Texas Tech Red Raiders head coach Kliff Kingsbury got a reprieve from the unemployment line last year when his team upset the Texas Longhorns in its final game of the regular season. When Tech takes the field against the Baylor Bears at AT&T Stadium on Saturday, his job will likely be on the line again.
Sitting a win short of bowl eligibility, Tech would have plenty to play for anyway. Even though Matt Rhule’s job is safe in Waco, the Bears are hunting for a bowl bid at 5-6 overall as well.
The desperation will be palpable throughout the House That Jerry Jones Built this weekend.
Baylor vs. Texas Tech (Arlington, Texas)
Kickoff: Saturday, Nov. 24 at 12 p.m. ET
Where: AT&T Stadium (Arlington, Texas)
Spread: Texas Tech -6.5
Three Things to Watch
1. Tech’s quarterbacks
Injuries have left Kliff Kingsbury scrambling at quarterback. Freshman sensation Alan Bowman has been sitting with a collapsed lung. McLane Carter doesn’t appear ready to get back on the field after suffering an ankle injury early in the season. Jett Duffey now has an injury that has put his availability up in the air.
If the Red Raiders have to call on fourth-string sophomore Colt Garrett, they will need to hope he lives up to his gunslinger-sounding name. Tech can’t afford to have its QB situation taking a major bite out of its passing productivity. Even with all of the different quarterbacks shuttling in and out of the lineup, the Red Raiders are fourth in the nation at 362.2 passing yards per game.
2. Slowing Baylor’s passing game
The Bears have one of the most underrated aerial attacks in the nation. They’re throwing for about 280 yards per game, which puts them in the top 25 in the country.
Texas Tech, meanwhile, has one of the more porous pass defenses around. The Red Raiders are giving up 286.5 yards per game through the air, 127th nationally. On a per-play basis, Tech’s 7.8 yards allowed ranks 93rd overall.
3. Kicking game
Baylor might not want to see this matchup turn into a field goal contest. Tech has arguably the best placekicker in the country in Clayton Hatfield. The senior has drilled 16 of his 17 field goal tries this year and is a perfect 52-for-52 on extra points.
Kicking has been an adventure for the Bears. Junior Connor Martin has hit 14-of-22 FGs this year and has missed four of 36 extra points.
Despite the chaos at QB and a four-game losing streak for Texas Tech, oddsmakers still like the Red Raiders over the Bears by nearly a touchdown. What do they know that we don’t?
Baylor has struggled mightily with Air Raid teams this season, giving up 66 points to Oklahoma, 58 to West Virginia and 35 to Oklahoma State. If you can throw the ball competently, you can move the ball on the Bears. You could make a similar case about Tech’s defense, but it hasn’t happened to the same degree.
Tech already loves to play up-tempo on offense, so look for Kliff Kingsbury’s team to play at breakneck speed. The Red Raiders also will capitalize on the emotion of playing for their embattled head coach to eke out a victory.
Prediction: Texas Tech 37, Baylor 34
— Written by Allen Kenney, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network. Kenney is founder and editor of BlatantHomerism.com and host of the Blatant Homerism Podcast. Follow him on Twitter @BlatantHomerism.