Expect plenty of yards through the air with two high-flying passing attacks taking the field in Lubbock on Saturday
If you are a fan of offensive football, we have the game for you on Saturday with the Houston Baptist Huskies (0-1) taking on another in-state foe in the Texas Tech Red Raiders (0-0). The Huskies opened their season last weekend against North Texas and rolled up over 560 yards of total offense with 480 of those yards coming through the air. The issue? Houston Baptist allowed over 700 yards to the Mean Green, giving up big play after big play as North Texas had seven plays of 30+ yards or more on the day.
Doesn't get any easier this week for HBU against a Texas Tech offense that averaged 30.5 ppg and were 11th nationally in total offense in 2019 in the first year under head coach Matt Wells. The Red Raiders are coming off a disappointing 4-8 season under Wells, but looking a bit deeper, five of those eight losses were by 10 points or fewer. And most came without starting quarterback Alan Bowman who was lost for the year after just three games because of injury. If the 127th-ranked defense can be sorted out, Year Two could produce drastically different results for the Red Raiders under Wells.
Houston Baptist at Texas Tech
Kickoff: Saturday, Sept. 12 at 8 p.m. ET
Spread: Texas Tech -39.5
When Houston Baptist Has the Ball
The HBU passing game was as advertised last week, with starting quarterback Bailey Zappe throwing for 480 yards and three touchdowns on 62 attempts. Zappe's two all-conference performers at receivers — Ben Ratzlaff and Jerreth Sterns — also had big days with a combined 17 receptions and over 200 receiving yards for the duo.
The Red Raiders, on paper, should present a more difficult challenge as they return an experienced secondary with four players who started eight or more games a year ago, but it's the same group that finished 128th nationally in pass defense (307.8 ypg) and 127th in yards per attempt allowed (9.2). Texas Tech also gave up the most 30+ yard plays (35) in the entire country. Zappe and Co. will put this secondary to the test on Saturday to see if this group has improved any since last year.
Houston Baptist struggled to run the football against North Texas without starting running back Dreshawn Minnieweather, averaging just 3.9 YPC as a team. Ean Beek led the team with just 48 yards on 12 attempts. More will be needed if they expect to trade blows with the Texas Tech offense.
When Texas Tech Has the Ball
The Red Raiders offense had to be licking their chops this week when watching last week's game film of the Houston Baptist defense that allowed over 700 yards to North Texas. Starting quarterback Alan Bowman is back after playing in just three games last season as injuries continue to hamper him, suffering a partially collapsed lung in 2018 and then a cracked collarbone last year.
In those three games last season, Bowman still managed to top 1,000 yards passing with six TDs, averaging over 51 attempts per game. Now I know what you are thinking — Tech must've had to throw it around to make a comeback, right? That was only the case in Week 3 vs. Arizona. Against Montana State and UTEP, Texas Tech won by 35 points in each contest, and Bowman still threw it 53 and 46 times, respectively. The Red Raiders wound up finishing second in the nation in attempts per game at 44.3 so expect Bowman to sling it around on Saturday against this HBU secondary.
When the Red Raiders take to the ground, expect a heavy dosage of sophomore running back SaRodorick Thompson who became the eighth player in Tech history to lead the team in rushing as a freshman with 765 yards and 12 touchdowns on the ground. At receiver, Texas Tech still has a plethora of weapons, including T.J. Vasher, Erik Ezukanma, and KeSean Carter that will give any defense in the country fits.
If there is a prop bet out there for over/under total passing yards for this matchup, whatever you do, take the over, as Houston Baptist and Texas Tech will sling it around the yard on Saturday. The passing attack for the Huskies could keep this matchup mildly interesting for a quarter or two, but the Red Raiders have too much firepower coming back to feel threatened for an upset. Yards aplenty for both teams, but the score won't be that close.
Prediction: Texas Tech 49, Houston Baptist 17
— Written by Mike Bainbridge, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network. Bainbridge is a graduate of Northern Illinois University. Follow him on Twitter @MBainbridgeCFF.