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Preview: Oklahoma State vs. Texas Tech

It’s Senior Day in Stillwater!

NCAA Football: Oklahoma State at Texas Tech Michael C. Johnson-USA TODAY Sports

When: Saturday, November 12th, 2:30pm CST.

Where: Boone Pickens Stadium (Stillwater, OK)

Watch: Fox Sports 1

Listen: Cowboy Radio Network

#13 Oklahoma State vs. Texas Tech

After escaping Manhattan last week with a victory, the Oklahoma State Cowboys 7-2 (5-1) head into Saturday to face the Texas Tech Red Raiders 4-5 (2-4) in Stillwater for their final home game of the season.

The Pokes narrowly defeated Kansas State last weekend 43-37 on a 17-yard go ahead touchdown run from Chris Carson with 1:46 left in regulation. Riding a five-game winning streak, OSU jumped five spots to a #13 ranking in the College Football Playoff standings. With three games left in Big 12 play, the Cowboys control their own destiny and can earn their 1st Big 12 championship since 2011 if they win out.

Texas Tech enters the matchup on the heels of a 45-37 loss at home to in-state foe Texas. Texas Tech is now 2-4 in the Big 12 with an overall record of 4-5. The Red Raiders need to win 2 of their last 3 games if they want to finish the season bowl eligible. Texas Tech is looking for their first win in Stillwater since 2001 (!) when they were led by current head coach Kliff Kingsbury at QB.

What to know about Texas Tech

The Red Raiders come into this matchup with the nations No.1 passing offense and average just over 46 points per game, good for 4th in the nation. They are led by Big 12 offensive POY candidate Patrick Mahomes II who has thrown for 3886 yards and 31 TDs on the season. Leading the Tech receiving corps is Jonathan Giles with 982 yards and 12 TDs. The story with this Texas Tech team is one all too familiar with Tech fans. An extremely potent and explosive offense with nothing to show on defense. The Red Raider defense gives up almost 42 points per contest to opposing offenses, 124th in the nation. So, while Pat Mahomes and the offense give Tech a shot in almost every game, the defense too often fails to give the offense any support and has resulted in a 2-4 Big 12 record for the Red Raiders.

What to know about Oklahoma State

After an excruciatingly painful loss to Central Michigan in week 2 (we actually didn’t lose and I won’t let it go), the Cowboys are 6-1 and have reeled off five straight wins coming into Saturday. Led by standout QB Mason Rudolph and star WR James Washington, the Cowboys post the nations 6th ranked passing offense at 342.8 yards a game and are 13th in the country in scoring offense, averaging a tick under 41 points per game. OSU has improved in offensive efficiency almost every week since losing to Baylor in week 4 with an average of 2.78 points per drive. This, coupled with an opportunistic defense, has been the recipe for success for the cowboys this year. OSU has taken the ball away from opposing teams 20 times this season and rank first in the Big 12 in turnover margin.

Things to watch for - OSU

NCAA Football: Oklahoma State at Kansas State Scott Sewell-USA TODAY Sports
  • Finishing Drives - Against Texas Tech, you aren’t going to win by kicking field goals. You can expect a lot of points to be scored by the Red Raiders and in turn, the Cowboys have to finish drives with touchdowns and not fields goals. Last week against Kansas State, Ben Grogan didn’t attempt a single field goal attempt and OSU needs more of the same red zone efficiency this week against Texas Tech.
  • Establish the running game - While Rudolph and Co. will certainly give the Tech secondary issues, the Red Raiders are allowing an incredible 5.8 yards per carry on the ground this season. After D’Onta Foreman and Texas gashed Tech for 341 yards rushing last week, look for the cowboys to get freshman star Justice Hill and Chris Carson a healthy amount of touches in this ball game.
  • 3rd down defense - Texas Tech has been incredible on third down in 2016. They are second in the country with a 55% success rate of converting third downs. OSU needs to place an extra importance on third down defense and get Patrick Mahomes off the field. Mahomes and Tech converted 20 of 25 (!!!!) third down opportunities against OU in the 66-59 shootout earlier this year. Unless OSU wants this game to come down to the final drive, the Cowboys have to step it up on third down and force Tech to punt.

Things to watch for TTU

NCAA Football: Texas at Texas Tech Michael C. Johnson-USA TODAY Sports
  • Pat Mahomes needs to be Pat Mahomes - Definitely not out of the ordinary for Mahomes, but if Tech wants any hope to win this game, they need Mahomes to be at is best. Because of the defensive issues, the offense almost has no room for mishaps this weekend in Stillwater. The Red Raiders need to put the pressure on the OSU offense and play error free football for 60 minutes. When Mahomes is at his best and is making plays with his arm and his feet, Texas Tech is a team you can never really count out.
  • Can the Red Raider defense make enough plays? - As mentioned above, Tech obviously needs their offense to be clicking to have a chance in this game, but the real issue for this team is defense. For Tech to pull off the upset this weekend, the defense will need to create turnovers and force OSU into mistakes. They have only forced 8 turnovers this season, less than one per game (not ideal). The Tech D needs to deliver more than that this weekend if they want leave Stillwater with a victory.

Oklahoma State will win if...

They show up and play Cowboy football. If OSU limits penalties and takes care of the football, there is no reason the Pokes shouldn’t walk away with a victory. OSU has a more balanced offense and has the better defense. If OSU plays smart football and come away with touchdowns in the redzone, they will win.

Texas Tech will win if...

They can dominate the turnover battle. We know Tech will put up points, but will they be able to stop OSU? If they can create turnovers and give Pat Mahomes more chances to score, Tech can steal this game and ruin OSU’s Big 12 title hopes.

Stats

Mason Rudolph - 2989 yards / 22 TD’s / 4 INT’s

Justice Hill - 663 yards / 4 TD’s

James Washington - 974 yards / 8 TD’s

Patrick Mahomes II - 811 yards / 31 TD’s / 8 INT’s

Demarcus Felton - 289 yards / 3 TD

Jonathan Giles - 982 yards / 12 TD’s

Total offense ranks (yards) - OSU 28th / TTU 2nd

Total passing ranks (yards) - OSU 6th / TTU 1st

Total rushing ranks (yards) - OSU 102nd / 122nd

Prediction:

OSU - 55 TTU - 42