The Cyclones are riding high after upsetting the Oklahoma Sooners to run their record in Big 12 play to 2-0. Meanwhile, Tech is still looking for its first conference win.
Can the Red Raiders upend the Big 12 race, or will ISU keep cruising? Here's what to watch when the two teams meet on Saturday afternoon in Ames.
Texas Tech at Iowa State
Kickoff: Saturday, Oct. 10 at 3:30 p.m. ET
Spread: Iowa State -12.5
When Texas Tech Has the Ball
The struggles of Tech quarterback Alan Bowman to stay healthy took another turn last week when a leg injury sidelined him in the first quarter of the Red Raiders' game against Kansas State. Backup Henry Colombi completed 30-of-42 attempts for 244 yards, two touchdowns, and an interception. It was a solid showing but not enough to help the Red Raiders move the ball consistently in a 31-21 loss.
Tech head coach Matt Wells is characterizing Bowman's status as "day-to-day." Needless to say, if Bowman is out on Saturday, Tech's hopes of winning this game decrease dramatically.
Iowa State plays sound defense that emphasizes limiting big passing plays. However, the Cyclones may want to focus on stopping a surprisingly potent Tech running game that is churning out five yards per attempt behind leading rusher SaRodorick Thompson (fourth in Big 12 with 268 yards), especially if Bowman is a no-go.
When Iowa State Has the Ball
In contrast to their opponent's up-tempo offensive attack, the Cyclones play at a methodical pace. Look for them to lean on running back Breece Hall, the Big 12's top rusher, to keep the chains moving on the ground. Last week versus the Sooners, Hall went for 139 yards and two touchdowns on 28 carries as he ran over and around OU defenders all game.
Iowa State can build play-action passing opportunities for explosive plays off its ground attack. The Cyclones also benefit from deploying one of the best possession receivers in the country, tight end Charlie Kolar. Although he only caught four passes for 66 yards against OU, Kolar drew multiple pass interference penalties to extend drives throughout the contest.
Tech will need to come up with ways to counter ISU's physicality. Historically, that kind of matchup hasn't turned out well for the Red Raiders.
Between the uncertainty at the quarterback position for Texas Tech and the Cyclones' rough-and-tumble identity, very little about this game suggests the Red Raiders have much of a chance at winning. The Red Raiders will be hoping to cause some turnovers on defense to steal extra possessions. A big play on special teams wouldn't hurt, either.
Iowa State will minimize the opportunities to commit monumental errors by feeding the ball to Hall and allowing star quarterback Brock Purdy to hit some of his patented high-percentage throws to Charlie Kolar and company. If Tech starts gambling to counteract ISU's ball-control approach, count on the Cyclones to use that aggressiveness against the Red Raiders with misdirection or double moves in the passing game to break off big gains.
A late touchdown by the Red Raiders may make the final margin appear closer than this game really is.
Prediction: Iowa State 35, Texas Tech 21
Podcast: Week 6 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.
(Breece Hall photo courtesy of Iowa State Athletics)