Texas Tech-Kansas: The Biggest Game of the Season (Until Next Week)
Texas Tech stumbles into Kansas after sub-par showings and mixed reviews from their first two conference games. They struggled stopping the ball-hog approach employed by Nebraska and had trouble getting on track in the first half against Texas A&M last weekend.
This weekend, Tech faces their first test of the season, one of four in a row coming up in the next month. Traveling to Kansas to face a Kansas team that has lost both of its games against Top 25 opponents, I find it funny that nobody has pointed out Kansas's inability to beat a ranked opponent.
Texas Tech is discounted due to their avoidance of Top 25 foes so far, yet Kansas has played two ranked teams and lost both games.
This weekend, Tech tries to keep their BCS and National Championship hopes alive, while at the same time Kansas tries to save their season.
Both quarterbacks are called upon to be their teams' primary source of offense, and both are extremely efficient. Harrell leads the nation in passing yards per game, while Reesing comes in at seventh. Reesing has a bit better mobility around the pocket, though Harrell is rarely forced to move due to the strong play of the offensive line.
The blocking from Texas Tech's running backs and from their receivers will make the difference, enabling Tech to run screens throughout the game.
Advantage: Texas Tech
Texas Tech comes in with the two-headed rushing attack of Shannon Woods and Baron Batch, both with over 400 yards so far this year and a combined 12 rushing touchdowns. At this point in the season, Kansas relies on Jake Sharp to carry the load, who has just under 400 yards and five touchdowns.
Texas Tech averages 5.5 yards per carry, compared to 3.5 for Kansas, and is much more effective receiving out of the backfield.
Advantage: Texas Tech
Both teams have a strong receiver corps, highlighted by the two sophomore playmakers, Michael Crabtree and Dezmon Briscoe. Crabtree is coming off a two-touchdown performance against A&M, though he was noticeably absent most of the game after sustaining an ankle injury returning a kick.
Briscoe had the game of his career against Oklahoma last weekend, amassing 269 yards on 12 catches and turning two of them into scores.
In Briscoe and Kerry Meier, Kansas has a strong receiving duo. Meier, who leads the Jayhawks in receptions, is averaging eight catches and 90 yards per game. But outside of those two, Kansas is inconsistent at the position. Number three receiver Jonathan Wilson has only two catches in the last three weeks.
Texas Tech has four receivers other than Michael Crabtree who have at least 20 catches and 250 receiving yards. Tramain Swindall and Detron Lewis had big games last weekend while Crabtree was on the sideline and should continue their success this weekend. Texas Tech's depth at receiver is what sets them apart from Kansas.
Advantage: Texas Tech
Both teams are coming off memorable games last weekend, though for different reasons. Kansas allowed a season-high 206 yards on the ground to Oklahoma last week, while Texas Tech held Texas A&M to 20 rushing yards, less than one yard per carry.
Though Tech has had problems controlling the tempo of the game against a team who tries to run consistently, I doubt rushing will be what decides this week's game.
Both teams have nice interception numbers on defense, yet for the most part have had trouble stopping the pass in conference play.
Kansas was ripped apart by Sam Bradford last weekend to the tune of 468 yards and three touchdowns. Texas Tech struggled to stop Jerrod Johnson of A&M in the first half and have just one interception in conference play, despite having 10 out of conference.
This game may come down to which team can prevent the big play and keep the field in front of them.
What really set the two defenses apart are the front lines for each team. Kansas has had trouble pressuring the quarterback all season, and against a Texas Tech offensive line that has only surrendered one sack in seven games, that doesn't seem likely to change.
The front four for Tech have done a good job of getting through the line all season, and against a struggling Kansas offensive line, I expect a lot of situations forcing Reesing to move around.
This just in...Mike Leach has appealed the NCAA and been awarded one year of eligibility, Coach Leach is expected to suit up this weekend at placekicker for Tech, wearing #000.
This game will come down to offensive efficiency. Limit the turnovers and get your playmakers involved for big momentum-shifting gains, and you will win the game.
I expect Crabtree to come out healthy and find holes in the Kansas secondary. The home field advantage will be a big boost to Kansas's hopes, but if your defense can't stop anybody, your crowd can't be too involved...
Texas Tech Wins, 47-34
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