The Oklahoma State Cowboys beat a ranked Kansas State squad 26-13 in Week 5 and jumped into the Top 25 as a result. Oklahoma State is now 4-1 overall and 1-1 in Big 12 play with a narrow 36-30 loss to Texas the only blemish. The Pokes now have an opportunity to climb higher in both the polls and the league standings should they beat the Texas Tech Red Raiders in Lubbock on Saturday. Texas Tech lost to Oklahoma 55-16 a week ago, dropping the Red Raiders to 2-2 overall and 0-1 in conference action.
Oklahoma State at Texas Tech
Kickoff: Saturday, Oct. 5 at 12 p.m. ET
Spread: Oklahoma State -10
When Oklahoma State Has the Ball
Running back Chuba Hubbard is currently the nation’s leader in rushing yardage (938) and is tied for the FBS lead with 10 rushing touchdowns — six of which have covered 30 yards or more. Hubbard set a new career high with 296 rushing yards against K-State, including an 84-yard score. It was the third 200-yard effort in five games for Hubbard this season. He also ran for 121 yards against Texas.
Texas Tech might be tempted to crowd the line of scrimmage in an effort to slow down the Oklahoma State rushing attack, which ranks No. 6 nationally with 291.0 yards per game and sits 10th on the FBS leaderboard with an average of 6.01 yards per attempt. However, All-America receiver Tylan Wallace and redshirt freshman quarterback Spencer Sanders would likely render that plan a mistake.
Sanders, who is also a big part of the Pokes’ rushing attack with 380 yards so far, has targeted Wallace early and often through the air. Wallace ranks third in the country in receiving yardage (618) and has scored on six receptions while averaging 22.07 yards on his 28 receptions this season. Overall, Sanders has completed 64.5 percent of his passes for 1,043 yards and eight touchdowns with five interceptions.
Though Texas Tech has improved defensively under new head coach Matt Wells, the Red Raiders have allowed an average of 571.5 total yards per game and 7.23 yards per play during the recent two-game losing streak. To date, Tech has surrendered 390.8 total yards per contest and 5.9 yards per snap.
When Texas Tech Has the Ball
Texas Tech quarterback Alan Bowman leads the Big 12 in passing with an average of 340.0 yards per game this season. The problem? Bowman suffered a significant injury during Tech’s Week 4 loss to Arizona and won’t be back for several weeks.
Rice transfer Jackson Tyner started against Oklahoma but quickly gave way to Jett Duffey, who will see the field first against Oklahoma State. Duffey completed 11-of-20 pass attempts for 120 yards against the Sooners. A more gifted runner than either Bowman or Tyner, Duffey ran seven times for 16 yards in the loss.
Armand Shyne, SaRodorick Thompson, and Ta’Zhawn Henry have formed a running back committee for the Red Raiders. All three have more than 30 carries and more than 100 rushing yards to their credit this season. Shyne leads the team with 256 yards on the ground. He and Thompson have both scored three TDs.
There is a similar distribution among the Texas Tech receiving corps, as six players have caught 10 or more passes and eight others have caught at least one. T.J. Vasher has been the top target for the Red Raiders to date, hauling in 19 passes for 248 yards to lead the team. Vasher and Nevada transfer McLane Mannix share the team lead with two touchdowns.
Oklahoma State has played slightly better than average on defense, having allowed 5.12 yards per play, which ranks No. 47 nationally and third among Big 12 defenses. Despite fielding a young defensive line and losing senior standout linebacker Calvin Bundage to a back injury before the season, the Cowboys have slowed down opponents’ rushing attacks. The Pokes have surrendered 3.91 yards per carry, which ranks fifth in the conference and 60th nationally.
Texas Tech has shown some improvement under its new coaching staff, statistically speaking, most notably in rushing offense and overall defense. The Red Raiders have added more than 40 rushing yards per game to their average from last season and have shaved off nearly 60 total yards from the average yards allowed per contest last year. But the typical growing pains that accompany most coaching changes have limited the Raiders' progress, and injuries, especially at quarterback, have not helped.
Longtime Oklahoma State head coach Mike Gundy, on the other hand, has the Cowboys operating like a well-oiled machine. The Cowboys’ strengths this season — rushing offense and run defense — have largely been led by a bevy of first-year starting players. As a result, the Pokes appear ready to challenge for a spot in the Big 12 title game, while Texas Tech will likely need an upset or two to qualify for a bowl game. Given the questions facing the Red Raiders this week, such an upset isn’t likely.