The Texas Tech Red Raiders travel to Morgantown to take on the West Virginia Mountaineers in a matchup of Big 12 teams looking to get back in the win column. The Red Raiders were doubled up 70-35 by Texas to open conference play and fell to 3-1 last week following a strong start to the season. West Virginia is 2-2 (0-1 Big 12) after a last-second field goal gave Oklahoma a 16-13 victory in Norman last week. That snapped a two-game winning streak following the Mountaineers' season-opening 30-24 loss to Maryland.
Texas Tech at West Virginia
Kickoff: Saturday, Oct. 2 at 3:30 p.m. ET
Spread: West Virginia -7
When Texas Tech Has the Ball
Quarterback Tyler Shough was a big part of Texas Tech's 3-0 start, but the Oregon transfer suffered a broken collarbone early in the game against Texas and will be unavailable for several contests. Shough completed 69.6 percent of his passes for 827 yards, an average of 9.5 yards per attempt, with six touchdowns and three interceptions. He also scored twice on the ground. Henry Colombi will start against West Virginia after throwing for 324 yards and three touchdowns, as well as an interception, on 17-for-23 passing (an eye-popping 14.1 yards per attempt) against the Longhorns. Colombi also scored on a rushing attempt in mop-up duty against FIU earlier.
Erik Ezukanma should help Colombi's transition to full-time starter. Ezukanma leads the Red Raiders with 23 receptions (including one touchdown) and 406 yards. He is one of 16 FBS receivers to average more than 100 receiving yards per game. Troy transfer Kaylon Geiger has also made an impact with 232 yards and one touchdown on 14 receptions. Tight end Travis Koontz has 10 catches for 81 yards and a team-leading two touchdowns.
Shough's injury occurred shortly after running back SaRodorick Thompson returned for the Red Raiders. Thompson missed the first two games of the season while recovering from right shoulder surgery; he had four carries for 11 yards and a touchdown against FIU and then ran for 54 yards on 16 attempts against Texas. Tahj Brooks carried the load for Tech with Thompson sidelined and impressed with 284 rushing yards and four touchdowns in three games, including back-to-back 100-yard performances to open the season. Brooks missed last week's game due to injury but could return this week. Xavier White (148 yards, TD) provides depth for the Red Raiders, who rank sixth in the conference and 68th nationally in rushing offense (160.0 ypg).
When West Virginia Has the Ball
Two quarterbacks also saw the field for West Virginia last week, though it was a strategic move instead of a necessary one. Jarret Doege has started all four games for the Mountaineers this year and has completed 62.4 percent of his passes for 889 yards and six touchdowns with four interceptions while averaging 7.6 yards per pass attempt. Doege posted a season-high completion rate (69.0) against Oklahoma but recorded a season low in yards (160) and was held without a touchdown pass for the first time. He was also picked off once.
Garrett Greene capped WVU's 17-play, 75-yard opening drive against the Sooners with a two-yard touchdown run and has 141 rushing yards and three scores on 23 carries. Greene is 7-for-12 as a passer and has thrown for 76 yards in parts of three games, including 3-for-4 for 19 yards last week.
Greene is West Virginia's second-leading rusher, trailing only Leddie Brown's 321 yards and five touchdowns on 66 carries. Brown was held to 56 yards on 15 carries last week but broke loose for 161 yards on 19 attempts in the 27-21 victory over Virginia Tech on Sept. 18. He also has 11 receptions for 88 yards and one touchdown. Brown is one of four Mountaineers with double-digit receptions, joining Bryce Ford-Wheaton (15 rec., 219 yds., TD), Sam James (15, 187, 3), and Winston Wright Jr. (17, 172).
Texas Tech allowed 290.3 total yards per game and 3.98 yards per play during its 3-0 start and held all three opponents under 100 rushing yards. However, the Red Raiders were gashed for 639 yards (more than 300 both passing and rushing) and an average of 8.52 yards per snap by the Longhorns last week. Meanwhile, West Virginia limited Oklahoma to 16 points, 313 total yards, and a modest 4.89 yards per play. The Mountaineers have allowed 308.3 yards per contest and 4.58 yards per play overall, both of which rank fourth in the conference, as well as 36th and 25th in the country, respectively.
West Virginia has a better defense, and though the Mountaineers are 2-2, both losses came by a single possession against opponents that are still undefeated. WVU also has the benefit of home field, and, perhaps more importantly, the Red Raiders must travel for the second consecutive week — this time 1,500 miles across the country. Tech should keep it close, but expect West Virginia to improve to 1-1 in Big 12 play.
Prediction: West Virginia 31, Texas Tech 28
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