Reason #1: Tough On The Road
If there's anything that last week showed college football fans it's that teams can lose, whether they are at home or on the road. Of the 4 losses from last year, Texas Tech lost 3 of 4 on the road (Oklahoma State, Missouri and Texas). There's no reason why Texas Tech can't lose on the road, just like there's no reason that Michigan can upset Wisconsin, Ole Miss can upset Florida or Alabama can upset Georgia. This is a huge opportunity for Kansas State, a win here against Texas Tech puts them one step closer to being eligible for a bowl and restoring some of the success of a proud program. The bottom line, is that this is a very winnable game for Kansas State and although the Wildcats haven't had the season they expected, it takes one game to turn it around.
Reason #2: Renewed Running Game
Last week, was Lamark Brown's first at running back, and suffice to say, he's pretty good. Brown, a converted receiver, had 29 attempts, 137 yards and a touchdown against La.-Lafayette. Keep in mind that Brown's position change came after the 12 attempts for 30 yards against Louisville. Brown is big (6'3"/225) and I don't think that Texas Tech has faced a back this big this far. Granted, I don't think that Brown has faced a Big 12 defense either, so perhaps that's a push. But given the fact that Brown may be feeling a bit chipper after last week's romping over the Ragin' Cajuns (that's two very funny words to type), I'd expect that Brown is feeling that he can do the same sort of thing against a traditionally porous defense.
Reason #3: Banks is Explosive
This worries me a bit. If there's one thing that I've noticed thus far about Kansas State's Brandon Banks, it's that he's tiny (5'7"/142) but can make some plays (he's averaging, that's right, averaging 21.05 yards per catch and he has 6 touchdowns). I'm not sure that Banks sits outside or in the slot, but if he's outside, the biggest fear that I have is that cornerback Jamar Wall gets beat deep, much like he did against Eastern Washington and against Nevada. Both were plays where Wall was perhaps expecting help from Daniel Charbonnet, but it was either late or just didn't get there. In any event, Wall was soundly beat those times and I think McNeill made a concerted effort to not let that happen against SMU and UMass. As we talked yesterday, the plan is to just keep everything in front of them, but I think Banks shakes free a couple of times during the game and it's on the defensive backfield to make sure that Banks doesn't burn the Red Raiders for huge chunks of yards and touchdowns.
Reason #4: Ian Campbell Can Still Play
I have no doubt that Ian Campbell is still an immensely talented player who is miscast in a 3-4 defense. Although Rylan Reed has faced the absolute best in Chris Long last year, and more than held his own, he also did so on an ankle that wasn't injured until the end of the game. Reed performed as well as could be expected against Long and I'm not sure that Campbell is the exact same type of talent that Long is, he is good, very good. It was only 2006 where Campbell had 17.5 tackles for loss and 11.5 sacks, while absolutely dominating in the Big 12, but last year the coaching staff switched to a 3-4 defense and Campbell's been neutered. Campbell hasn't even come close to being the player he was in 2006 and as of this year, he's still struggling. But that doesn't mean that he's can't still be dominating, especially against Rylan Reed, who just isn't quite 100% despite what he may say. If Campbell gets to Harrell on a consistent basis then I think Harrell has a long day.
Reason #5: The Wildcats Can Still Put Up Points
I'm saying all of this with a grain of salt, because almost no team has played a tough schedule, but Kansas State can still put up points and they're averaging 47.0 points a game thus far. I've never been concerned about Texas Tech's ability to put up points, but when the offense struggles, it puts additional pressure on the defense to perform and I'm not quite sure that this Texas Tech defense is capable of making a huge stand. The Texas Tech defense has always relied on the Texas Tech offense engineer a comeback drive, but at some point, the defense is going to have to make a stand at the end of the game and I'm not sure that this defense has the horses to do that, and at some point against Kansas State a stand will need to be made.
Hat-Tip to the great South Carolina blog, Garnet and Black Attack for the idea.