To date, Texas Tech has had a very successful season. This team’s only losses are to the 14th and 20th ranked teams in the country. Given this team’s recent history, they arguably are playing past expectations. But the Texas Tech week six opponent, in terms of AP ranking, is their highest to date. The seventh-ranked Cowboys of Oklahoma State welcome the Red Raiders to town. So how can Texas Tech win at a place in which they have only won two times in the last two decades?
Flip The Script
In the last two weeks, the opening game “script” for the defense has not gone well. The offensive script last week also left lots to be desired. For whatever reason, slow starts have been the opening note played by the Red Raiders in Big 12 play. In the simplest terms, when Texas Tech scored any points in the first quarter, they won. In their two losses, they have zero points in both first quarters. However, credit needs to be paid to this coaching staff. In those losses, Texas Tech has entered the fourth quarter tied or within two possessions of the lead. No matter how poorly the opening drives have gone, they do a great job of pivoting where they need to and the players execute those changes. But a Texas Tech week six victory requires a better opening script.
Oklahoma State is too good of a team to simply spot a 14-point lead to. The Cowboys currently rank 5th nationally in scoring offense, averaging 47.8 points per game. Their offensive attack is led by veteran quarterback Spencer Sanders. He ranks 4th in the FBS with 22.5 points responsible per game and 11th in yards per game (320.5). Could Oklahoma State possibly be looking ahead as a road trip to play TCU awaits in week seven? The potential certainly is there.
Take Chances Down The Field
Offensive coordinator Zach Kittley has to call more downfield shots and take some chances. Between Myles Price, Jerand Bradley, Xavier White, Nehemiah Martinez, Loic Fouonji, J.J. Sparkman, and Trey Cleveland, they have a combined one 100-yard receiving game against an FBS opponent this year. That came last week when White had 120 yards receiving on nine catches. This passing attack has not ascended to any sort of cruising altitude. Quarterback Donovan Smith has been efficient, but has stressed a passing defense down the field. However, as good as Oklahoma State is across the board, there is potential for the passing attack to have a big day. The cowboys rank 122nd nationally in passing yards allowed per game (285.2).
While the secondary appears gettable, the challenge is giving Smith enough time to operate. Texas Tech has had its own struggles protecting Smith this season. The Red Raiders rank 125th nationally in sacks allowed, surrendering nearly 4 sacks per game (3.8). Oklahoma State leads the Big 12 in sacks per game (3.0) and ranks third nationally in tackles for loss. They also rank 124th nationally in tackles for loss allowed as they are currently giving up 8.2 tackles for loss a game. Additionally, the Red Raiders have to stay ahead of the chains and not get into third and long situations. With as well as they get after the quarterback, it is no surprise to see they are ranked seventh nationally in third down conversion defense. Teams are only converting 24.1% of third downs against the Pokes.
Texas Tech Week Six Prediction
There is a reason why Oklahoma State holds the current top spot in the standings and in the Last Word power rankings. This game was always and will be a tough challenge for the Red Raiders. Oklahoma is the fresher, healthier, and more skilled team across the board. No doubt that Joey McGuire‘s team will put up a fight against the Cowboys. But Oklahoma State’s depth and experience prove to be too much for Texas Tech.
Oklahoma State 42, Texas Tech 24