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Texas Tech Looks To Get Back On Track Against Iowa State

On Saturday the Iowa State Cyclones will blow into Lubbock to face Texas Tech in a game that each team has to win to keep their bowl hopes alive.

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Jakeem Grant of Texas Tech rushes in first half against Iowa State (2014) - Getty Images - David K Purdy

A much-improved Iowa State team is heading to Lubbock this weekend to face a reeling Texas Tech squad. The Cyclones been competitive in every game so far, but haven’t faced a team with talent like the Red Raiders this year. However Tech is licking their wounds after back-to-back losses to TCU and Baylor. For better or worse, this game should set the tone for the remainder of both teams’ seasons, so you can be sure it’ll a good one.

DATE & TIME: Saturday, October 10th at 2:30 PM CST
WHERE: Jones AT&T Stadium (Lubbock, TX)
FORECAST: Partly Cloudy, Wind 10-12 mph, Game Temp 79°F
TV: Fox Sport Net / Fox Sports GO
BETTING LINE: Texas Tech -12.5 (O/U 75)

IOWA STATE CYCLONES

Iowa State is 2-2 overall so far this season, but 1-0  in conference play after beating an out manned Kansas team last Saturday.

The emergence of a stronger than expected running game and Sam Richardson’s ability to spread the ball around at quarterback has the Iowa State offense headed in the right direction. The Cyclone defense has made huge strides this season as they’re currently ranked in the top 40 in scoring defense nationally and are fourth in the Big 12.

This Saturday presents a vastly different test for a Cyclone team that desperately wants to get back to a bowl game. Although with two non-conference losses, and their only probable-win behind them, that’s going to be easier said than done.

KEY PLAYERS FOR IOWA STATE

Sam Richardson – Last week in Iowa State’s Big 12 opener against Kansas the Iowa State senior quarterback threw for 269 yards on 27 of 37 passing with two touchdowns and two interceptions. With the exception of the turnovers last week’s performance was typical of what the Cyclones have asked for Richardson to do, he’s averaging 250 yards passing and 2 touchdowns each game. In Iowa State’s two wins Richardson has completed almost 73% of his passes, in their two losses his completion percentage drops to 57% while accounting for 11 more passing attempts. Iowa State’s ability to win will be dictated by Richardson’s ability to keep his completion percentage up and not turn the ball over.

Mike Warren – In the last two games Warren, a red shirt freshman, has rushed for 301 yards and two touchdowns on 39 carries for an average of 7.72 yards per carry. Warren is capable of breaking big runs as he’s had runs of 28, 41 and 62 yards in the last two games, if you remove those three runs Warren still averages 4.72 yards per carry. Warren’s emergence has given Iowa State’s offense a real running threat which has made their passing game significantly more effective. Going forward Warren should now be the engine that drives Iowa State’s offense and this game will provide a good test of his abilities.

Dale Pierson – Pierson currently averages 1.5 sacks per game which is good enough for him to rank third in the country. The senior defensive end has started the season strong and should present a great challenge for the Red Raider offensive line as well as Patrick Mahomes who likes to break the pocket and extend plays. Pierson’s average sack moves the offense back seven yards which should match up well with Mahomes’ ability to scramble. Pierson and the rest of the Iowa State defensive line’s ability to create havoc in the Red Raider backfield will determine how well the defense and the team will fair in this game.

IOWA STATE’S KEYS TO THE GAME

Run To Pass – In the last two weeks the Red Raiders faced Aaron Green and Shock Linwood, the two backs combined to run for almost 400 yards and four touchdowns on the Red Raiders defense as those two backs averaged almost 8 yards a carry. With Mike Warren at running back the Cyclones will be able to run the ball effectively which will setup their ability to throw play action passes.

Pressure Mahomes – Iowa State doesn’t necessarily need to sack Patrick Mahomes as much as they need to create pressure on him. Mahomes has shown that he is willing to make bad throws on plays where he’s pressured. Forcing those kinds of mistakes will limit the defenses time on the field and the Red Raiders opportunities to score.

Stay Disciplined – Last week the Cyclones were penalized twice for a total of 10 yards, the Red Raiders can pile up yardage against most defenses so they won’t need any extra help from silly mistakes. Iowa State is also minus one in terms of turnover margin, they don’t have to take the ball away from Texas Tech to win but giving the ball away will guarantee them a loss.

