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Texas Tech looks to get its first Big 12 road victory in Lawrence

You just can’t afford to lose this one. You simply can’t.

Iowa State v Texas Tech Photo by John E. Moore III/Getty Images

As soon as you are able, woman I am willing,

To make the break that we are on the brink of.

My cup is on the table, my love is spilling,

Waiting here for you to take a drink of.

So if you’re tired of the same old story,

Oh, turn some pages.

I will be here when you are ready,

To roll with the changes, yeah, yeah.

Really thought I’d use a Kansas song…because, obviously. But I just couldn’t get myself to say this season is just Dust in the Wind.

I’ve always thought REO Speedwagon is a good baseline band to help introduce folks who don’t like classic rock because they illicit the “Hey, I’ve heard that song somewhere before” type feelings. REO Speedwagon has a lot of well-known hits you’ve heard before (Can’t Fight this Feeling, Take it on the Run), but also a good mix of good deep cuts like the one I have referenced above off their uniquely titled album “You Can Tune a Piano but You Can’t Tuna Fish”.

Looking for a bright side to the loss last Saturday? The Tech offense has played against three of the top four defenses in the Big 12, and in my opinion, they are *technically* 1-2 in those matchups. The defenses you face from here on out are more like the Oklahoma State defense and less like the Iowa State one you faced last week.

It’s time to turn some pages. The season can still be a success, as there are still five games in which you should be able to compete and be in every quarter. If Tech can roll with the changes week-to-week and play their butts off, bowl eligibility is in their grasp. And it all starts this week against the Kansas Jayhawks.

First Down - The Enemy:

NCAA Football: West Virginia at Kansas Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports

Kansas AD Jeff Long wasted no time when he showed up in Lawrence in 2018. After firing David Beatty for another miserable season, he shocked the college football world by luring Les Miles out of retirement to come coach the decade-long dumpster fire that is Kansas football. While I’m still very skeptical of this hire, Les Miles is one heck of a recruiter and has a national championship to his name…something no other coach in the conference has.

I predicted this Kansas team would upset a Big 12 team this season, and boy, I really thought I had it last Saturday. With Kansas looking prime to upset the Longhorns in Austin, the Longhorns found themselves smart enough to hit a game winning field goal to win 50-48. Good thing this game was on the very obscure Longhorn Network. The nation would’ve seen a really bad Texas defense get thoroughly exposed by a 21-point underdog in Austin on television, and we cannot allow that kind of tomfoolery in this here conference, right?

NCAA Football: Kansas at Texas Scott Wachter-USA TODAY Sports

Kansas was able to move the ball at-will last week on the Texas defense, which was a stark contrast to the team that punted nine times against TCU. While I don’t think it’s fair to the Jayhawks to suggest this is just an outlier, the facts are KU was coming off a bye week with a new offensive coordinator and caught Texas after an emotional rivalry game loss and a really banged up defense. Really, it isn’t too far off to say last Saturday was the combination of a perfect storm in favor of the Jayhawks…and yet, they still couldn’t close the deal.

Nevertheless, Kansas has found some sort of confidence now, and that can prove to be a bit scary for Tech on Saturday night.

Second Down - Key Players:

NCAA Football: Kansas at Texas Scott Wachter-USA TODAY Sports

Senior quarterback Carter Stanley showed some guts in the game last week and boy, if you give him a window of opportunity for his confidence to show, he’ll make you pay. He’s been pretty solid all year but last week he was really good, hitting 27 of his 47 total passes for 310 yards and four touchdowns. On the season, Stanley has a stat line that reads much like Charlie Brewer’s, completing 63% of his passes with 16 touchdowns and 4 interceptions. Like Brewer, he may not be flashy, but he takes care of the football.

NCAA Football: Coastal Carolina at Kansas Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports

Running back Pooka Williams Jr. is their best offensive player with the knack of breaking tackles and ankles routinely on every play. Williams was utilized more on the perimeter and in space last week and the results were tremendous as he logged 25 carries for 190 yards and two touchdowns in Austin. Wide receiver Stephon Robinson led the Jayhawks in receptions last week, but don’t sleep on Andrew Parchment, who is a lanky receiver who can win one-on-one battles and Daylon Charlot, who played in the Under Armour All-American game in high school and transferred from Alabama.

On the defensive side of the ball, it looks as though Kansas favors a true three-down lineman look with a rush linebacker. That rush linebacker is Azur Kamara, who along with fellow linebacker Dru Pox (30 solo tackles, 2.5 TFL and 2 sacks) are probably Kansas’ best defenders. I don’t think you can count out Bryce Torneden (32 solo tackles and 3 TFL), who plays a hybrid safety/linebacker role, which was huge in limiting Tech’s offense last week against Iowa State. It should be noted that Pox (shoulder injury) and their best safety, Jeremiah McCollough, have both been ruled out for Saturday night.

NCAA Football: West Virginia at Kansas Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports

The Jayhawk defense as a whole is…well, pretty bad. Kansas ranks 106 in scoring defense, giving up 32.6 points per game and is basically one of the worst rushing defense in the country giving up 223.4 yards per game, which good for 117thbest in the nation.

So, what do we need to do against a pure three down lineman front that’s really weak against the run with a dual threat quarterback and three pretty good (and hopefully 100% healthy) running backs?

Run. The. Damn. Ball.

Third Down - By the Numbers:

  • Texas Tech owns a 19-1 record in the football series with the Kansas Jayhawks, with the largest margin of victory coming in 2017 where Tech beat the Jayhawks 65-19.
  • Texas Tech is favored by 3.5 points, which is only the third time since 2015 that Kansas has been an underdog of 7 points or less in a Big 12 matchup.
  • Kansas is getting outscored in the first half 123-76. Conversely, they are outscoring opponents 109-105 in the second half, i.e. Garbage Time.
  • Kansas beat the University of Texas in football in 2016. People forget that.

Fourth Down - Prediction:

I hope the following statement makes sense, because in my mind (which you don’t want any part of), it does:

On the Kansas football scale of the past decade, this is Kansas football team is good.

NCAA Football: Iowa State at Texas Tech Michael C. Johnson-USA TODAY Sports

But with that said, it’s probably less like the team that nearly upset Texas in Austin and more like team that lost by nearly 50 to a bad TCU team. Conversely, I don’t think Texas Tech is exactly the juggernaut we saw in that OSU game, but definitely not as bad as the team that we saw against OU and Iowa State.

Come out focused, limit the big chunk plays from their offense and run the damn ball.

The Oversized Chickens from the Heartland, 17

Texas Tech, 38