This weekly feature considers five reasons why Texas Tech will win and five reasons Texas Tech will lose to each opponent. Related: Five Reasons Texas Tech Will Lose :: Kansas St. Wildcats Edition.
Reason #1 :: The Sheffield Spark: There's no doubt that QB Steven Sheffield provided a needed spark in the wanning seconds of the first half, driving the team 86 yards in 0:56 seconds, completing passes for 12, 17, 25 and 32 yards, eventually resulting in a touchdown to WR Alexander Torres. The start of the second half was equally as strong as Sheffield led the team to 3 straight touchdowns. The problem with having that energy is that it can sometimes be difficult to maintain for such a long period of time. A fumble, interception and punting the ball on the next 3 drives before getting two additional scores late. I'm somewhat of an "even keel" sort of guy, although I can appreciate the energy Sheffield brings to the team and I'm hoping that same spark continues this week as well.
Reason #2 :: Stuffing the Run: Despite what we thought was a rough week last week against New Mexico (giving up 115 yards on 35 carries) the rush defense has really been pretty damned good this year, good for 4th in the conference, and is 4th in the conference in yards per attempt. But for the year, the Red Raiders limited Texas, who is averaging 200 yards a game, to 135, while Rice and North Dakota failed to muster more than 135 yards combined. The one "bad" game was Houston, where Texas Tech allowed 144 yards on the ground. KSU QB Grant Gregory is similar to Case Keenum in the sense that he can run with the ball, however, I'm guessing that the Red Raiders and Ruffin McNeill have learned their lesson in allowing quarterbacks to kill you on 3rd downs and would look for a little better containment from the defensive line.
Reason #3 :: Cohesive O-Line: The return of RG Brandon Carter is going to be huge for the line. As much promise as guys like Lonnie Edwards and Mickey Okafor have, they're not quite ready for prime-time, but I feel pretty good about the rest of the group. LT Terry McDaniel is learning on the run and although he did have a holding call last week, he didn't give up a sack and looked pretty solid. The loss of C Shawn Byrnes was significant last week, but the more I consider this, I think Justin Keown is going to be fine, that it's just a matter of making the right call and having an entire week with the first team will help him significantly.
Reason #4 :: Playmakers: Last week there were a number of plays for 20 yards or more: 79 yards to WR Tramain Swindall (TD); 32 yards to WR Detron Lewis; 32 yards to Swindall; 25 yards to WR Alexander Torres (TD); 20 yards to Lewis; and 62 yards to RB Harrison Jeffers (TD). That's 6 plays for 20 yards or longer, 3 of which went for touchdowns. I've sort of bemoaned the idea that this club doesn't have a ton of playmakers in this group, but that's really not an accurate statement. Watching Jeffers makes all of us realize that he's a guy that needs to have the ball in his hands as he has the ability to make plays, but I won't sleep on Swindall any time soon. Since he was benched for the first game, he's leading this team with a little over 90 yards a game.
Reason #5 :: Struggle to Score: The Kansas State Wildcats have truly struggled to score this year and are dead-last in the Big 12 in scoring offense at 23.6 points a game. There are some interesting splits as well in that in KSU's two road games, they're averaging only 12.0 points a game, while averaging 35.0 at home. The one score that's swaying the 23.6 average, being the 49 points put up against Tennessee Tech (this happens against all non-conference opponents, so Texas Tech is in the same boat). If the Red Raiders can hold Kansas St. to their average and the Red Raiders do their thang offensively (and not turn the ball over, please do not turn the ball over), then there's not any reason this shouldn't be a 14 point affair in favor of Texas Tech.