WHAT CYCLONE FANS WANT TO SEE

A win. The Cyclones haven’t beaten a Big 12 team other than Kansas since November of 2013 when they went on the road and beat West Virginia to end the season. More than that though, lose here, and the chance of making a bowl game is about the same as Paul Rhoads returning to Ames next season.

TEXAS TECH RED RAIDERS

Through five games this season Texas Tech has the 3rd ranked scoring offense and the 123rd ranked scoring defense in the country. Red Raider defensive coordinator David Gibbs said it best when he said “At some we have grow up and start playing good on game day” at this past Monday’s press conference, every Texas Tech fan in the country probably let out an exasperated “Exactly!” when they heard that. Happily for Texas Tech and for their defense in particular they’ve survived the two best offenses that they’ll face this season. The rest of the Red Raiders Big 12 schedule awaits and it starts this weekend with a visit from an improved Iowa State team.

KEY PLAYERS FOR TEXAS TECH

Patrick Mahomes – Mahomes should return to being close to full strength this weekend which should make Red Raider fans excited and Cyclone fans worry. For most of the last two games Mahomes has been hobbled by a leg injury, however you wouldn’t be able to tell from his touchdown run last Saturday. As long as Mahomes is healthy the Red Raiders offense will cause defenses problems. Of course with all great players there is always a weakness and in Mahomes’ case it’s his willingness to gamble with bad throws when he’s pressured and can’t keep his eyes downfield.

 

Underclass Receivers – Since the start of the season the Red Raiders have lacked several of their biggest wide receivers for parts or all of games. Dylan Cantrell, Ian Sadler and Devin Lauderdale might not be playing in this weekend’s game which means that Texas Tech will need their freshman and sophomore receivers to step up. Last week against Baylor freshman and sophomore receivers and backs accounted for 399 of the Red Raider’s 530 receiving yards, in order to be successful this weekend they’ll need that type of production again.

Dakota Allen – The redshirt freshman linebacker currently leads the Red Raiders defense with 47 tackles including three tackles for loss, those stats are especially impressive when you consider that he’s only started two of Texas Tech’s five games this season. This weekend Allen had better be ready make quite a few more tackles against Iowa State’s Mike Warren. If Allen and the rest of the Red Raiders defense can contain Warren it’ll force the Cyclones to rely solely on their passing game which doesn’t have the fire power to keep up.

KEYS TO THE GAME

Keep The Laundry Off The Field – The Red Raiders like to do things in a big way and last Saturday was no exception. After being relatively quiet on the penalty front for the last few games the Red Raiders old habits came roaring back to life with 17 penalties for 142 yards. Texas Tech almost doubled their number of penalties and yards from their first four games where they had only accumulated 21 penalties for a total of 170 yards. Saturday’s game will be the perfect opportunity for Texas Tech to get back to what they had been doing earlier in the season.

Stop The Run – Mike Warren has been picking up big yardage in his last two games and it has allowed the Iowa State offense to run at a high level. I’m not suggesting that David Gibbs stack the box to stop the run but the Red Raiders have to make sure that they don’t give up big runs and keep Warren’s under four yards per carry. This would be a major accomplishment for a defense that has given up massive yardage on the ground the last two weeks.

Play Your Game – The last two weeks the Red Raiders have faced teams that are as explosive if not more explosive than they are. This week’s opponent isn’t built to challenge teams by scoring in bunches with short drives. In reality if Texas Tech’s defense can keep Iowa State under 30 points this came should play out perfectly for the Red Raiders and their high scoring offense.

WHAT RED RAIDER FANS WANT TO SEE

It’s simple, cut out all of the mistakes. At times last week the Red Raiders were their own worst enemy as they had dropped passes on potentially big plays, penalties and turnovers galore not to mention missed assignments and tackles on defense. Texas Tech isn’t ready to compete with the upper echelons of college football but they are built to win games against opponents in the middle of the pack and this week should restore some hope and faith in Red Raider fans everywhere.

FINAL PREDICTION

Iowa State is better than they were last year, and has found players that make them more dangerous on both sides of the ball than they’ve been in a few years. Texas Tech was embarrassed last week and will be looking for someone to take two losses worth of aggression out on. The Cyclones could make some noise early but Texas Tech is simply too talented for the Cyclones to keep up with. The Red Raider’s should be able to put this game, and the Cyclone’s dreams of reaching a bowl game, out of reach by the middle of the third quarter.

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