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 :: Houston Cougars Edition.
Reason #1 :: Superior Defense: The defense has been much better than expected, and having a really good offense under Texas Tech's belt, I'm starting to think that the Red Raiders may actually be what they are rather than what they have been in previous seasons. It stinks that we're dealing with a small sample size, but thus far, the defense ranks 22nd in total defense, 27th in rush defense and 39th in pass defense. The same week in 2008, after facing Eastern Washington, Nevada and SMU, the defense ranked 79th in total defense, 41st in rushing defense and 105th in pass defense. You could argue about the worth of the opponents, but I think this is the type of improvement that we can see with our eyes as the tackles are more sure, the defenders are getting into the opposing backfield with more frequency.
Reason #2 :: Potential to Break-Out: I've been waiting patiently all year for the running game to emerge. And we're still waiting. At some point, it's going to click. And I don't think this is a running backs issue. I think that Baron Batch will get his issues ironed out, he's too level headed not to, and we've all seen the explosiveness that Eric Stephens and Harrison Jeffers are capable of unleashing on an opponent. It's really just got to click with the offensive line, who hopefully after learning some lessons last week, will figure out that they need to be the dominant players in this game, and that there's no reason they need to take a backseat to any defensive line. They can hold their own, and I truly believe that it's just a matter of time before the running backs take advantage of an over-zealous defense and huge running lanes.
Reason #3 :: Getting Behind the Line: My recent memory isn't so good, but I cannot recall a time that the Texas Tech was doing such a tremendous job of making plays behind the opposing line of scrimmage. As a unit, the defense is 4th in the nation in tackles for a loss, which should appease those of you who constantly beg for a more aggressive defense. Well, it's here, and you may not even realize it. But it's not just the aggressive defense, I think it's also partly the fact that the players are more talented, which completely boggles the mind when you consider that 3 of the top 4 defensive ends were out for the Texas game, but still managed 8 tackles for loss, again only rushing 4 and still containing Colt McCoy and their passing game. Getting behind the line of scrimmage is great, but when you're doing it with just 3 or 4 players then someone is doing something right.
Reason #4 :: Potts Passes Test: I thought last week that QB Taylor Potts could easily crumble against the backdrop of playing in Austin, in front of the largest crowd to see a college football game in Texas. But he didn't fold and he didn't really stutter. There were still mistakes that were made, and we've talked about this too much this week, but it bears mentioning here again, that it's the physical act of picking himself off the ground, picking his team up and taking them on two touchdown drives to keep his team as close as they can be and truly being a leader. Potts has always said that he's not a vocal leader and he's not going to rah-rah his team, but I'll take Potts actually doing it during a game over the speach every day of the week. Let's also not forget that this is the same quarterback that has been accountable for his mistakes early in the season and has seemingly matured beyond his years in a mere 3 games.
Reason #5 :: Stephens on Special Teams: Was everyone else somewhat on the edge of their seats every time that Eric Stephens touched the ball on a kickoff? For those who were at the Rice game, you saw a 94 (I think) yard kickoff return that was a thing of beauty, and right now, Stephens is 20th in the nation in kickoff returns, averaging 29.50 yards a return (again, which doesn't include the called back kickoff return). The guy is absolutely electric, and perhaps Houston will be susceptible to a return considering they gave up an 82 yard punt return to OSU and Dez Bryant. Electric players make electric plays and I get the feeling that Stephens is going to be that sort of player for Texas Tech this year. If Leach & Co. wanted to really make things interesting, I'd go ahead and throw in Harrison Jeffers to pair with Stephens and would think that this combination would be really tough to beat.