One of the most intriguing out of conference matchups for the Big 12 features two old Southwest Conference rivals. The Houston Cougars will host Texas Tech this Saturday in what should be an exciting game to watch for many reasons. Both teams come into the showdown undefeated and looking to get a resume-boosting win.
The Red Raiders looked impressive in their opening game against Eastern Washington as they routed the eagles 56-10. Then, after an early bye week, the Red Raiders hosted Arizona State and looked dominant again. Well, until they nearly blew a 42-24 lead. Despite a near melt down, the Texas Tech escaped with a 52-45 victory.
Texas Tech quarterback Nic Shimonek has seemingly picked up right where Patrick Mahomes II left off, and has looked nearly flawless two games into the season. The senior is completing 79 percent of his passes and has thrown 9 touchdowns with no interceptions. Shimonek has an arsenal of weapons on the outside headlined by Keke Coutee, Derrick Willies, and Dylan Cantrell. He is your typical Texas Tech gun slinger and is undefeated so far as a starter.
The Houston Cougars roll into this matchup at 2-0 under new head coach Major Applewhite. The Cougars are coming off of a tough road win at Arizona and a convincing home win against crosstown rival—Rice. Kyle Allen has been very accurate to start the season as he is currently completing 86 percent of his passes. Duke Catalon and Mulbah Car have provided a solid ground game giving the offense some much-needed balance.
The strength of this Houston team is their defense as they are only giving up ten points a game early on in the season. The defense is led by senior linebacker Matthew Adams and junior safety Garrett Davis. Not to mention the Cougars have arguably the best defensive player, Ed Oliver, in the country; who will make life difficult for Shimonek. It will be a pleasure watching Texas Tech’s high powered offense square off against this Cougar smash-mouth defense.
For Texas Tech, a promising start to the season can be solidified with a tough road win against a dangerous Houston team. A loss will set the Red Raiders back again in terms of national perception and Kliff Kingsbury’s seat will certainly begin to heat up again. If Texas Tech is looking to have a breakthrough season, they have to beat Houston this Saturday.
DATE & TIME: SAT, SEP 23, 11:00 AM CT
LOCATION: TDECU Stadium, Houston, TX
FORECAST: Partly Cloudy, 87
BETTING LINE: Houston -6
Much to the dismay of Red Raider Nation, former Texas Tech head coach Tommy Tuberville will be in the booth to call the game. This is surprising since the last time Texas Tech heard from Tuberville, he was headed to the bathroom during a recruiting dinner.
This will be the first real test for both teams. Although it’s an early kick expect the stadium to rocking. It is not often that the UH hosts a Big 12 school from the state of Texas. The Cougars will take this game personally as they are coming off yet another snub of a Big 12 invite.
Keys To The Game For TTU
PROTECT THE QUARTERBACK- Nic Shimonek can keep the red raiders in any game with his prolific air attack. This will be one of the toughest defenses he will face all year. The offensive line needs to give Shimonek some time and protect him from getting hit. Going up against Ed Oliver and the Houston defense on the road is a daunting challenge for any quarterback, just ask Lamar Jackson.
FLY AROUND ON DEFENSE- Although Houston has a solid offense, they haven’t blown any defense out of the water yet this season. The Red Raider defense has shown signs of progress early on this year. Look for defensive leaders Dakota Allen and Jordyn Brooks to give Kyle Allen some trouble. If the defense puts together a solid performance, the cougar offense will have a difficult scoring with the Texas Tech.
ESTABLISH A RUN GAME- The Red Raider offense needs some balance to keep the dangerous cougar defense honest. So far this season Texas Tech hasn’t been able to do much on the ground. That trend needs to change this Saturday if the Red Raiders want to outscore Houston. Justin Stockton and Desmond Nisby need to bounce a few runs outside to keep the defense from keying in on Shimonek and the pass.
Having the betting line at Houston minus six is a bit generous for the Coogs as this matchup is a tossup. If Texas Tech can get a few timely stops down the stretch they will have a chance to outscore Houston. With that said, the Red Raiders have not seen a defense like the cougars. Expect the Texas Tech offense to be less prolific this week being on the road for an early kick. Look for Kyle Allen’s performance to be the deciding factor in the game.
Unfortunately, I would give Houston a slight edge because we saw what they did to OU last season. It was a different team, but they want to make a statement against the conference that left them out in the cold. Plus, they are playing at home as they will make a few key defensive stops in the fourth quarter.