It hasn't exactly been a dream season for the Texas Tech Red Raiders or the Kansas Jayhawks. Though both teams shot out of the gate quickly, they have since stumbled and now sit at the bottom of the Big 12 standings. The Jayhawks have yet to win a conference game, while Texas Tech has a single Big 12 victory.
Needless to say, this game presents an opportunity for both teams to accomplish something positive. Both programs have gone through coaching changes in the offseason, and both would love the chance to send their new coaches to a bowl game in year one. In that regard, Saturday is a must-win for both teams.
Texas Tech at Kansas
Kickoff: Saturday, Oct. 26 at 7 p.m. ET
Spread: Texas Tech -4
When Texas Tech Has the Ball
The Red Raiders know they have something in quarterback Jett Duffey, and they're willing to let him throw it all over the field all day if it helps them get the win. He makes big plays through the air, but he does so efficiently with a 68.6 completion rate and a 3:1 touchdown-to-interception ratio (6 TDs, 2 INTs in five games). He's not much of a scrambler, so the Jayhawks are going to want to find ways to make him uncomfortable in the pocket and force him to run or eat it — the latter of which he does often. Duffey has been sacked nine times this season.
When Kansas Has the Ball
The Jayhawks are more balanced on offense than Texas Tech is, and that lets them hang around in most games. Kansas has a solid signal-caller in Carter Stanley, and the Jayhawks aren't afraid to let him rip it. That said, they are also decent in the run game, with the undersized-yet-effective Pooka Williams Jr. carrying the ball to the tune of 635 yards on the season. Ideally, Texas Tech would rather get into a shootout with the Jayhawks if given the choice, so look for the Red Raiders to stack the box and force Kansas to the air.
Despite each team's losing record, they've both been competive in most of their games. They are both playing with the hope of becoming bowl eligible, and that all starts with a win on Saturday. Les Miles could end up being the difference here, as every game is a big game for the Jayhawks, and no Big 12 head coach has more experience in those situations than Miles. Look for him to implement a game plan that focuses on getting pressure on Jett Duffey, forcing him into making a couple of mistakes. From there, Jayhawks quarterback Carter Stanley has the ability to pick apart the Red Raiders defense and win a close one.
Prediction: Kansas 34, Texas Tech 28
— Written by J.P. Scott, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network. His work has appeared on SI.com, FoxSports.com, Yahoo!, SBNation, USA Today and Bleacher Report. He is a three-time FWAA writing contest award winner. Follow him on Twitter @TheJPScott.