Electric… the word doesn’t begin to describe the feeling in Lubbock, Texas. The crowd is beyond excited and no one is even allowed inside the stadium yet. As of 10:20 CST Thursday evening, there are 2,050 students camping out to make sure they get inside the stadium for this game. To say this is a monumental time for Texas Tech is a gross understatement. Emotion is palpable in the air and every facet of Lubbock is ready for this historic occasion.
Colt McCoy leads Texas’ offense. The junior from Tuscola has completed 198-242 passes (81.8%) for 2,285 yards with 21 TDs and 4 INTs. McCoy utilizes a passing attack that features short passes to athletic receivers who are relied upon to do most of the work on their own. McCoy is also adept at using his athletic ability to keep plays alive by scrambling to find open receivers or running the ball. McCoy also leads UT in rushing with 80 carries for 412 yards (5.2 YPC) and 7 TDs.
After McCoy, former fullback Chris Ogbonnaya is a weapon in the run game. He has 55 carries for 309 yards (5.6 YPC) and 3 TDs. Vondrell McGee has 64 carries for 270 yards (4.2 YPC) and 2 scores. Cody Johnson leads UT in rushing scores with 60 carries for 216 yards (3.6 YPC) and 10 TDs.
The Longhorns have two go-to receivers in Jordan Shipley and Quan Cosby. Shipley paces the WR’s with 58 catches for 737 yards (12.7 YPC) and 10 TDs. Cosby is next with 56 catches for 688 yards (12.3 YPC) with 4 TDs. RB Ogbonnaya has 32 catches for 412 yards (12.9 YPC) and 3 TDs. Blaine Irby, James Kirkendoll, Malcolm Williams, and Dan Buckner have combined for 39 receptions and 6 TDs.
Texas Tech Passing:
Graham Harrell has one final shot at the Longhorns. The senior has been impressive this season and, once again leads the nation in passing yards. Harrell has completed 256-360 passes (71.1%) for 3,147 yards with 28 TDs and 5 INTs. Harrell has also improved his running. He has 20 rushes for 14 yards and 6 scores on the season.
Texas Tech Rushing:
Shannon Woods paces the Red Raiders’ run game with 92 carries for 481 yards (5.2 YPC) with 10 TDs. Baron Batch leads the Raiders in yards per carry. He has 72 carries for 537 yards (7.5 YPC) and 4 TDs. WR Eric Morris has 6 carries for 34 yards and 2 TDs. Injured sophomore Aaron Crawford has 8 carries for 26 yards and 1 score.
Texas Tech Receiving:
Michael Crabtree leads Texas Tech WR corps. The reigning Biletnikoff Award winner has 60 catches for 794 yards (13.2 YPC) and 14 TDs. Detron Lewis has 45 catches for 579 yards (12.9 YPC) and 1 TD. Eric Morris has 42 catches for 452 yards (10.8 YPC) and 4 TDs this season. Edward Britton, coming off a breakout performance against Kansas, has 20 catches for 322 yards (16.1 YPC) and 3 TDs.
Tramain Swindall, Baron Batch, Shannon Woods, Adam James, Lyle Leong, Rashad Hawk, Jacoby Franks, Todd Walker, Aaron Crawford, and Ryan Hale have combined for 104 catches and 7 TDs.
Mike Leach and his crew have a definite advantage in this one. The Red Raiders are hosting the game and the impact of this cannot be overstated. Outside of the “neutral field” OU game in Dallas, the other ranked team UT has played have been in the friendly confines of Darrell K. Royal Memorial Stadium in Austin.
Jones AT&T Stadium in Lubbock presents a different animal for the Longhorns. The stadium will be full, no doubt. But the stadium will also hold 70 years of collective anticipation and yearning from Texas Tech fans.
Mike Leach has slowly won over media pundits and elite recruits alike. Texas Tech’s head man stands ready to lead his prairie pirates against a tested but tired juggernaut. Don’t give Mack Brown and the Longhorns the BCS National Championship just yet.
Why Texas Will Win:
· QB Colt McCoy has been beyond razor-sharp in his passing this season. McCoy’s completion percentage of 81.8 leads the Big 12 and the country.
· With tough games against Oklahoma, Missouri and Oklahoma State behind them, Texas knows what to do in big games.
· Will Muschamp has energized a talented group of players that comprise UT’s defense. Their rankings aren’t great, but no team would have solid stats after surviving the teams they have already played.
· UT has quality depth at many positions. Having one of the nation’s best recruiting classes year after year builds depth. Talented players who are ready to go into the game at a moment’s notice are vital in a knockdown, drag out fight like many are expecting Saturday evening.
· Rankings—the Longhorns have dealt with the pressure of having a large target on their backs since the end of the Oklahoma game on October 11th.
Why Texas Tech Will Win:
· The finest college football coach lives and works in Texas, the best quarterback plays in Texas and the best offensive line in college football plays in Texas. However, this trinity belongs to Texas Tech University, not the University of Texas. Mike Leach and his staff have assembled the best team West Texas has seen in since 1938. Graham Harrell, protected by his stalwart offensive line, leads a potent offense destined to wreak havoc on the undermanned UT secondary.
· Texas Tech features extremely talented players at WR. This is important when discussing Texas’ well-documented problems in defending the pass. Michael Crabtree, Eric Morris, Detron Lewis, Edward Britton, Lyle Leong and the rest of Tech’s receivers are ready for the challenge of facing the nation’s top ranked team.
· Texas Tech has a running game. In previous seasons, Texas Tech was content to use its running backs as safety valves. Now, the Red Raiders have two bona fide game breakers in Shannon Woods and Baron Batch. Both excel at handling blitzing defenders as well.
· Graham Harrell’s decision making is excellent. The senior from Ennis has been impeccable in getting into the right play. In addition, he has shown remarkable poise in avoiding defenders looking to knock him to the turf.
· Texas Tech’s defense is under-rated. Ruffin McNeill’s group has heard the detractors since Mike Leach arrived in Lubbock. This group is different—they are talented up front and can pressure opposing QB’s using only the defensive linemen. The young but talented linebackers are solid tacklers and decent cover men, and the experienced secondary has given the ball back to Harrell and company 14 times this season.