And so it begins. After an impressive non-conference schedule which saw Oklahoma State amass an average of 52.3 points per game in wins over Missouri State, South Alabama, and No. 17 Boise State,it seems inconceivable to imagine the Cowboys as the second most prolific offense taking the field at Boone Pickens Stadium. Texas Tech however, has somehow been even more impressive. The Red Raiders lead the NCAA FBS in total yardage at 1,873 (624.3 yards per game) and trail only Alabama and Ohio State at 55.7 ppg. The game may turn on the Cowboy’s defense, which has looked formidable under a new defensive coordinator in Jim Knowles.
And with that, let’s get this preview started.
Where: Boone Pickens Stadium – Stillwater, Oklahoma
When: Saturday, September 22 6:00 PM C.S.T.
Stream: Fox Sports Go
Get to Know the Texas Tech Red Raiders (2-1,0-0):
While many experts assumed that the Red Raider offense would struggle following quarterback Patrick Mahomes II’s departure to the NFL, freshman quarterback Alan Bowman has proven himself to be a worthy replacement. Bowman enters the game with 1,160 yards passing, eight touchdown passes, and zero interceptions. While he hasn’t flashed the athleticism that made his predecessor a tenth overall pick in the first round of the 2017 NFL draft, Bowman has thus far demonstrated an excellent command of offensive coordinator Kevin Johns’ system.
Bowman’s aptitude appears even more impressive in light of three injuries to the Texas Tech offensive line. Left guard Madison Akamnonu (RS JR) and left tackle Travis Bruffy (JR) are listed as questionable on Saturday following leg and ankle injuries, respectively, in Texas Tech’s 63-49 win over Lamar last week. These injuries came on the heels of the news that offensive tackle Zach Adams’ shoulder injury will keep him out for the 2018 season.
What to Watch For: Oklahoma State(3-0,0-0)
Oklahoma State fans will hope that their suddenly-stout defense can exploit injuries to the Red Raider offensive line. Led by new defensive coordinator Jim Knowles, the 15th ranked Cowboys currently sit at No. 17 in the NCAA FBS total defense rankings, holding opponents to a mere 294.7 yards per game. Junior defensive end Jordan Brailford has been a standout for the Cowboys’ defense. Brailford has been doing his finest Khalil Mack impression, having registered four sacks and two fumble recoveries on the season. This comparison to Mack is not lost on head coach Mike Gundy:
“I’m not saying he’s [Mack]” Gundy told News Oklahoma reporters this week, “But that unusual ability to have speed and strength gives him a chance to be a decent pass rusher.” [The Oklahoman]
If Brailford can consistently get to Texas Tech quarterback Alan Bowman this Saturday, the Cowboys can emerge victorious and send the Red Raiders plummeting down the total offense rankings.
Player to Watch: Dakota Allen
Senior Texas Tech linebacker Dakota Allen is perhaps the most compelling redemption story this college football season. Featured heavily on the Netflix original series, Last Chance U, Allen spent the 2016 season at tiny East Mississippi Community College after having been dismissed from Texas Tech. Allen was sent home in June 2016 when he and two fellow Red Raider football players were charged with second-degree burglary following the theft of firearms from a Lubbock home.
Allen starred on the field at East Mississippi Community College and stayed out of trouble off-field, such that he satisfied the Texas Tech student discipline policy, persuading head coach Kliff Kingsbury to give him a second chance. Allen has made the most of this opportunity so far, amassing 19 tackles on the season, most recently seven solo and two unassisted tackles in last week’s win over the Houston Cougars. Here’s hoping he continues along his redemptive path, but doesn’t leave Boone Pickens Stadium victorious.
Sticking with the prediction from the round table, Oklahoma State 42, Texas Tech 38.