Sooners and Red Raiders are set to clash on Halloween night
Lubbock, Texas, has a reputation as a house of horrors for opponents of the Texas Tech Red Raiders.
The Oklahoma Sooners haven't lost there since 2009, but they've engaged in their fair share of shootouts in Lubbock during that time period. In their last visit to Tech, they escaped with a 51-46 victory.
A few weeks ago, this matchup looked like a chance for Tech to regain its winning ways versus OU on the Red Raiders' home turf. The Sooners appear to be maturing quickly, though, and currently enjoy a two-game winning streak.
Here's what to watch when OU and Tech square off on Halloween night.
Oklahoma at Texas Tech
Kickoff: Saturday, Oct. 31 at 8 p.m. ET
Spread: Oklahoma -14.5
When Oklahoma Has the Ball
OU assembled its most complete performance of the season last week, including a workman-like effort on the ground from running back T.J. Pledger. Pledger totaled 122 yards and a touchdown on 22 carries versus TCU. The Sooners' leading returning rusher from 2019, Rhamondre Stevenson, will likely see his first action of the season versus Tech after serving an NCAA-mandated suspension. That should add more pop to the OU running game.
Meanwhile, quarterback Spencer Rattler is continuing to develop a rapport with his receiving corps. The Sooners repeatedly challenged TCU with deep balls, and Rattler connected with freshman wideout Marvin Mims for scoring passes of 50 and 61 yards. Between Mims, Theo Wease and Austin Stogner, Rattler isn't hurting for reliable options out wide. Like Stevenson, receiver Trejan Bridges is probably joining that crew this week after coming off a suspension.
The Texas Tech defensive front will have a tough time dealing with an OU offensive line that is starting to hum. The Sooners have started rotating in talented freshman Anton Harrison and UCLA transfer Chris Murray to keep the line fresh and physical.
When Texas Tech Has the Ball
The Red Raiders have taken on a new personality with the insertion of Henry Colombi at quarterback. The transfer from Utah State can do more with his legs than Alan Bowman, as seen last week when he ran for 40 yards on 11 attempts versus West Virginia.
Of course, Colombi's mobility comes at a price: He lacks the precision passing of Bowman. Tech is struggling with injuries at receiver, too. Two of the team's most productive pass catchers, T.J. Vasher and KeSean Carter, have missed games already this year, and their status for Saturday is foggy.
Tech's offensive line could struggle to keep the OU pass rush away from Colombi. The Sooners have 15 sacks through five games thanks in large part to relentless edge rushers such as Isaiah Thomas and Nik Bonitto. OU's best defensive player, defensive end Ronnie Perkins, also could return to the field this week.
The status of T.J. Vasher and KeSean Carter could go a long way to determining if the Red Raiders can hang with Oklahoma on Saturday. Without the pair, it's tough to see how Texas Tech will have the firepower to avoid a blowout.
If they play, however, Tech offensive coordinator David Yost will have an opportunity to create some favorable matchups with his physical receivers versus an OU secondary that is lacking in size. Getting the ball to some of the Tech skill players in space would force the Sooners to complete one-on-one tackles, which is not their strong suit.
Even at full strength, however, Tech probably can't block the Sooners well enough to give Henry Colombi the time he will need to throw effectively. Assuming Spencer Rattler doesn't return to his turnover-prone ways, OU shouldn't have to sweat the outcome of this game in the second half.
Prediction: Oklahoma 45, Texas Tech 21
Podcast: Week 9 Preview and Predictions
— Written by Allen Kenney, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network. Kenney is the founder and editor of BlatantHomerism.com and host of the Blatant Homerism Podcast. Follow him on Twitter @BlatantHomerism.