Texas Tech-Oklahoma State: Gearing Up for a West Texas Shootout

Andrew GloverCorrespondent INovember 7, 2008

The last time the Texas Tech Red Raiders and the Oklahoma State Cowboys played, it was crazy.

The offenses combined for 1,328 total yards. Graham Harrell had 646 yards passing and five touchdowns. Zac Robinson, Dantrell Savage, and Kendall Hunter each had over a 100 yards rushing and at least one touchdown in a 49-45 Oklahoma State victory.

There was a shootout in the post game press conferences with Tech coach Mike Leach and Oklahoma State coach Mike Gundy.

Leach was upset about his offense not being physical, and Gundy was upset about what a columnist wrote about former Cowboys’ quarterback Bobby Reid.

"We got hit in the mouth and acted like somebody took our lunch money," Leach said during his press conference, "and all we wanted to do was have pouty expressions on our face until somebody dabbed our little tears off and made us (expletive) feel better."

"Where are we at in society today?" Gundy said in that press conference. "Come after me! I'm a man! I'm 40! I'm not a kid; write something about me or our coaches."

Now things have changed since that day in Stillwater. Tech (9-0) has a new defensive coordinator Ruffin McNeill, who took over after that game last season and has significantly improved the defense, which has helped Tech to be No. 2 in the nation.

The Cowboys knocked off then-No. 3 Missouri and played a close game against then-No. 1 Texas. At 8-1, they find themselves No. 9 in the nation.

Harrell for the third straight season has put up impressive numbers leading him to be a semifinalist for the Davy O’Brien award and is in the Heisman race.

Last week against No. 1 Texas, Harrell completed 36 passes for 474 yards and two touchdowns, including a game-winning 28-yard touchdown pass to Michael Crabtree with one second left. Harrell will need to make smart decisions against an Oklahoma State defense that likes to blitz.

Shannon Woods and Baron Batch have provided a strong one-two punch for the Red Raiders. They have combined for 189 carries for 1,140 yards rushing and 15 touchdowns. Batch and Woods are contributors to the passing game as well.

Batch has 324 yards receiving, averaging 12 yards per reception and one touchdown. Woods has 190 yards receiving, averaging just less than 12 yards per reception. In addition, both backs can block; so they can be helpful in keeping Harrell on his feet.

The Tech receivers are hard to defend because so many of them get catches. In last week’s game against Texas, Harrell threw the ball to nine different receivers.

Four of those had over 50 yards receiving. Crabtree had 10 receptions for 127 yards and one touchdown. Edward Britton had seven receptions for 139 yards, Detron Lewis and five receptions for 58 yards and Tramain Swindall had two receptions for 52 yards.

Oklahoma State’s secondary will have to contain Tech’s receivers and limit the number of yards gained. The Cowboys defense will have to watch out for Eric Morris and Crabtree taking snaps.

The Red Raiders’ defense was strong last week. They held Colt McCoy, who averages 51 yards per game, to 16 on 13 carries, sacking the Longhorns quarterback four times.

The defense also scored nine points. They got a safety on Texas first possession of the game and Daniel Charbonnet returned a McCoy interception 18 yards for a touchdown.

The key for the defense is just as they contained McCoy, they will have to contain Robinson. Last year, Robinson had 13 carries for 116 yards including a 48-yard touchdown run.

In addition, the Tech secondary cannot be burned for long receptions. Last week against Texas, they allowed Malcolm Williams 91- and 37-yard receptions.

Another key for Tech is keeping the fire they had against Texas. While this week is another big game for the Red Raiders, it does not have as much hype as last week.

College Gameday is in Baton Rouge, La. With less hype, Tech still has to perform strong to keep their BCS hopes alive.

For the Cowboys, Robinson is having a great season himself. Robinson is second in quarterback rating (192.46), 24th in passing yards (2,082), eighth in completion percentage (69.0) and 12th in touchdown passes (20). Robinson will have to limit mistakes and keep the Red Raiders’ defensive line from getting to him.

Hunter is one of the nation's leading rushers. Hunter is fourth in rushing yards (1,220), 19th in yards per carry (6.7), and tied for 14th in rushing touchdowns (11).

Other contributors to the running game include Keith Toston, who has 565 yards on 76 carries and eight touchdowns. If Hunter can have a performance similar to last season, the Tech defense could be in for a long day.

Dez Bryant is one of the nation's dominating receivers. He is second in receiving yards (1,054), tied for 16th in receptions (60), 21st in yards per reception (17.6), and tied for first in touchdowns with 15.

If Bryant can get open for long gains, Oklahoma State can put many points on the board. Brandon Pettigrew, who scored the game-winning touchdown last season, has 236 yards on 21 receptions.

The key for Oklahoma State’s defense is getting pressure on Harrell and limiting his receivers’ yards. In addition, the Cowboys have to limit Woods and Batch, and force Harrell to throw the ball more.

The other major key will be allowing the Red Raiders less than seven points on drives. The Cowboys are 61st in yards per game (357.4), 36th in rushing yards per game (116.9), 93rd in pass yards per game (240.6), and 41st in points allowed per game.

Just like last season, this game should be an offensive shootout but with a lot more at stake. No. 2 Tech will try to move one win closer to the Big XII South title, and No. 9 Oklahoma State will try to stay in the race.



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