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 :: North Dakota Edition.
Reason #1 :: Superior Players: It's not often that you can just make this claim, especially considering the relative parity of today's college football, especially in Texas, and that it just seems that this would wreak DTN being a bit sure of their program. However, North Dakota is in the second year in the jump to Football Championship Series and this Saturday's game is what could be termed as the most high profile game for the Fighting Sioux. Previously, the Fighting Sioux were Division II (albeit a very good to excellent program in Division II), but were only 6-4 last year. I don't like predicting blow-outs because I hate underestimating the opponent (hence the "Five Reasons Texas Tech Will Lose" posted yesterday), but facing Texas Tech seems like a huge uphill climb for UND.
Reason #2 :: Reliance on the Running Game: In a game like this one, there's two schools of thought. On one hand, I think you have Captain Leach wanting to make sure that his passing offense sees plenty of repetitions in order to be properly prepared for the Rice game next week. The other school of thought is for the running game to take control of this game, early and often and take some time off the clock. If this game turns out like I think, it wouldn't surprise me at all to see 30 to 40 touches by the running backs by the end of the game. I think this game will also tell us quite a bit about the fate of the running backs and perhaps a semblance of a rotation and answer some questions. I think we're all curious about whether or not Eric Stephens will redshirt this year and how will Leach & Co. rotate Batch coming off a fall camp shoulder injury (i.e. should he really play at all) and how many carries will Harrison Jeffers receive, as well as how game-ready is Aaron Crawford.
Reason #3 :: Solid, Yet Not Spectacular Defense: This isn't exactly a ringing endorsement for the defense, but I don't think that anyone believes that the Red Raiders have a dominating defense. For me personally, I know Texas Tech does not, but that's not to say that Texas Tech cannot have a good defense. Not great, just solid. By playing a second year FCS team, you'd have to think that you'll see huge doses of Ruffin McNeill just letting his athletes win the individual battles and not give up any big yards. I have no doubt that the defensive line will win the battles up front and the second team should prove to be incredibly effective against UND and so long as Texas Tech can win this battle, then there shouldn't be much to discuss on Sunday. Again, it will be interesting to see who gets in the game and who doesn't from a rotation standpoint, although I'm expecting we'll see a bevy of defensive players.
Reason #4 :: North Dakota Inexperience: When you look at what returns for UND, you can't help but note that the Fighting Sioux are woefully inexperienced in a number of important key positions. Leaving the defense out of the conversation all together, the offense is what's lacking. Last year's leading rusher, Josh Murray is no longer with the team. Last year's quarterback graduated I believe the top receivers graduated. That leaves UND with a returning quarterback with 4 passes last year, a running back with 21 carries last year and the leading returing receiver had 21 catches. Now, this offense has got to keep pace with a Texas Tech offense that averaged over 40 points a game last year.
Reason #5 :: Pressure Offense: Speaking of scoring 40 points a game, I think I'd be remiss if I didn't mention the fact that there's the idea that the Texas Tech offense is going to be moving at a fast pace and it's going to be upt to the UND defense to push Texas Tech back on their heels. Having never watched a UND game, I'm not sure that this is an accurate statement and the proliferation of spread offenses is everywhere, but the Texas Tech offense is being run by one of the originators of the spread and I get the feeling that Leach is going to want to put UND back on their heels very early.