There was a time when fans would fear the Nebraska Cornhuskers when they were coming to town. That hasn't been the case over the last few years. In the 1990's Texas Tech would have probably been a double digit underdog at home to Nebraska. Going into Saturday's game, Tech is a 21-point favorite.
Yes, things have changed.
Nebraska brings in the nations 82nd ranked defense to face the No. 2 overall offense of the Red Raiders. Please read the previous sentence again.
Is 21 points enough?
To make things even worse, Nebraska is 97th against the pass. Tech's offense? Oh, we all know how it has been the last few years under Mike Leach. Yeah, they're numero uno in throwing the ball in the air and having one of their own players catch it and run.
Graham Harrell is now the number one passer in Texas Tech history. Surprisingly, he didn't play the last time the two teams met in Lubbock in 2004. That game was won by Tech 70-10.
I still can't believe that score is real.
Nebraska has given up five touchdowns through the air this year. Graham has thrown 18 himself. In fact, he threw six TD's last week. On the road. (When I say on the road I mean at Kansas State. I bet he could throw even more on the road, because no one really plays defense in street games!)
I wouldn't be surprised if Harrell was having trouble sleeping this week because he is so excited to play this game. Yes, his stats might be hard to replicate in a video game. On the easiest level. Against Syracuse.
Tech is averaging 583 total yards a game on offense. Of course, the majority of that is through the air, equaling 439 yards a game. That does leave 144 yards on the ground. Yep, Tech is running better than ever this year for Leach.
Shannon Woods and Baron Batch have looked impressive in the Air Raid offense. Batch looks especially explosive, even though Woods usually gets the start and their carries are generally evenly distributed.
Tech's leading receiver coming into the game is the fabulously talented Michael Crabtree. He has 38 receptions for 564 yards and 8 touchdown receptions. He's done this with teams paying a lot of attention to him. He is so strong and quick that double teams even have trouble staying with him.
Put single coverage against him, and you're just asking for a big gain to be had.
Nebraska really wants to run the ball this year, but they haven't been very good at it. Texas Tech's defense has continued to improve. Running the ball well would be the Cornhuskers best chance to stay close.
Tech struggled against Nevada who is a very good running team. Of course Nevada might be the best running team in the nation with that crazy "pistol" spread offense they use. It is very good and I would bet much tougher to stop than Nebraska's O.
The intriguing matchup in this game isn't Nebraska on offense and Texas Tech on defense, though. This game will be decided on how well Nebraska's D competes with and slows down Tech's offense.