The Mountaineers have won five straight against this Texas Tech squad but this game looks different. Despite being in Morgantown, the Red Raiders are the favorites as they face a struggling Mountaineer team in the mists of a rebuild.
Texas Tech isn’t having a great season either. The Red Raiders share a 3-5 record with West Virginia. Texas Tech is in the mist of a three game losing streak including a tough loss to Kansas. Texas Tech did beat Oklahoma State earlier in the year, that’s their only relevant win this season.
- When: Sat, NOV 9, 11:00 AM CT
- Where: Milan Puskar Stadium, Morgantown, WV
- Weather: Partly Cloudy, 41°
- TV: ESPN2
- Stream: WatchESPN
- Line: TTU -2.5, O/U 60
Texas Tech Red Raiders (3-5)
By Evan Green
Texas Tech had a much-needed bye week to lick their wounds after losing to Kansas for the first time in 18 years. The break also allowed Red Raider faithful to focus on the start of basketball season and the unveiling of the first Final Four banner in Tech men’s basketball history.
At this point, football gladly took a back seat to basketball. Injuries have piled up on the defensive side of the ball and the off week could see DE Nelson Mbanasor, Spur Evan Rambo and DB Desmon Smith all back in action. On the offensive side of the ball, Matt Wells even listed injured QBs Alan Bowman and Maverick McIvor as “day-to-day.”
McIvor was slated to miss the entire season, and Bowman will have the ability to redshirt if he plays one game or less the rest of the way, which seems likely at this point. That means another couple weeks with Jett Duffey under center, who has been much-improved over his starts last season, however, the offense has left a lot to be desired this season.
Texas Tech has the best chance to make a bowl game out of the three three-win teams in the Big 12 but would need to see major improvement this week for that to be considered a possibility.
Keys To The Game For Texas Tech
Pressure The QB – Tech only recorded one sack in the loss to Kansas. A good deal of the issues relate to injuries along the defensive line, but DC Keith Patterson runs an aggressive scheme that requires QB pressure. Without recording some sacks or forcing hurried throws, the defensive backs will be put in a very tough situation.
Limit Big Plays – Against Kansas, this stemmed from not getting to the QB. While bringing pressure, the defensive backs are often found one on one against the opponent’s best weapons. Whether the Red Raiders get to the QB or defensive backs lock down in coverage, Tech will need to limit big plays.
Open Up the Playbook – Red Raider fans have openly expressed their displeasure with the play calling over the last few weeks. OC David Yost seems overly conservative, whether due to lack of trust with Duffey or not, it’s time to open things up. Tech is 3-5 and not likely to make a bowl. It’s time to see what the offense can do and if it results in a turnover or two, so be it.
The Red Raiders are a road favorite in this one as West Virginia has had struggles of their own this season. This game could be an ugly one and likely won’t draw much of an audience. I am going to go down with the ship this year and say Texas Tech pulls off a one-possession road win in the “Battle of the Basement.”
West Virginia Mountaineers (3-5)
West Virginia should come into this game with confidence – well, at least the defense should. Last week, the WVU defense held undefeated Baylor to 17 points, while playing with their back against the wall all night. Yet again, it was the Mountaineer offense that let the team down. The offense, led by Austin Kendall, was only able to put up seven points. A kickoff return for a TD gave WVU their other seven points. But overall, last week’s performance against Baylor was a massive improvement from the previous three blowouts in October, and West Virginia now has a much easier opponent.
Neal Brown has a decision to make. Jarett Doege is now eligible to play in the last four games of the season without burning his redshirt. A possible answer to the mediocre quarterback play. Austin Kendall seems to still be the guy, but if he starts 1-7 like he did last week, then surely it’ll be Doege under center. The run game is terrible, and it’s not the running backs’ fault. Last week was another performance where the Mountaineers couldn’t even mustard one yard per carry. The offense isn’t where it needs to be at this point in the season.
The WVU defense has been great recently. Even against Texas and Iowa State they held off opposing offenses before the lack of depth caught up with them. Against Baylor everyone was making plays, including a lot of first year guys, and thats something Neal Brown must love to see. Texas Tech has a very solid offense so this matchup should determine who wins this game.
Keys To The Game For West Virginia
Unleash Doege – I think while he has struggled, the circumstances Austin Kendall was thrown into are tough. The fact he’s gotten hit a thousand times and has had a billion passes dropped, and he’s still standing, is very impressive. I think West Virginia fans have expected way too much from this offense and should realize how good he has done. With that said West Virginia isn’t scoring any points. A change can’t hurt, and a proven quarterback who was very good nationally back at Bowling Green has the chance to re-energize that offense.
Defense Needs To Keep It Up – The Texas Tech offense ranks top twenty in national offense when it comes to yards per game. Their a solid offense, Baylor quality if not better. West Virginia played great on the defensive side of the ball against Baylor and they need to match that or even build upon it just to win this game.
Score Early – This Texas Tech defense isn’t very impressive. The Mountaineers offense has a chance to get back on track but they need to start fast. The slow start killed the oppurtunity they had against Baylor to take a early lead. I expect the same kind of game this week and West Virginia can’t pass up that opportunity again.
This game is really even. West Virginia is in a prime chance to get back in the win column. Texas Tech is slipping since a 3-2 start but the same can be said for the Mountaineers. This one is a toss up and could go either way, but Texas Tech hasn’t beaten this WVU team in five years. All good things must come to an end. Texas Tech by three.