This weekly feature considers five reasons why Texas Tech will win and five reasons Texas Tech will lose to each opponent. Check back tomorrow for "Five Reasons Texas Tech Will Win :: North Dakota Edition".
Reason #1 :: Big Game for North Dakota: This is absolutely a big game for North Dakota, although this isn't meant to diminish UND's other opponents, but the likes of Northwestern State, Stephen F. Austin, South Dakota, Stony Brook, Sioux Falls, Southern Utah, Cal Poly, Southern Oregon, UC Davis and Central Arakansas doesn't scream huge game. UND has had an entire spring and fall practice to ready themselves for this game and it wouldn't surprise me in the least to see the Fighting Sioux be as sharp as could be expected for a first game. I don't think there's any doubt that the North Dakota coaching staff is telling their players that if they want to be a part of one of the biggest upsets in NCAA history, this would be a prime example.
Reason #2 :: Abundance of Penalties: Who remembers the opening game last year where Texas Tech had an astounding 18 penalties for 169 yards. Texas Tech needs to be sharp. It's been mentioned more than it needs to be mentioned, but the Texas game is merely two weeks away. The Red Raiders have two games to be on their best behavior. Gone are the days where the Red Raiders can rely on an All-American at receiver and a quarterback that routinely passes for over 5,000 yards to pull you out of any hole the offense or defense puts you in because of silly penalties. The offensive line needs to be absolutely sharp, which may be one reason why Terry McDaniel is not getting the initial start at left tackle. The offense needs guys who will not make mistakes. Those mistakes may not hurt you against teams like UND (no offense) but they will be drive and touchdown killers against the likes of Texas.
Reason #3 :: Looking Ahead: I don't know if you can blame any player for looking ahead, especially when the players know the circumstances surrounding this game and the relative inexperience of UND playing on a high level of football. It's only natural for players to look ahead, and I've said this before, but I think it deserves mention again in that no opponent deserves to be dismissed. Just ask Michigan and Appalachian State. Look past an opponent and you'll be sorry that you did. I have a feeling that this may have happened a bit last year against Eastern Washington where the Eagles came ready to play, looked sharp, made sure tackles on defense and put 17 points on the board in the second quarter. And as we speak of looking ahead, this can also be a symptom of . . .
Reason #4 :: Over-Confidence: This type of thing plagues teams all of the time. Players know what they're up against on a week-in and week-out basis. I'd like to think that this Red Raider team respects each and every opponent, that each game is an opportunity to do your job. Putting it simply, if Texas Tech simply does their job, then the idea of being over-confident is completely irrelevant. Doing your job each and every play erases the need to consider the quality of your opponent.
Reason #5 :: Time of Possession: One of the best equalizers in football is time of possession. If the North Dakota offense can keep the Texas Tech offense off the field, then there's a much greater chance for an upset. Last year in the aforementioned Eastern Washington game, the Eagles held onto the ball for 30:34, which certainly affected Texas Tech's chances of putting points on the board and putting this game away more than 49-24. The key will be whether the defense puts pressure on the UND defense, forces three-and-outs and how the defense can create turnovers, much like Darcel McBath and Daniel Charbonnet did all of last year.