A year ago, the Texas Longhorns beat the Texas Tech Red Raiders in a 70-35 shootout that saw the two squads combine for 15 touchdowns. This year's matchup has little chance of producing similar fireworks.
New Texas Tech head coach Joey McGuire appears intent on building a high-flying offense, but the Red Raiders (2-1) currently lack the personnel to reach the same heights as in the past. For its part, Texas (2-1) has developed a tougher defense in its second season under coordinator Pete Kwiatkowski. The combination of those factors points to a total score in the 50s more so than the 100s.
Tech might prefer a lower-scoring affair, frankly. Tech last beat UT in 2017, and with the Longhorns bound for the SEC, time is running short for the Red Raiders to get more wins over their in-state rivals. Here's a look at how the two teams match up in Saturday's contest.
No. 22 Texas at Texas Tech
When Texas Has the Ball
Who will be taking snaps for Texas?
The status of UT quarterback Quinn Ewers looms large in this game. The Longhorns' talented freshman may come back sooner than expected from an injury sustained two weeks ago versus Alabama. If he can play, it should provide a significant bump to an offense that has lacked consistency with backup Hudson Card at the helm.
UT relied on Bijan Robinson to provide most of the offense in last week's 41-20 win over UTSA, and the star running back responded with 183 yards and three touchdowns on 20 carries. The Red Raiders have played well against the run this season, though, yielding 2.3 yards per rush in the first three games of the year. Assuming Card gets the call at QB for Texas, look for Tech to key on Robinson and make the Longhorns move the ball through the air.
When Texas Tech Has the Ball
Tech's offense is off to an unimpressive start in 2022. The Red Raiders scored 20 points in regulation against Houston's lackluster defense two weeks ago, and they mustered only 14 in a loss at NC State last Saturday. Quarterback Donovan Smith threw five interceptions combined in those two games. Tech offensive coordinator Zack Kittley may try to use Smith's skills as a runner more in this game to make life easier for him and the rest of the Tech offense.
Unfortunately for Tech, the Longhorns are playing stingy run defense this year. Although Alabama averaged 6.7 yards per carry against UT, the Horns gave up just 2.2 yards per rushing attempt to ULM and 3.2 versus UTSA. If Texas' stout defensive line controls the trenches, Tech could be in for a long day.
The fact that Texas is favored by less than a touchdown in this game seems puzzling. UT took then-No. 1 Alabama to the wire two weeks ago and dispatched its other two opponents by a combined 63 points. Even if Ewers isn't ready to play, this feels like it should be an easy win for the visiting team.
On the other hand, McGuire's arrival has sparked a new sense of enthusiasm around Lubbock, and the Red Raiders can expect a wild crowd in attendance on Saturday. That kind of environment might fluster the Longhorns in their first road game of the season. A couple of turnovers or an explosive play on special teams could tip the outcome in Tech's favor.
More likely, Tech falls just short of an upset win against a more talented team.
Prediction: Texas 31, Texas Tech 26
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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.
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