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 :: Nebraska Cornhuskers Edition.
Reason #1 :: Force Turnovers: This will be a difficult task for Texas Tech as Nebraska has only turned the ball over 5 times the entire season. Winning on the road is invariably easier when you can force a turnover and create a drive where Nebraska cannot eat up the clock and also create a potential score. QB Zac Lee has been incredibly careful with the ball thus far and he's a big part of the reason why Nebraska is winning games. The defense should be at full-strength on Saturday and I think the fact that so many players had to play while other players were recovering from injuries should help out as there's the expectation that the Nebraska offense will look to dominate the 4th quarter. I have no doubt that this defense is capable, especially when you have senior leaders like CB Jamar Wall, and DE Daniel Howard leading the way. I also wouldn't be at all surprised by an appearance by the relatively quiet DT Colby Whitlock, who seems to show up for big games.
Reason #2 :: Prepare for Suh: The play where Texas DE Sergio Kindle flat-out beat RT Marlon Winn to level QB Taylor Potts is still burned in my brain, and I hope like hell it's burned in Winn's brain as well. Winn took that play off, and to give credit to Kindle, Winn just couldn't keep pace with him on that play either. Earlier this week, OL coach Moore stated that RG Brandon Carter will see 95% of Ndamukong Suh and I too think that because the wide-splits, it's tougher to double-team an interior defender rather than an outside rusher. No matter who has who, all I really want out of this offensive line is for players to not take one play off the entire game. I'm not sure they can afford to do so, but to the running backs who chip to the linemen themselves, I think this is going to have to be a complete game for this unit and I think they're more than capable.
Reason #3 :: Take What's There, Unless You Feel Like You Need to Take a Chance: This is really up to QB Steven Sheffield and Mike Leach. As I watched last week's game with my brother-in-law, we both thought that there were a couple of pass plays that had the defensive backs played better angles or been better athletes, that Sheffield could have been in danger of throwing a few extra picks. Conversely, this might be a credit to Sheffield, who had a bead on the defenders and knew exactly what he was doing. There's a fine balance between a quarterback that takes unnecessary chances and a quarterback that takes what the defense gives him. Finding that balance can be tough, and Leach and his Red Raiders have typically prided themselves on being able to take chances and live with the consequences, but I'd like for Leach and Sheffield to keep it simple. Check down to the run, even if it doesn't net 8 yards a carry. If Nebraska is playing a cover-2 then get underneath and get the receivers to block the hell out of the defensive backs.
Reason #4 :: Play-Makers Make Plays: Last year I found myself in a bit of a rut as I wrote this series, mainly because I could have said each week, "Because Texas Tech Has Mr. Crabtree." There were plenty of questions as to whether or not Texas Tech would be able to duplicate last year's results and I'd say that with the 2nd ranked offense in the country, the Red Raiders seem fine. We've talked about this for a few weeks now, but the list of potential play-makers continues to grow each week. Early in the season, some were convinced that Eric Stephens would supplant Harrison Jeffers. Now those roles are reversed. Some thought that Detron Lewis would be the Crabtree-Replacement, but it's been Tramain Swindall, Lyle Leong, Jacoby Franks, Alexander Torres, etc. There's quite a few targets out there and I'm extremely interested to see if and who Nebraska decides to double-team. If that happens, there's going to be a man advantage and as stated above, I think Texas Tech might have the best blocking receivers in football.
Reason #5 :: Coaching to Win: I've wondered this since the Houston game, where Leach was faced with the proposition of taking the points or going for the gusto. Initially, Leach said that he should have gone for the points, but in retrospect, he later said that he would go for the gusto, but call a different play. I'm perfectly comfortable living with a guy like Leach playing unconventionally. After I've thought about it, it's almost like going for a 2-point conversion for a win at the end of the game. Sometimes you just have to put yourselves out there and that one play can be a tremendous measuring stick of where your team sits. Despite the gusto, I hope that Leach has learned somewhat of a lesson in that sometimes, it's okay to take the points. I don't want Leach to out-smart himself here, but sometimes taking the points isn't such a bad thing and I want to think that Leach is okay with taking the points in certain situations.