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 :: Oklahoma St. Cowboys Edition Edition.
Reason #1 :: Bye Week Rest: It's rare that a team gets a entire week to get healthy this late in the year. I can't be totally sure, but perhaps this season more than others, the team needed a break. I do not want to try to exaggerate the strain of a collegiate football player and his studies, but I'm sure it's not easy. Couple that with the fact that there's a certain level of focus that's required each and every week (some weeks more than other -- ahem). There's no doubt that the actual time away from the field helped heal those nagging injuries that kept out Brett Dewhurst, Will Ford, Brandon Carter, and getting Steven Sheffield back to a point where he's practicing with the team. And hopefully this week, the team is anxious and excited to get back on the field. Absence makes the heart grow fonder, or somesuch. All I know is that there's no excuse for this team not to be 100% ready to play on Saturday.
Reason #2 :: Deferring to the Run: After the Kansas game, there was quite a bit of credit given to QB Taylor Potts making the right call at the line of scrimmage to simply give the ball to RB Baron Batch for huge gains and essentially breaking that game open. I think it was great to see the team give credit where credit was due, and if there was any situation where the team may have suffered some discension amongst it's players, I got the feeling that the team rallied for Potts. If there was ever a case where the entire offense must work together in order to make the right calls and reads, it was the 2nd half against Kansas. If one part of that process fails, then the plays don't happen, the blocks do not get blocked and the offense forces plays where it's not necessary. I don't think anyone could have guessed that the arrival of Potts in the 2nd half of the Kansas may have been the seminal moment where the team decided to come together, but I'd be pretty happy if it was.
Reason #3 :: Wearing Them Down: I'm going out on a limb here, but this is an optimistic look, right? In any event, one of the biggest issues that this team has had all year is the health of the defensive line, in particular the defensive ends. If it's not one of the 3 of Daniel Howard, Brandon Sharpe or Rajon Henley, it's sometimes been 2 of them. But this week, all 3 players are healthy, along with LB Bront Bird, who will and could see plenty of time in the hybrid/joker position, you've got at the very least an opportunity to wear down the Cowboys offensive line. I haven't watched enough Oklahoma St. football to know if they've faced 3 very solid pass rushers in the Texas Tech trio. I've said it 100 times on DTN, but this group may not make an immediate impact, but I think that at some point they'll out-work the OSU offensive line. I'm hoping like hell that there's still a bit of chip on their shoulder for the TAMU performance and they constantly work and force OSU into some mistakes.
Reason #4 :: Big Time Playmakers: The Oklahoma St. team seems to me to be a bunch of grinders, which can be both blessing and a curse. The Cowboys were robbed of the two offensive players that were going to be difference makers for them this year, although it appears that RB Kendall Hunter is becoming more healthy by the minute. The thing about both units is that I don't think that there's a player on either side of the ball, sans Okung, who I think can dominate a game or who scares the piss out of me from a big play perspective. If you make a comparison with the Texas Tech offense or defnese, I think you could make the case that the Texas Tech offense has a handful of potential playmakers and the defense has their stalwarts as well. That's not to say that the Cowboys don't have players that can't or won't make play, but with the loss of Bryant and the loss of Hunter for most of the year, I think the OSU offense has lacked a certain punch and that lack of punch has me feeling confident.
Reason #5 :: Tough Losses at Home: Oklahoma St. has had a rough go at it at home against ranked teams this year. The 2 OSU losses were to both Houston and Texas. You'd think that perhaps this trend is to say that OSU doesn't want to lose at home again, but perhaps the truth of the matter might be that OSU might not be as tough at home as other Big 12 opponents. Obviously, these 2 losses were to 2 very talented teams, the Red Raiders can certainly attest to that, but OSU lost 3 fumbles and threw another interception against Houston and had 1 lost fumble and 4 interceptions against Texas. Not surprisingly, OSU lost 2 of the 3 games where the Cowboys had a negative turnover margin (the lone win was against Grambling). Perhaps most of all, the worrisome part for Pokes is that in those big games, you've got to value the ball and every possession. I'm not completely convinced that Oklahoma St. has figured this out.