Can the Cyclones makes it four straight wins over the Red Raiders?
It's homecoming week for the Texas Tech Raider Raiders, who are coming off of a heartbreaking double-overtime loss last weekend to Baylor and will look to bounce back against an Iowa State Cyclones team that has rattled off back-to-back wins.
Their record may not show it just yet, but the Red Raiders (3-3, 1-2 Big 12) look to be on the upswing under new head coach Matt Wells, as this team was oh so close to upsetting a Top 25 opponent for the second week in a row against Baylor. Throwing the football is still the name of the game for Texas Tech, as they are 11th in the country in passing yards per contest, albeit with a backup quarterback in Jett Duffey. And while the defense has only made marginal improvements, the Red Raiders are tied for the conference lead with 12 takeaways on the season.
Tech will need to force some takeaways on Saturday against a Cyclones (4-2, 2-1) team that looks to be hitting its stride at the midway point of the regular season with consecutive impressive blowout performances against TCU and West Virginia. Both sides of the football are getting it done for Iowa State, as they rank 28th or higher in both total offense and defense nationally.
Iowa State at Texas Tech
Kickoff: Saturday, Oct. 19 at 12 p.m. ET
Spread: Iowa State -7
When Iowa State Has the Ball
We already know about Brock Purdy and the Iowa State passing game, which currently ranks 15th in the country at 311 yards per contest. Now imagine what this offense with a rushing attack to complement that, and the Cyclones may have found that missing piece last week in Breece Hall. In his first extended opportunity of the season, the true freshman broke out against West Virginia for 132 yards on 26 carries and scored three touchdowns in the victory. Those three scores broke the school single-game record for touchdowns by a true freshman, and he also became the first true freshman to rush for 100 yards in a contest since David Montgomery in 2016.
The Cyclones have been searching for their Montgomery replacement all season up until this point and may finally have that missing piece to go along with Purdy and this passing attack. Texas Tech and future opponents will now have to account for both parts of the offense in trying to defend the Cyclones.
When Texas Tech Has the Ball
Breece Hall’s performance last week is sure to get the headlines, but Texas Tech had their own breakout at running back last week with sophomore SaRodorick Thompson, who rushed for 153 yards and two touchdowns on 28 carries in the loss. And similarly to Iowa State, this will only add to the difficulty in trying to defend the Red Raiders’ offense, as they also rank in the top 15 in passing offense at 322 yards per game. This, all without their starting quarterback. Alan Bowman, who continues to rehab a shoulder injury that has forced him to miss the last three games. Backup Jett Duffey has filled in admirably in his place, completing 64 percent of his throws for 902 yards and five touchdowns over that span. This will be Duffey’s toughest test to date, though, as the Cyclones rank second in the Big 12 in total defense and fifth in pass defense.
There is no offensive advantage here for either team, as both have top-end passing attacks and emerging playmakers in the backfield at running back with Breece Hall and SaRodorick Thompson. If the offenses negate each other, it comes down to defense then, right? If that is the case, Iowa State is the clear favorite, as they have outperformed Texas Tech in nearly every defensive category to this point. Expect Tech to be fired up for homecoming weekend, especially after coming off a heartbreaking loss, but the Cyclones' defense will make one more play in the end to make it three straight wins.
Prediction: Iowa State 31, Texas Tech 27
— 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.