Tragedy struck Stillwater, Okla., and the Oklahoma State community last Saturday morning after a car drove into a crowd of homecoming parade-goers, leaving four dead and injuring dozens of others. School officials, shortly after, flirted with postponing the game, but ultimately decided to continue as scheduled.
Playing under an American flag that was lowered to half-staff in honor of the four deceased victims, Oklahoma State rolled up 583 total yards of offense to rout Kansas 58-10 for the Cowboys’ seventh win of the season.
Texas Tech traveled to Norman last week to face Oklahoma. The Red Raiders’ offense accumulated 425 total yards, but its defense, however, yielded 617 to the Sooners. OU running back Samaje Perine slashed his way to 201 rushing yards and four touchdowns and propelled OU to a 63-27 victory. The loss snapped a two-game Texas Tech win streak amid an impressive 2015 campaign that has already surpassed many fans’ expectations.
Oklahoma State joins Baylor and TCU as the remaining of the Big 12’s unbeaten teams, and with TCU one week away, the Mike Gundy-led Cowboys can’t afford to look past the Red Raiders in what should be a competitive conference matchup.
College Football Podcast: Week 9 Preview Matt Stinchcomb
Oklahoma State at Texas Tech
Kickoff: 3:30 p.m. ET (Saturday)
Spread: Oklahoma State -1
Three Things to Watch
1. Texas Tech’s High-Flying Offense
Although the shock-and-awe brand of offense followed former head coach Mike Leach to Washington State in 2009, current Texas Tech head coach Kliff Kingsbury has reprised it this year in Lubbock. The Red Raiders trail only TCU and Baylor nationally in total offense, averaging 600.3 yards per game.
Opposing defenses this season have struggled to corral Tech quarterback Patrick Mahomes. He’s already amassed 2,851 passing yards and 21 touchdowns. The sophomore has thrown for more than 400 yards on three occasions and his quick-strike offense, which ranks 118th in time of possession (26:11), enters Saturday averaging 46.6 points per game.
Oklahoma State under head coach Mike Gundy is known for its overpowering offense, but his defense this year leads the Big 12 in yards allowed per game (316.3).
2. Musical Quarterbacks
The old adage goes, “If you have two quarterbacks, then you really don’t have one.” But don’t tell that to Oklahoma State signal-callers Mason Rudolph and J.W. Walsh. Gundy has platooned the two in each of the team’s seven games this season. Rudolph has received the lion’s share of snaps and is coming off of a 305-yard, one-touchdown performance last week. Rudolph is 158-for-245 for 2,197 yards and 10 scores in 2015. He’s also thrown seven interceptions.
Rudolph’s counterpart, Walsh, has been the definition of efficient when he’s seen action. But last Saturday he displayed his ability to completely dominate a game. The Denton, Texas, native went 5-for-5 for 68 yards and two touchdowns, while also accounting for 24 rushing yards and three touchdowns. On the year, Walsh is 14-for-18 for 129 yards and seven touchdowns, and has yet to throw an interception.
Texas Tech’s defense has been susceptible to the pass, yielding 280 yards per game through the air, and ranks next-to-last in the Big 12 in total defense (561.5 ypg).
3. Fast and Furious Offenses
Texas Tech enters Saturday’s game with the conference’s third-ranked scoring offense, while Oklahoma State ranks fifth. The Red Raiders have scored more than 50 points in four games this season and average 46 points per game. The Cowboys’ fortified secondary will be tested, but the position group is well equipped to handle Texas Tech’s passing barrage.
Oklahoma State averages 40.3 points per game of its own and has put up more than 50 on two occasions this season. The Cowboys also have been just as effective throwing the ball, as their passing efficiency rating of 153.79 ranks 16th nationally.
While Oklahoma State has won its last six games against Texas Tech, the Red Raiders are 12-5-2 overall at home in the series. Stakes are high for both teams. Tech becomes bowl eligible with a win, while an Oklahoma State victory would make this just the third team in program history to start the season 8-0.
Texas Tech’s road leading up to Saturday’s contest has been difficult, as the Red Raiders have faced three ranked opponents – Oklahoma State will be the fourth.
The Cowboys carry the momentum of last week’s 48-point win over Kansas, but also the emotional burden that accompanies last Saturday’s tragedy. Defense should key the Cowboys to victory against a much-improved Texas Tech squad. This game should resemble your classic, high-flying, offensive-heavy Big 12 matchup. Oklahoma State will move to 8-0 by the time this one ends.
Prediction: Oklahoma State 45, Texas Tech 31
— Written by Elton Hayes, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network. A Washington, D.C.-based sports writer, Hayes is a member of the Football Writers Association of America (FWAA) and he also has been an invited guest on “The Paul Finebaum Show.” Follow him on Twitter @EHDC12.