No. 18 Oklahoma State enters Lubbock on Saturday to square off against No. 15 Texas Tech and attempting to remain relevant in the Big 12 title conversation. After suffering a loss to West Virginia back on September 28, the Cowboys have rattled off three straight wins against subpar competition.
That won’t be the case against the high-powered Red Raiders on Saturday, who are looking to recover from their first loss of the season against Oklahoma.
If the Cowboys want to win this game on Saturday, they’ll need to force a few turnovers and then put together some extended drives on offense to keep Texas Tech’s offense on the sidelines. How might they do that?
Junior running back Desmond Roland, who ran for a career-high 219 yards and four touchdowns against Iowa State a week ago, is the answer to that question. While no one should expect Roland to repeat that performance against a solid Texas Tech defense (which ranks sixth in the Big 12 against the run, allowing an average of 142 rushing yards per game on the season), if he is able to extend drives with his legs and burn clock, OSU has a solid chance of winning this game.
Roland has managed to inject some life into the Cowboys’ running game that has been inefficient and inconsistent so far this season. With quarterback Clint Chelf most likely starting for Oklahoma State and not the more mobile J.W. Walsh, the weight of the running game falls squarely on the shoulders of Roland and senior Jeremy Smith.
Smith, who has seen the majority of time in the backfield this year, is managing only 3.3 yards per carry and has only rushed for 92 yards and two touchdowns in the last four games. At the very least expect Roland and Smith to split time in the backfield on Saturday, but if Roland gets rolling again it could be the Desmond show for the rest of the season.