This Saturday's storyline is all about taking the next step. With wins versus an FCS opponent, a lower level FBS opponent and the meat of the schedule now upon us, it is time for the Red Raiders to show us they are an improved team, so this week's storyline is:
There are several things working against the Red Raiders as they head to Fayetteville. First off, the worst thing that could have happened for the Red Raiders did happen last week when Toledo beat Arkansas. The mood in Fayetteville is foul to say the least. They are ready to prove they are still worthy of their preseason ranking and that starts with pounding the Red Raiders into submission. They didn't run the ball effectively versus Toledo and are looking to get there running game back on track. Their offensive coordinator Dan Enos had this to say to reporters on Monday about their running game.
"We're going to get that done. We're going to emphasize the heck out of it here and make it so it's super important here going forward these next few days, and I think we'll see some better results Saturday and moving forward."
This leads to the second thing working against the Red Raiders which is the Arkansas matchup is a tough one for Tech. They are a ground and pound team who likes to control the clock. They like to keep the ball out of the opponent's hands. This works against Tech's offense which is built around rhythm and scoring quickly.
Lastly, the game is on the road. Tech's last true, noteworthy road win was almost two years ago in Morgantown versus West Virginia. That game was in October of 2013. Since then Tech has only beaten UTEP and Iowa State on the road.
With all that working against them, if the Red Raiders can pull off the win on Saturday they will prove they have improved and are ready to compete with the bigger fish in the Big 12 this season.
Prediction: I want to believe this team has improved enough to stroll into Fayetteville and come out with a win. The offense is better this season. This year's defense has shown the ability to turn teams over and improve from the first half to the second half. Having said all that, I just cannot pull then trigger on calling the upset. My prediction is Hogs - 38, Red Raiders - 28. The silver lining is that even with the loss this team shows it can compete with better teams. Ultimately they pull an upset or two over the remaining nine games, but this isn't one of them.