LOCATION: Jones AT&T Stadium, Lubbock, TX
TIME: 7:00 CT Saturday, October 22
BETTING LINE: Oklahoma -14
OKLAHOMA PLAYER TO WATCH:
Yes, Texas Tech’s rush defense is terrible. Yes, Samaje Perine is out, leaving Joe Mixon in the driver’s seat for a big game. Yes, expect Mixon to be a big contributor offensively. However, DeDe Westbrook has sprinted into uncharted territory. Westbrook is on some kind of hot streak right now, and you best be watching out for him. In the last three games alone, he has 574 yards and 8 touchdowns. All three of those games were wins for Oklahoma. How many TD’s for Westbrook in OU’s two losses? 0. So clearly, Westbrook’s success is vital to Oklahoma’s offensive achievement. He must be licking his lips right now just thinking about shredding up Texas Tech’s defense. Mixon may carry the load for Oklahoma this weekend, but don’t be surprised if Westbrook explodes for another big game.
TEXAS TECH PLAYER TO WATCH:
Tony Morales was only one-fifth of the main problem of Texas Tech’s disastrous loss to West Virginia: the O-Line. Morales is the senior leader of the offensive line, and him stepping up will be a huge part of the whole line playing better. The whole offensive line provided little to no protection for poor Patrick Mahomes the whole day. While it’s also the running backs’ fault the running game has been abysmal, the line has not done Justin Stockton and DeMarcus Felton any favors. OU has a defense a few steps below West Virginia’s, but based on the performance I saw on Saturday, almost any defense could ravage the Red Raider line. If Morales and his teammates improve, Tech’s chances to upset Oklahoma will also improve.
OKLAHOMA POSITION GROUP PREVIEWS
Oklahoma’s offensive line has performed really well lately. They should be able to continue their success against a weak Texas Tech defensive front.
Mark Andrews took a step in the right direction last week, but he’s still a shadow of his former self.
Baker Mayfield has hit his stride, and he’s firing on all cylinders right now. Also, this game offers no extra motivation for Mayfield. Nope, none at all.
The injury bug has bitten Oklahoma’s deep backfield very hard. Mixon will probably be the only ball-carrier for OU this weekend. Fortunately, Tech’s run defense has the effectiveness of a blanket.
We mentioned Westbrook’s current status, but all of Oklahoma’s receivers have been on a tear lately. Expect that to keep up this week.
The Sooners’ defensive line has answered the bell the past few weeks. Expect the big boys up front to wreak some serious havoc for Mahomes and Co.
Oklahoma’s linebackers are playing exceptionally well this season, just like we all expected right? They’ll need to be on point to stifle Tech’s very dangerous offensive attack.
The defensive backs were nothing to write home about last week, but it’s a step up from total dumpster fire. They’ll try to keep moving in the right direction this weekend.
Austin Seibert appears to be getting more consistent by the week, a great sign for the Sooners.
Stoops is a great coach, and Lincoln Riley’s offensive play-calling has been absolutely sensation this year.
GAME PREVIEW ANALYSIS
This is it. This is the type of game Texas Tech, Lubbock, and Jones AT&T Stadium have become famous for in the last ten years. Since 2007, Texas Tech is .500 against OU at home, which is impressive considering that era spans Sam Bradford, Landry Jones, and Baker Mayfield, who all were Heisman candidates. In 2007, #3 OU came to Texas Tech with serious title hopes. 60 minutes later, those hopes were all but obliterated. Throughout these last few years, many highly-ranked teams have seen their championship aspirations perish out in West Texas. Last year, the only reason Tech didn’t beat #2 TCU was a crazy deflection TD, and even then the Red Raiders’ lateral/Hail Mary came within ten yards of success.
While all of this is well and good and may make you rethink how the game will go, the fact is a team can play in the craziest environment ever and still fall short if they don’t execute. There simply aren’t any other things to blame the WVU debacle on. This offense is one of the most talented of the last few years, and yet they were held to 17 points and gave up 4 sacks to a 3-man rush. On the other hand, Oklahoma has looked like they are truly hitting their stride. After a close loss to Houston (which looks worse now) and a blowout loss to Ohio State (who is clearly in the top four as of now), the Sooners have exploded into conference play with a 3-0 record, something only two others (Baylor and West Virginia) can boast. Baker Mayfield has looked much better in Big 12 play, if not quite the same as the magic he was in 2015. It will certainly be even more electric than normal in Lubbock because this is going to be the first game Mayfield will play in Lubbock after transferring from the program in 2013. It’s very, very difficult to pick against Texas Tech in Lubbock at night, but it’s also hard to believe in this undisciplined yet talented team. I think Tech keeps the game close through 3.5 quarters, but Mayfield scores two late touchdowns to put away Texas Tech for good. If Tech shows up at all, this game will likely be one of the most exciting to watch in the Big 12 schedule this year.
TEXAS TECH POSITION GROUP PREVIEWS
This group has performed much worse than anticipated this year. As mentioned above, they’ll be key to the Red Raiders’ chance of the huge upset.
I’m glad Mahomes and his receivers are good enough to carry this offense, because the running game has been nonexistent this year.
Mahomes really should’ve had a lot more rest these last two weeks. Shimonek should’ve been given the reins these last two games, as it’ll now be hard to make such a U-turn on how Mahomes has been handled.
Jonathan Giles is arguably the best receiver in the state of Texas so far this year. The rest of these players have still looked great. Keke Coutee in particular has stood out these last two games.
Just like the offensive line, this group hasn’t stood a chance against all six opponents this year. They’ll have the nearly impossible task of stopping Perine and Mayfield.
D’Vonta Hinton has played reasonably well so far; and that’s it. Missed tackles, blown coverage, and a lack of pressure has plagued this position group.
There is no excuse for a DB to be the tackling leader against a run-first attack. Hopefully this group won’t have to cover for the front seven so much this week.
For the first time this year, Texas Tech played a better game on special teams than their opponent. A repeat of last week could be huge for the Red Raiders.
This team is having troubles with fundamentals and discipline, plus I’m seriously questioning why Mahomes hasn’t rested for anything except garbage time these last two weeks.