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Louisiana Tech Bulldogs vs. Texas Tech Red Raiders Preview and Prediction

Patrick Mahomes

Patrick Mahomes

Louisiana Tech and Texas Tech enter Saturday’s non-conference matchup in Lubbock with identical 1-1 records. Both squads produced big wins over FCS competition and lost hard-fought contests against quality Power Five opponents. Las Vegas oddsmakers set the scoring total for the game at 81 — the highest of any Week 3 contest — meaning a shootout is expected.

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Louisiana Tech at Texas Tech

Kickoff: Saturday, Sept. 17 at 7 p.m. ET
TV Channel: FSN
Spread: Texas Tech -10.5

Three Things to Watch

1. Texas Tech QB Patrick Mahomes
Mahomes is the nation’s leading passer through the first two weeks of the 2016 season. Mahomes has completed 68 of 96 pass attempts (70.8 percent) for 1,023 yards and nine touchdowns thus far. No other FBS team has passed for more than 1,000 yards through the first two weeks of the year, and in fact, the Red Raiders’ passing offense (586.5 yards per game) is outpacing the No. 2 team (Cal, 481.5 ypg) in the category by more than 100 yards per game.

Mahomes has succeeded by spreading the ball around through the first two games. Three Texas Tech receivers have 12 receptions or more and five have eclipsed 100 receiving yards. Also, seven different Red Raiders have hauled in a touchdown pass.

Furthermore, Mahomes has gained 101 rushing yards and has scored three touchdowns on the ground, both of which lead the team. A threat through the air and on the ground, Mahomes leads the nation with 562.0 total yards per game – 55.5 yards per game ahead of Louisville’s Lamar Jackson.

2. Louisiana Tech’s Stingy Defense
The Louisiana Tech defense will obviously have its hands full with the Red Raiders’ prolific passing attack. In addition to leading the nation in passing, the Red Raiders are a perfect 14-for-14 when it comes to scoring opportunities in the red zone and are averaging 7.87 yards per play, which ranks sixth nationally.

However, Louisiana Tech has held each of its first two opponents to fewer than 300 total yards and has forced six turnovers. In the season opener, the Bulldogs held Arkansas to just 79 rushing yards (3.4 yards per carry) and picked off two Razorback passes.

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The Bulldogs have been especially stingy on third downs, holding Arkansas and South Carolina State to a combined 4-for-24 (16.67 percent), which ranks sixth in the FBS.

3. Can the Texas Tech Defense Make a Stop?
The Texas Tech defense got off to a strong start in a 69-17 opening victory over Stephen F. Austin. The Red Raiders held the Lumberjacks to 370 total yards — including just 58 rushing yards on 1.7 yards per carry. Stephen F. Austin managed only a field goal in the first half as Texas Tech opened up a 45-3 lead. The Red Raiders also forced two interceptions, recovered a fumble and recorded five sacks.

Last week, however, Texas Tech allowed eight total touchdowns to Arizona State’s Kalen Ballage, including seven scores on the ground. Ballage was one of two Sun Devils that ran for more than 100 yards and the Red Raiders surrendered 301 rushing yards (5.7 yards per carry) as well as 351 passing yards. Texas Tech also failed to force a turnover or record a sack last week and lost 68-55.

Final Analysis

It’s difficult to look ahead without looking behind, though college football fans often pay too much attention to the transitive property. Still, it is worth noting that Texas Tech was not considered to be a Big 12 championship contender in the preseason and TCU was. And, while the Horned Frogs were beaten by Arkansas at home last week, the Razorbacks were fortunate to beat Louisiana Tech in Week 1. The Bulldogs fell 21-20 despite starting quarterback Ryan Higgins being suspended for the game.

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Texas Tech has one of the nation’s most explosive offenses, but Louisiana Tech also is tough to stop. Wide receiver Trent Taylor ranks eighth nationally with 256 receiving yards on 19 receptions and has has three touchdown catches. After notching a career-high 178 yards last week, Taylor has hit the 100-yard mark in 10 career games.

Nevertheless, Patrick Mahomes is a special quarterback and Texas Tech has an advantage in talent at nearly every position. The Red Raiders also have home-field advantage. Expect the Red Raiders to play just well enough on defense to earn a victory, giving Texas Tech momentum heading into conference play.

Prediction: Texas Tech 45, Louisiana Tech 35

— Written by Nicholas Ian Allen, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network. Follow him on Twitter @NicholasIAllen.

(Trent Taylor photo by Tom Morris/LATechSportsPix)