Date: Saturday, September 17, 2016
Kickoff Time: 6:00 PM CDT
Location: Lubbock, TX
Stadium: Jones AT&T Stadium
Streaming Video: FoxSportsGo.com
Series Record: Texas Tech leads 1-0 (1933)
Betting Line: Texas Tech -10.5
I hope you like points.
2 weeks ago, La Tech fell 1 point shy of knocking off an Arkansas team that is now ranked. Now, the Bulldogs take on their second Power 5 team when they travel to Lubbock to challenge the Red Raiders of Texas Tech.
Arkansas scored 21 points on La Tech. Then, they took on a Big XII team of their own, traveling to Fort Worth to challenge the Horned Frogs. If you don’t count overtime, Arkansas mustered 28 points in regulation. Although a Big XII team, TCU has been known to have good defenses under Gary Patterson. This would suggest that Tech has a defense that can at least compete with the Big XII (which may be helped by two Big XII graduate transfers at linebacker).
Everyone knows Texas Tech can score points. Through 2 games, they have scored 69 and 55. The catch is that 55 wasn’t enough this past week. They gave up 68 to Arizona State. For reference ASU scored “only” 44 on FCS Northern Arizona the week before (granted, they couldn’t afford to slow down against Texas Tech like they could against NAU). So as exciting as their offense is, their defense is worrisome.
The question now becomes, can La Tech get enough defensive help to outscore the Red Raiders?
For La Tech, the Arkansas game was about defense. That defense stepped up, holding last year’s second-highest scoring SEC offense (35.9 pts/game) to 21. Now they face last year’s second-highest scoring Big XII offense (45.1 pts/game). Just like this year, last year’s Raider offense scored huge point totals the first two games (59 and 69 last year). But in their 3rd game (against Arkansas, ironically enough), they were held to 35.
La Tech’s defense has looked better than expected so far this year. Although not recording any takeaways against SC State, they intercepted Austin Allen twice. Maybe we can chalk up the lack of picks against SC State to the 4 hour delay and the vast amount of garbage time where starters rested.
Speaking of resting the starters, SC State’s last two scores were against backups. Tech’s starting defense has only allowed 31 total points so far this season.
Austin Allen attempted 29 passes against La Tech. Caleb York, 31. Patrick Mahomes? 43 against SFA, 53 against ASU. There will be plenty of chances for Xavier Woods and company to make plays on the ball. Not to mention Jaylon Ferguson and the defensive line getting pressure on Mahomes. The Bulldogs recorded 4 sacks against an Arkansas team that doesn’t give up very many.
On the other side of the coin, how will the Bulldog offense fare against the Red Raider defense? J’Mar Smith looked good against Arkansas, but he’s the backup. Ryan Higgins made his return to starting against SC State. He threw 2 interceptions and fumbled an exchange in the 1st half.
That said, he played better in the second half. Despite the turnovers, he threw 4 TDs and 409 yards and didn’t even play the entire game as both J’Mar Smith and Price Wilson played in garbage time. It should also be noted La Tech had no turnovers in the second half. If Ryan Higgins can keep it clean and avoid boneheaded mistakes, the passing game should be strong.
Here’s an interesting note: through 2 games, La Tech averages more rushing yards than Texas Tech, and averages fewer allowed rushing yards than Texas Tech. Looks like the Dawgs will win the ground game, at least.
Louisiana Tech will be hungry. They barely missed a trademark win against Arkansas. This is their second chance. Linebackers Dalton Santos and Jordan Harris are from the Big XII. Dalton Santos has left Lubbock with a road victory before (2014 with Texas). The last time La Tech played at a Big XII school, it took 3 overtimes for K-State to finally win. But will that be enough to beat an offense led by Mahomes?
I honestly don’t know. This could go a lot of different ways. Maybe Mahomes is too much. Maybe he throws enough picks to keep the Dawgs in the game. If Ryan Higgins plays sloppy, it’ll be a long bus ride home. But if he keeps it clean? At the end of the day, I think how Ryan Higgins plays will decide this game.
Ryan Higgins’ knack for interceptions makes me nervous, but Texas Tech has only recorded one interception so far this season, and that was against a backup FCS quarterback. But although both teams have had great offenses, Louisiana Tech has had a good defense, as well. Texas Tech does not. Last year, both teams had top-25 offenses. La Tech’s defense ranked 48th. Texas Tech’s? 126th. If Higgins plays smart, his defense could make it happen. Maybe I’m voting with my heart here, but the Big XII has already been upset a few times and has struggled as a whole. I think there’s potential for one more here. This could come down to who has the ball last, and despite his poor showing against Arkansas, Jonathan Barnes has gotten it done time and time again. Maybe he records another game winning field goal in Lubbock.
Louisiana Tech 45, Texas Tech 42