The Oklahoma State Cowboys have owned the Texas Tech Red Raiders for the last decade, rolling up eight wins in the last 10 meetings between the two squads. The Pokes (9-1, 6-1 Big 12) have more on the line this year than usual when the two squads take the field on Saturday evening.
An OSU win would keep the team on track for an appearance in the Big 12 title game in December and ensure their hopes of making the College Football Playoff remain intact. For Tech (6-4, 3-4), the goal is attaining the program’s first guarantee of a winning season since 2015. A victory on Saturday would give the Red Raiders a seventh win.
Here’s what to watch when OSU travels to Lubbock this weekend.
No. 9 Oklahoma State at Texas Tech
Kickoff: Saturday, Nov. 20 at 8 p.m. ET
Spread: Oklahoma State -10
When Oklahoma State Has the Ball
The Cowboys continue to ride their rugged ground game. They rushed for a staggering 447 yards on 62 attempts a week ago in a 63-17 win over TCU. Multiple OSU running backs got in on the act against the Horned Frogs, led by Jaylen Warren’s 113 yards on 17 carries with three touchdowns.
Meanwhile, OSU is enjoying a run of efficiency from quarterback Spencer Sanders. The third-year starter isn’t throwing for big yards, but he has eight touchdown passes and just one interception in the last four games. Stopping the receiving duo of Tay Martin and Brennan Presley would go a long way towards fueling a Tech upset.
Since Sonny Cumbie took over as interim head coach of the Red Raiders prior to their ninth game of the year, Tech has prioritized shutting down opponents on the ground. In the last two weeks, Oklahoma and Iowa State both averaged a paltry 3.6 yards per rushing attempt. Forcing OSU to throw should be a prerequisite for Tech.
When Texas Tech Has the Ball
Inserting Donovan Smith at quarterback last week sparked the Tech offense in the Red Raiders’ 41-38 win over Iowa State. Tech accumulated 529 yards of total offense, with Smith completing 25-of-32 attempts for 322 yards, three touchdowns and an interception. Receiver Myles Price was the primary beneficiary of Smith’s presence in the passing game, catching nine passes for 175 yards and a score. Physical wideout Erik Ezukanma also provided a reliable target in the red zone, snagging two scoring strikes.
This may come as a surprise to fans who haven’t been paying attention in 2021, but the Cowboys will pose a tougher test on defense for the Red Raiders than what they saw last week versus Iowa State. Oklahoma State ranks first in the Big 12 in yards allowed per carry and per pass attempt. Tech’s best play against this unit may be going up-tempo and trying to turn the game into a high-flying shootout.
Beware of the trap, Cowboys. With the annual Bedlam rivalry game against Oklahoma on deck, looking ahead to the Sooners must seem tempting for the Pokes.
After upsetting Iowa State a week ago in Lubbock, Texas Tech should enter this contest riding high. Oklahoma State can expect to see the best the Red Raiders have to offer. A focused effort from the Cowboys would bode well for Bedlam, on the other hand.
OSU may look a little distracted early, and it should come as no surprise if Cumbie designs a few wrinkles to catch the Pokes' defense by surprise. Mike Gundy's team, however, has too much on the line to falter at this point in the year.
Prediction: Oklahoma State 31, Texas Tech 23
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— 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.