Oklahoma State looks to stay alive in the Big 12 race against a Texas Tech team looking for momentum after last week's comeback victory
The Red Raiders (3-5) are looking to build some momentum this week following a comeback victory over Baylor two weeks ago. Texas Tech doesn't need to win out to reach the coveted six wins for bowl eligibility this season since those requirements have been waived by the NCAA, but it needs to start stacking some victories here to be under consideration.
As for Oklahoma State (5-2), trouble might be looming following another defeat in the Bedlam rivalry, being trounced 41-13 by Oklahoma. The Cowboys are in a three-way tie for second place in the Big 12 standings with Texas and Oklahoma and essentially need to win out to have a shot at a conference championship. The issue — OSU is 0-2 vs. the two teams they are tied with. This is a must-win against Texas Tech.
Texas Tech at No. 23 Oklahoma State
Kickoff: Saturday, Nov. 21 at 12 p.m. ET
Spread: Oklahoma State -10.5
When Texas Tech Has the Ball
Quarterback Alan Bowman is back in the saddle, as announced by head coach Matt Wells after completing 14-of-23 passes for 181 yards and a touchdown in the come-from-behind win over Baylor two weeks ago. Bowman came on for an ineffective Henry Colombi, who threw for just 76 yards in the first half, but it sounds as though the plan is to use both quarterbacks situationally on Saturday.
The last time Bowman was in Stillwater was a successful trip, as the then-freshman threw for 397 yards and two touchdowns, though injuries throughout his college career have prevented him from becoming a household name. Now he has a tough challenge against an Oklahoma State secondary that is allowing just 188.1 yards per game through the air this season, which ranks 19th nationally.
To help either quarterback, Tech needs more on the ground, where it ranks seventh in the Big 12 in rushing at 135.0 yards per game. Injuries to multiple players throughout the season have contributed, but the Raiders should have their full complement of rushers in the backfield on Saturday, including starter SaRodorick Thompson and upstart freshman Tahj Brooks, who had two touchdowns against Baylor. Texas Tech is also back to full strength at wide receiver with T.J. Vasher, Erik Ezukanma, and KeSean Carter all back in the lineup.
When Oklahoma State Has the Ball
The goal for Oklahoma State on Saturday is simple — to not let the Sooners beat them twice, coming off such a disappointing performance last weekend. The Cowboys' offense struggled to get anything going against Oklahoma, with quarterback Spencer Sanders getting knocked out of the game in the first quarter with an apparent head injury, and they rushed for just 78 yards with a limited Chuba Hubbard in the backfield. Sanders did wind up returning in the fourth quarter in relief of an ineffective Shane Illingworth, but the game was out of reach at that point. That's a positive sign, though, for Sanders' status for this week's matchup with Texas Tech.
Would you believe it if I told you that a team with Hubbard is 55th in the country in rushing offense in 2020? Part of that is due in part to the star running back not being 100 percent healthy of late, but the offensive line has struggled for the better part of the season. In the last three games, the Cowboys are averaging just three yards a carry with one rushing touchdown. Something has to give Saturday vs. the 80th ranked rush defense in the country for the Red Raiders.
Numbers and stats aside, this feels like a good spot for Texas Tech on Saturday against an opponent that had its championship hopes dashed last week in a rivalry game. Motivation a factor on Saturday? There are a few big-name players on that Oklahoma State sidelines that bypassed entering the NFL in hopes of a conference championship. Those aspirations are now, for the most part, out the window. But there is some renewed confidence for Texas Tech with Bowman back in the lineup that should allow for the Red Raiders to keep this game close throughout.
Prediction: Oklahoma State 30, Texas Tech 27
Podcast: Week 13 Preview and Predictions + Interview with Kirk Herbstreit
— Written by Mike Bainbridge, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network. Bainbridge is a graduate of Northern Illinois University. Follow him on Twitter @MBainbridgeCFF.