Texas Tech's new-look defense will test the Sooners and star quarterback Jalen Hurts
To date, the Sooners are playing like one of the best teams in the nation. Meanwhile, the Red Raiders are working through some growing pains under new head coach Matt Wells, exacerbated by an injury to quarterback Alan Bowman that will keep him out of action for weeks.
Wells will need to work some magic to have his team ready to take down the Sooners in Norman.
Texas Tech at Oklahoma
Kickoff: Saturday, Sept. 28 at 12 p.m. ET
Spread: Oklahoma -27
When Oklahoma Has the Ball
OU's offense versus the Texas Tech defense looks like the most compelling matchup in this game. How often could you ever say that in the past about the Red Raiders?
Tech’s defenders appear energized by the system installed this offseason by new defensive coordinator Keith Patterson. None has stepped up his game more than do-everything linebacker Jordyn Brooks, who has tallied 35 tackles through three games.
Brooks and his teammates will have their hands full trying to stop an OU offense that is steamrolling teams on the ground. In their first three games, the Sooners averaged 8.3 yards per rush, the most in the country. Overall, OU is picking up an average of 10.5 yards every time the offense snaps the ball, so forcing senior quarterback Jalen Hurts to throw doesn’t necessarily represent a more desirable option.
When Texas Tech Has the Ball
Tech’s dynamic offense seems to be missing around Lubbock since Kliff Kingsbury got the ax. Although the Red Raiders managed to put up a combined 83 points in their first two games against Montana State and UTEP, they could muster only two touchdowns against an Arizona defense that is typically a pushover. The fact that Alan Bowman is missing in action this weekend makes the outlook for the offense even less promising.
Fans around Norman will be anxious to see if first-year defensive coordinator Alex Grinch added any new wrinkles during the off week. One move that generated some discussion in Lincoln Riley’s media sessions this week was experimenting with freshman receiver Trejan Bridges at safety, a rarity for a blue-chip recruit in his first year on campus. If Bridges does see action there this weekend, it will offer evidence that his trial run is serious.
No matter what, look for the Sooners to try to pressure Tech’s QB rotation of Jett Duffey and Jackson Tyner relentlessly.
The Texas Tech defense will pose the toughest challenge yet for Oklahoma’s offense, especially with Red Raiders coordinator Keith Patterson getting an extra week to cook something up scheme-wise. In the long run, that’s actually a benefit for the Sooners, who could stand to see how Jalen Hurts reacts in situations where he is forced to throw to keep drives moving.
True freshman's Trejan Bridges’ potential move to safety says something about OU’s play at the position so far, and it’s not good. Tech offensive coordinator David Yost will likely try to find ways to exploit personnel advantages there, which would help out the Jett Duffey-Jackson Tyner combo behind center. Trying to block OU’s aggressive front six represents a far tougher task, though.
A sloppy first half shouldn’t come as a surprise as both squads attempt to shake off the rust from their off week. Once they settle in, the Sooners should find more than enough success moving the ball to cruise to a ho-hum win in front of the home crowd.
Prediction: Oklahoma 45, Texas Tech 17
— Written by Allen Kenney, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network. Kenney is founder and editor of BlatantHomerism.com and host of the Blatant Homerism Podcast. Follow him on Twitter @BlatantHomerism.