The college football regular season is just about over. But there is still so much to play for in this Texas Tech week 12 showdown against UCF. Both teams are heading into this game with some momentum as they each are on two-game winning streaks. The Red Raiders and the Knights enter the game both at 5-5 fighting for their post-season lives. So what is the key factor that will determine the outcome of this Big 12 showdown?
Red Raiders Offense Needs Someone to Step Up
This season could have been a lot worse if it was not for the production from running back Tahj Brooks. Brooks ranks fifth nationally in both total rushing yards (1,166) and rushing yards per game at 116.6. He has had seven 100-yard outings this year. That is the most by a Red Raider in a season since Ricky Williams had seven in 1998. According to Pro Football Focus, Brooks also leads all Power Five running backs with 72 forced missed tackles. This Texas Tech week 12 matchup pits Brooks against the worst rushing defense in the Big 12. UCF allows, on average, 195.8 rushing yards per game. However, the Kansas game last week was the first time all year Brooks looked tired in the second half. It was the fourth time in the last five games in which Brooks had at least 30 carries in a game.
Quarterback health, or more appropriately lack thereof, has limited this Red Raider offense. While Behren Morton is back as the starting quarterback, he does not appear to be 100%. The wide receiver group, as a whole, has not made life easy for any of the three quarterbacks offensive coordinator Zach Kittley has had running his offense this season. There has only been one wide receiver who has eclipsed the 100-yard receiving mark in a game this year, and that was Coy Eakin against Kansas State. Jerand Bradley, who surpassed that mark three times last season, had been MIA seven weeks before making game-changing plays last week against Kansas. The wide receivers need to take some stress and defensive focus off of Brooks.
Knights Rushing Attack Is Dangerous
For as much as the Red Raider offense needs to get more out of its wide receivers, the Texas Tech week 12 focal point rests in the hands of Tim DeRuyter’s defense. Make no mistake, this Red Raider unit is playing some of the best ball Lubbock has seen in a long time. Texas Tech is allowing only 24.4 points per game, which is on pace to be the lowest single-season average since 2009. But they are facing the most possibly the most potent rushing attack they have seen all season. Gus Malzahn’s Knights are averaging 233.7 yards on the ground per game. That is best in the Big 12 and ranks third nationally.
Their rushing attack is spearheaded by R.J. Harvey who has rushed for 1,082 yards this season. He has been running his best over the last five games, averaging 140.8 yards per game. This is after averaging only 75.6 yards in his first five games. But when Harvey comes out, Johnny Richardson is just as explosive. Harvey is averaging 6.4 yards per carry on 170 carries this year while Richardson is averaging 6.5 yards per carry on 70 carries. Keeping this rushing attack to 130-to-140 yards in the game would put the Knights in enough obvious passing situations and increase the likelihood of creating a turnover. UCF quarterback John Rhys Plumlee has thrown seven interceptions in only seven games this year. Texas Tech has forced three turnovers in their last two games. With Plumlee in obvious passing situations, they will be in opportunities to make a game-changing turnover.
Texas Tech Week 12 Prediction
All the pieces are there for the Red Raiders. They are coming off their first win over a ranked opponent on the road since 2018. A late afternoon game might as well equate to a nighttime atmosphere this time of year in Lubbock. It is senior day for the most senior of senior class Texas Tech will ever have. McGuire’s “Brand” won out last week. And while the season has come short of preseason expectations, securing a post-season birth at home will still serve as a great (and necessary) consolation prize for a team that is still just in its second year in a rebuild going on 14. A Texas Tech Week 12 victory comes off the leg of Gino Garcia in the waning seconds, sending the home crowd out for the year with the victory bells chiming in the distance.
Texas Tech 38, UCF 35