his feet wet in the Big 12.

He was guiding Auburn to a 13-0 record in 2004.  His Texas Tech team has been fast starting team but end up not rolling.

Defensive coordinator James Willis was coaching Alabama’s linebackers for Nick Saban last season.

Tuberville hired him four days after accepting the Red Raiders position.  Rolando McClain won the Butkus Award under Willis.

But the Tech defense isn’t good enough to stop high-powered offenses, according to Tuberville. 

Texas Tech’s staff is struggling against the Big 12’s spread offenses.  After seeing the "bull in a China closet" SEC running game, the spread can be disconcerting.

Techs running backs are slowing down due to injuries, according to their offensive coordinator.

So they have to find other means to outscore opponents.  When they are fumbling the ball away for touchbacks, they have little chance.

“Raiders of the Lost Art of Ball Security”: That is my film title for this year’s Tech-A&M game.  Tech cannot afford to out-fumble Missouri.  

Detron Lewis and Lyle Leong will need fantastic games against Mizzou’s secondary. 

Texas Tech’s sophomore Eric Stephens is near the top in Big 12 total offense, and he could get loose.

Yet the Tigers won’t be caged, I suspect.  I anticipate Coach Willis bringing pressure, leaving his corners one-on-one against Mizzou’s receivers.

Wes Kemp could have a huge game marked by over and over again out-striding and out-jumping Tech’s secondary.

A&M’s Jeff Fuller burned the Red Raiders, and I expect the Tigers to be warming their paws for Tech’s defender.

Prediction: The Tigers need a rebound victory after Roy Helu’s running of the Boston Marathon against them.  They will get it in Lubbock: 31-20.

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