Date: Saturday, September 23rd
Kickoff Time: 11:00am CT
Location: TDECU Stadium (Houston, TX)
Line: Houston -6
Series Record: Houston leads 18-11-1
Texas Tech Outlook
Head coach Kliff Kingsbury entered the year on the proverbial hot seat, and he cooled it down in two games (at least temporarily). His seat could easily heat back up with a loss to Houston on Saturday, but he isn’t using that as any extra motivation. In his press conference, Kingsbury had nothing but good things to say about the program that gave him a start in college football. On Saturday, that all goes away as he’s trying to beat his former employer.
A quarterback himself, Kingsbury has found multiple good quarterbacks in Lubbock to run his offense. Last year, Patrick Mahomes put up some gaudy numbers, and many thought the offense would take a step back under Nic Shimonek. Through two games, there doesn’t appear to be a drop off, at least not yet. The senior has already throw for 927 yards and nine touchdowns in the Red Raiders first two wins, and he’s had plenty of weapons around him to aid that success.
Keke Coutee was expected to be the leader of the receivers after Jonathan Giles announced he was going to transfer. Depth was always going to be the question at this position, and multiple players have stepped up to help Coutee out. Dylan Cantrell and Derrick Willies both almost have 200 receiving yards, and Cameron Batson caught 12 passes for 112 yards in the first two games as well. While Tech isn’t known for running the ball, Desmond Nisby and Justin Stockton have rushed for 102 and 94 yards, respectively.
Kingsbury knows that he needs to continue this rate of success. His team started out the 2016 season on fire offensively, but it was the defense that ultimately let them down early, and then there was the offensive debacle against Iowa State. The defense, once again, needs to shape up if this team wants to be a competitor in the Big 12.
Wins against Power 5 teams have become the norm for Houston, and they’re looking to add their eighth consecutive win against a Power 5 team. The Cougars also haven’t lost a regular season non-conference game since 2014. While they have faced far tougher tasks, this matchup will be especially stressful because of Texas Tech’s offense.
The Red Raiders like to throw the ball. A lot. I cannot emphasize that enough. They have big receivers that can win 50-50 balls and blow past defenders, and sound technique and reads will be needed. Safeties Garrett Davis and Khalil Williams are dealing with a rather inexperienced group this year, and they will need to communicate well with their corners to keep the unit in unison. Cornerback Jeremy Winchester has been decent, but the depth at the position will be a concern. Four and five receiver sets will be the norm on Saturday, and spreading out the Cougars defense could create issues.
Up front, Ed Oliver has started this year on another tear, and he’s been getting help. Nick Thurman and Reggie Chevis have done their part so far, but others in the rotation will need to step up even more this game. With the Red Raiders no huddle, the starters could get winded, and will need to be rotated out. Same goes for the linebackers. Matthew Adams is seeing nearly everything so far this season, and he’s been getting help. D’Juan Hines seems to be fairly comfortable in his transition to inside linebacker, and Emeke Egbule has been a nice surprise on the outside. This will be an extremely tough task for this group, but the Red Raiders have yet to face a competent defense, let alone a defense of this caliber.
Offensive coordinator Brian Johnson has to feel good about his offense heading into this game. Quarterback Kyle Allen has been extremely accurate thus far, and they’re playing against a defense that struggles against the pass. Allen should have no troubles finding his receivers down field, and he may be adding another target for this game. D’Eriq King is expected to return from injury to make his season debut, and it’s an addition that is welcomed with Ellis Jefferson out because of a knee injury. King has explosive speed, and will be used in the slot and on jet sweeps.
Houston has made a knack of beating Power 5 teams, and you can bet Kingsbury has prepared his team for a battle. Home field advantage will be huge for the Cougars, and might cause issues in the pre-snap calls that Shimonek needs to make. I see this game as being one of the most exciting of the weekend, and it’s a great way to start your Saturday.
My pick: Houston 38 Texas Tech 34
Who wins this P5 vs G5 matchup
This poll is closed
Houston Cougars (2-0)
Texas Tech Red Raiders (2-0)