The Oklahoma Sooners are taking a road trip to West Texas on Saturday to face the Texas Tech Red Raiders. Not only are the Red Raiders looking to improve to a 5-0 record, they are touting the No. 1 defense in the country. Is the No. 1 defense just a West Texas desert mirage or are they the real deal?
The Sooners are 18-0 after a loss since 2004 and under Bob Stoops, they have never lost two conference games in a row. But for those of you who know anything about the Sooners of late, you know that numbers don’t matter. Texas Tech was the team that came into Norman in 2011 and broke the nationally held record of a 39-game home winning streak. As mentioned earlier in the week, Oklahoma hasn’t won a game in Lubbock since 2003. So adding in conference realignment and schedule shifts, that would mean the last 3 times they’ve played there.
Those of you who have never been to Lubbock for a game, it is great atmosphere. There is no doubt the fans and the students will be pumped up and ready to move on to win No. 5. Head coach Tommy Tuberville has called for the fans to wear all black to the game and declared it their blackout game for the season. Last season they picked the Texas A&M game as their blackout game of choice and it resulted in a 45-40 Aggie win.
The Sooners are looking for redemption in more ways than one; for the Red Raiders breaking the streak and their loss 2 weeks ago against Kansas State. Not only do the Sooners have some redeeming to do, but their QB Landry Jones needs to get back on track. Jones has been picked apart over the last couple of weeks more than anyone else on the team. And it has been deserved; Jones was the main cause in a huge momentum shift during the Kansas State game with a fumble in the red zone and an interception which resulted in a touchdown. This is one of the last chances Jones has left to prove to anyone that he isn’t the quarterback who crumbles under pressure, but the Jones we all remember from 2010, putting up outstanding numbers.
Texas Tech may boast the No. 1 defensive unit in the country, but how long will that last? Many doubt it will last long given the fact that they haven’t actually played a team with a decent passing game yet. Despite Landry Jones’ issues, he is still the best passer they have faced to date. Depending on the way Jones comes to pay could determine which way this game goes. Tech obviously has a steady defense so far, but one of the main players to keep an eye on is safety Cody Davis. Davis has two interceptions and leads the Red Raiders on tackles with 24. Jones made some hasty decisions with throwing directly into the opponents hands against Kansas State and Davis will be there waiting for him to make the same mistake.
One of the main points of attack besides making sure Jones’ head is in it for the Sooners should be the run game. Tech is ranked second in the Big XII in run defense, but I suspect that number to drop once they get deeper into conference play. They need to give the ball to Damien Williams, Dom Whaley,or even let Roy Finch come in and get some carries. Throwing the ball down field all day isn’t going to cut it, get that run game established early.
Tech QB Seth Doege didn’t have his best performance against the Iowa State Cyclones defense last week, throwing two interceptions with one resulting in a pick-six. He did finish with 3 touchdowns and 331 yards, but the Cyclone defense isn’t as deep as the Oklahoma defense. Doege will have to have a repeat of his 2011 performance against the Sooners if they want to keep up offensively.
It is going to be a cold and rainy day in Lubbock on Saturday and one of these teams is going to break a streak: either Stoops gets his first win in Lubbock since 2003 or Texas Tech will win their first conference home game since 2010. Either way, it all depends on which Sooner team comes to play on Saturday.
The game is scheduled for a 2:30 PM kickoff and will be aired on ESPN 2.