The No. 24 Texas A&M Aggies will take on the Texas Tech Red Raiders at 6 PM at Jones Stadium in Lubbock on Saturday.
Texas A&M is 2-2 and coming off a 42-38 loss to Arkansas. For the second week in a row the Ags gave up a large halftime lead and were unable to get a defensive stop late in the fourth quarter to win the game. The Aggies are 0-1 in the Big 12.
Tech is 4-0 after their 45-34 comeback victory over Kansas. The Red Raiders came back from a 20-point deficit to beat the Jayhawks. The week before against Nevada, the Red Raiders were able to overcome a 14-point third quarter deficit. Tech is 1-0 in the conference.
If the Aggies want to compete for the conference title in their last year in the Big 12, then this game is a must-win. The Aggies need the victory to end their two-game slide and get some confidence back as a team.
The Ags faced a similar situation in 2009. A&M had started the season 3-0 but lost three straight capped of by a 62-14 blowout loss at Kansas State. The Aggies traveled to Lubbock and blew out the Red Raiders 52-30 as Christine Michael and Cyrus Gray both rushed for over 100 yards in Mike Leach's last season at Tech.
The game in Lubbock also represents the last time the Aggies are likely to play Texas Tech for a long time.The Aggies will not schedule Tech as a non-conference game after joining the Southeastern Conference in 2012.
When Tech Is On Offense
The Red Raiders are averaging 47.2 points per game with a relatively balanced offense. Tech is running the ball for 179.5 yards per game. Tech has their typical high octane passing offense averaging 345.5 yards per game.
Tech is basically a poor man's Oklahoma State. Their offense is not quite as explosive, and they do not have the same skill position talent that the Cowboys do. The run the spread like Oklahoma State does and are running the ball with a lot of success this year.
The Tech offense is led by quarterback Seth Doege. The junior from Wolfforth, TX is completing a little over 73 percent of his passes for 328.8 yards per game. He has thrown 14 touchdowns and has only tossed one interception. Doege did not play his last two years of high school due to injury. The A&M game will be Doege's sixth career start in college.
Eric Stephens is leading the Tech ground attack with 117 yards per game. The junior tailback has deceptive strength for his 5'8" frame. He is extremely quick and is adept at catching the ball out of the backfield with 13 receptions on the year.
Blinn Junior College transfer Darrin Moore leads Tech in receiving. Moore has 21 receptions on the season for 339 yards and four touchdowns. Moore burst onto the scene with 12 receptions for 221 yards and a touchdown in his first game at Tech against Texas State. Moore has had nine catches for 128 yards since that game.
Eric Ward has 20 receptions for 215 yards and leads Tech with seven touchdown receptions. Alex Torres might be the most physically gifted Tech receiver and is third on the team with 15 receptions for 166 yards.
Tech does not have the one elite receiver like Oklahoma State does in Justin Blackmon, nor the quality in numbers that Arkansas had at the wide receiver position. The have good solid receivers but lack the wow factor of the last two teams that Ags have faced.
When Texas Tech Is On Defense
The Red Raiders brought in defensive coordinator Chad Glasgow from TCU to bring the 4-2-5 defense to Lubbock. Tech has struggled to adjust to this scheme and has allowed every team they have faced to move the ball.
Tech is allowing 229 yards rushing per game and an average of five yards per carry. They have not been able to stop the run even against weaker opponents like Texas State.
The Red Raider defense is a little better against the pass allowing a 53 percent completion rate and 198 yards per game.
Junior safety D.J. Johnson leads the Red Raider defense with 26 tackles and two interceptions.
Tech has a couple of good young defensive ends who lead their DL. Sophomore Dartwan Bush is tied for the team lead with three tackles for loss and a sack on the season. Red-shirt freshman Jackson Richards was a highly thought of recruit who has 1.5 tackles for loss and a sack through four games.
Terrance Bullitt is a familiar name to Aggies. Bullitt's older brother Melvin played CB and safety at A&M and now stars for the Indianapolis Colts. Bullitt is the fifth DB on the field who will play a hybrid safety/linebacker position. He will spend a lot of time near the line of scrimmage as the seventh man in the box.
Freshman Blake Dees is Tech's best linebacker. He has 18 tackles, three tackles for loss and an interception on the season.
When A&M Is On Offense
Texas A&M's offensive line outweighs the Tech defensive ends by over 50 pounds per man. The Aggies should be able to run on the Red Raiders just like every other team has this season. The Aggies need to control the line of scrimmage and try to eat up as much clock as possible in order to keep their defense on the sideline.
Tech does not have any elite defensive backs and their secondary should struggle to match up with A&M's wide receivers. The Aggies need to throw the ball down the middle of the field to their tight ends and use a ball control passing game to move the chains.
The Aggies do not want to get into a track meet with Tech in Lubbock. The offense needs to be methodical in order to protect the defense. The offense needs to be run heavy and must avoid turnovers.
When A&M Is On Defense
The Ags lead the nation in sacks but it is very hard to get to Doege in this spread attack. The front seven will need to be able to put consistent pressure on Doege to disrupt his rhythm. The defense has to break their trend and force turnovers this game.
Tech is good at running the ball, but they are nowhere near as talented as Oklahoma State was on the offensive line. The Aggies need to control their running game, but the threat of Tech's running backs coming out of the backfield in the passing game is a much bigger concern.
The Ags simply need to execute. They need to be sure tacklers and get off the field.
A lot of young players on defense will see extensive action for the first time. Expect to see Toney Hurd and Howard Matthews at safety. Also do not be surprised is Floyd Raven or Deshazor Everett see action at corner back.
The Aggies need their young players to play well in their first extensive action of their careers in the first true road game of the year.
The Aggies need to force some turnovers in this game. They cannot lose the turnover battle and expect to win on the road.
This is an interesting matchup because you have arguably the worst second-half team in the nation in A&M going up against a Tech team that has come back in the second half to win three of their four games this season.
Tech is not as good as the Oklahoma State team that A&M had on the ropes but could not finish. Tech is undefeated but has struggled to beat some poor football teams. Like the majority of the Big 12 this year Tech has an explosive offense but a very poor defense.
I think A&M puts four quarters of good football together this week and wins a game that they should win.
Texas A&M 44 Texas Tech 24