Kansas State has dominated this matchup the last eight years, winning seven of eight games. Their only loss came in 2015 in Lubbock when the Red Raiders had a QB named Patrick Mahomes. Two weeks ago, I was certain the Wildcats would make that 8/9.
After knocking off undefeated Oklahoma and handling in-state rival Kansas, KSU looked to be one of the better teams in the conference. Two short weeks later, after winning time of possession, first downs, and total yards, Kansas State somehow lost to a struggling West Virginia team.
Out in West Texas, things are even worse. The Red Raiders fell behind 24-3 against a TCU team that has had issues offensively. As a team that has survived on forcing turnovers, Tech didn’t steal a possession, losing by 2 and dropping their chance to make a bowl game to 11% per ESPN FPI. The loss also left Tech with four losses in the last five games.
Both teams are in need of a bounce-back game. Kansas State will be playing in a bowl game while Texas Tech (who desperately needs the extra practice) needs to win out to reach the postseason.
- When: Sat, Nov 23, 6:00 PM CT
- Where: Jones AT&T Stadium, Lubbock, TX
- Forecast: 53 Degrees, Clear
- TV: Fox Sports 1
- Betting Line: TTU -2.5 O/U 56
Kansas State Wildcats (6-4)
The Wildcats will be looking to get back some of the mojo in this game that they had earlier this season. Kansas State utilizes more of a “ball control” philosophy, so it shouldn’t be surprising that they currently lead the Big 12 in time of possession, holding onto the football over 34 minutes per contest.
The Wildcats have a predilection for running the ball, and the variety of ways that they can run offensively help set up their down-the-field passing game. Quarterback Skylar Thompson, who brings dual threat capabilities to the table, has thrown the ball for almost 2,000 yards this season, and he’s averaging 3.9 yards per game as a runner.
Defensively, the Wildcats have been mostly solid when opposing offenses try to throw the ball, and have given up only seven passing touchdowns in Big 12 play. Most importantly, Kansas State is stingy when it comes to giving up points, and they are holding Big 12 foes to a mere 25.1 points per game.
Kansas State Keys To The Game
Control The Line Of Scrimmage – Kansas State is 1-3 when they’ve thrown the ball more than 25 times this season, which should tell you how much the Wildcats prefer to depend on their ground game. If Kansas State is going to win this one, they’ll absolutely need to win in the trenches in order to open up some running lanes.
Don’t Give Up Big Plays – Last week against TCU, the Red Raiders were able to get themselves back into the game quickly because of a handful of big plays. In order to be able to control the game the way they want to, the Wildcats need to keep everything in front of them on defense.
I think this is a very difficult game to predict, because although they have different win/loss records, these two teams are not that far apart. There are a lot of ways this could go, but I will take Kansas State to win as a road underdogs. The Wildcats have one of the best defenses in the conference, and I believe that will end up making the difference in a game decided by a field goal.
Texas Tech Red Raiders (4-6)
What more is there to say about last week’s uninspired loss against TCU. The team showed poise fighting back from the first-quarter deficit, but the task was too tall for the Red Raiders to match an offensive conversion and a defensive stop.
Saturday night is senior night and a blackout game in the Jones and I am crossing my fingers the Tech faithful turn up for this one. The crowds have been understandably thin, between morning kickoffs and a struggling team. The fact that this game is a 6 PM kickoff might be the saving grace for the home team.
Matt Wells and Co need a strong finish to the year and it starts this weekend. Losing this game, and likely the game in Austin, would mean the Red Raiders finish 4-8 and 2-7 in conference. Pulling out a win in front of the home crowd and giving Tech a do-or-die game to make a bowl has the ability to change the perception of this whole season.
Texas Tech Keys To The Game
Force Turnovers – The defense survives on turnovers as they don’t get many stops outside of taking the ball away. Winning the turnover margin has been key all year long and we all saw what happened when a mediocre team like TCU took care of the ball. The Red Raiders will likely need 2 or more takeaways. It’s almost like this has been a “Key to the Game” every week this year.
Start Quickly – After last week, this should be bolded, underlined, and in bright red font. There should be a decent crowd being senior night, a 6 PM kickoff, and a blackout game. Taking advantage early and getting the crowd involved could be the difference in the game this week, I’d like nothing more than winning the coin toss with a “We want the ball” attitude and scoring on the first possession.
Honestly, I have no faith in either of these teams. Weird things happen in Lubbock after dark and I think the Red Raiders get the crowd going early. Vegas is smarter than I am and has Tech as a home favorite, so I am siding with them. Tech wins a close one at home, holding on to bowl hopes.