Considered by some to be a potential contender in the Big 12, the Longhorns finally secured their pivotal sixth win last week over West Virginia. Beating Tech would guarantee a winning record in head coach Tom Herman’s first season. That probably won’t help him win any popularity contests in Austin.
Texas Tech head coach Kliff Kingsbury never has any problem winning popularity contests around Lubbock. Unfortunately, his team isn’t winning enough games. Beating Texas and getting to a bowl might convince the school’s administration to give him another year. It seems like a loss will almost certainly cause Tech to move on from its favorite son.
Texas Tech at Texas
Kickoff: Friday, Nov. 24 at 8 p.m. ET
TV Channel: FOX
Spread: Texas -9
Three Things to Watch
1. Playing for coach Kliff
Kingsbury’s shaky grasp on his job isn’t exactly a secret around the college football world. His players almost certainly have to understand the stakes when they take the field on Friday.
Will that produce an inspired effort from the Red Raiders? If not, it could be a sign that everyone is ready to move on.
2. Sam’s the man
We’ve seen it every time UT has taken the field with Sam Ehlinger at quarterback – the offense just responds better to the freshman field general than sophomore Shane Buechele. Last week was no exception, as Ehlinger completed 12-of-19 passes for 136 yards with two touchdowns and an interception. Most importantly, the Longhorns left West Virginia with a 14-point win.
Texas head coach Tom Herman has to keep an eye on Ehlinger’s usage Saturday to guard against the injuries that have sidelined him for stretches this year.
3. Which team runs the ball more effectively
These are two of the least efficient rushing attacks in the Big 12. Texas Tech is gaining 4.2 yards per attempt, sixth in the conference and 82nd nationally. Texas is producing an anemic 3.7 yards per carry, eighth in the Big 12 and 90th overall.
Whichever team breaks through on the ground has a good chance to come out victorious.
Texas beating West Virginia by two touchdowns last week was a misleading final margin. With Mountaineers QB Will Grier and his mangled finger knocked out of the game early, WVU’s offense posed no threat to the Longhorns’ defense.
No matter. Texas Tech looked equally listless to WVU in putting up all of three points versus TCU last week. It would be inaccurate to suggest that the Red Raiders have quit on the season, but the team appears to be beaten down.
Texas doesn’t seem to have the firepower to blow out any conference opponent. That doesn’t mean the Longhorns can’t eventually break Tech’s spirits, however. UT should find enough points by the middle of the third quarter to cruise to an easy win.
Prediction: Texas 31, 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.