Shape of the Game: Oklahoma

Shape of the Game: Oklahoma

The battle against Oklahoma is the game that, if Texas Tech wins, puts the Red Raiders over the top in terms of public perception and national respect. At this point, and despite a top 10 national ranking, the Tech skeptics are heavy on the ground. But a Red Raider win in Norman puts Tech in legitimate contention not just for the Big 12 title but the national championship as well.

Key Oklahoma Stats
CATEGORYSTATISTICNATIONAL RANK
Rushing Yards Per Game5.1621
Kickoff Return Average25.8214
Field Goal Percentage93.811
Sacks1183
Red Zone TD Percentage46.88110
Scoring Defense17.19
Rushing Defense YPC4.3480
Pasing Defense Efficiency Rating96.234
Total Defense (Yards Per Game)293.49
Opponents Punt Return Average17.54117


The battle against Oklahoma is the game that, if Texas Tech wins, puts the Red Raiders over the top in terms of public perception and national respect. At this point, and despite a top 10 national ranking, the Tech skeptics are heavy on the ground. But a Red Raider win in Norman eliminates most of the naysayers and puts Tech in legitimate contention not just for the Big 12 title but the national championship as well. To say that much is riding on this game for the Red Raider program is putting it mildly.

But winning the game is the trick, and it won't be easy. It never is in Norman.

The key matchup for Tech is the Red Raider offense against the Sooner defense. And while OU is a salty No. 9 nationally in scoring defense, the Sooner stoppers are not invincible.

To begin with, Oklahoma has been a bit vulnerable to the run. Kansas ran roughshod over the Sooners in the first half last Saturday, and the overall stats say that OU allows 4.34 yards per carry, which is only 80th best nationally. Conversely, Oklahoma is one of the nation's best in pass defense.

Kliff Kingsbury needs to have the courage and the confidence to go to the ground game early, and go to it again until it begins to work. Tech's offensive line is slowly rounding into form and there's every reason to believe that trend will continue against the Sooners. If the Red Raiders begin to inflict damage on the ground, Oklahoma's formidable pass defense becomes a bit softer. And because OU rushes the passer poorly, Davis Webb (or Baker Mayfield) will have time to think and operate. It's simply a matter of receivers getting open.

On the other side of the ball, Oklahoma presents somewhat fewer problems. Like almost every school in the Big 12, OU has issues at quarterback. Blake Bell is not bad, but he's wildly inconsistent as a passer. And that inconsistency is not just game- to-game, but series-to-series. You just don't know which Bell will be tolling when the big guy from Wichita drops back to pass.

For that reason, the Red Raider pass defense, which was victimized a bit last week by Clint Trickett, doesn't have a great deal to fear. And you can bet that Matt Wallerstedt won't hesitate to put his DBs on islands and flood the box with defenders to stop the run.

Stopping that run will be an all-day job. The Sooners average 5.16 yards per carry, which is No. 21 nationally. There's no single back in the OU backfield that frightens you, but between Keith Ford, Damien Williams, Roy Finch and Brennan Clay, the Sooners can wear you down with very capable pluggers.

But the Red Raider run defense has been pretty stout in its own right. Opponents average only 3.34 yards per carry, and that figure puts Tech at No. 22 in the country. It will certainly be a war in the trenches, but look for the Red Raider run stop to be just good enough to give the team a real chance to pull off the upset in Norman.

The Final Call: Texas Tech 31 Oklahoma 30

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