Oklahoma State looks to remain unbeaten at Texas Tech
LUBBOCK, Texas (AP) — Oklahoma State will try to add to the program’s history when the 12th-ranked Cowboys take on Texas Tech on Saturday.
Only twice before has Oklahoma State started a season with eight straight wins — 1945 and 2011.
They’ll try to add 2015 to that list against the Red Raiders, who are coming off two less-than-stellar away outings — a closer-than-expected 30-20 win to cellar-dweller Kansas and a 63-27 blowout loss to No. 14 Oklahoma.
Texas Tech coach Kliff Kingsbury said there is a prescription to cure his team’s recent ills. The Red Raiders can become bowl eligible with a win.
"Just need to start faster," he said. "You know, there’s no recipe for that, just got to do it as a team and work on it at practice and try to get better at it."
The Cowboys are riding a three-game win streak by a combined victory margin of 95 points into Lubbock. OSU coach Mike Gundy said being ahead early — his team led 21-0 in 2010 and 2011, and 21-3 in 2013, all after the first quarter — is critical in Texas Tech’s inhospitable stadium.
"It’s a difficult place to play," he said. "If you can play well in the first quarter, you can give yourself a chance to be on some kind of a level playing field."
The Cowboys are still reeling from four people being killed when a car crashed into the homecoming parade last week. Texas Tech plans a moment of silence before the game and has asked fans to avoid using "Wreck ‘Em," as a regular hashtag for the football team.
Here are some things to watch for when Texas Tech hosts Oklahoma State:
RUN FIRST?: Texas Tech’s defense has struggled against the run all season, giving up 281 yards per game to rank No. 125 nationally. Last week the Red Raiders gave up 405 yards on the ground, seven rushing touchdowns and 24 first downs rushing at Oklahoma. Red Raiders defensive coordinator David Gibbs expects teams to run. "Why would you pass it?" he said. "I would just hand it off every snap, but I’ve said that all year, until we show we can stop it."
SACK ATTACK: Texas Tech will be up against the Big 12’s sack-leading Cowboys (27), and if recent contests are any indication, Patrick Mahomes will be under plenty of pressure Saturday. In their first six games, the Red Raiders’ offensive line allowed just two sacks. The past two games, Mahomes has been sacked nine times. OSU DE Emmanuel Ogbah leads the Big 12 and is fifth nationally with eight sacks. "They know what’s coming, so they’ll have to play their A game to try and slow those guys down," Kingsbury said. "They have a great front."
DUEL QBs: Oklahoma State uses two quarterbacks, Mason Rudolph and J.W. Walsh. Gundy says both are unselfish and put team first. "They’ve been tremendous," he said, adding that coaches have done a good job of choosing. "We need both of them, and we’re fortunate that they’ve both played pretty well up to this point."
MAHOMES FACTOR: Though he had his lowest passing yardage of the season (233) last week against Oklahoma, Mahomes can light it up on the ground and through the air. He’s thrown 21 TD passes (sixth nationally) and run for seven more (tied for 36th nationally). The Cowboys know he’s going to be difficult to defend. "He creates things," Cowboys defensive coordinator Glenn Spencer said. "He doesn’t get shaken up. They’ve got talent spaced out all around the field, so he’s got a lot of choices. I think he’s smart and a dangerous kind of guy."
RED ZONE OFFENSE: Despite the offensive firepower of the Red Raiders, it’s the Cowboys who shine in the red zone. OSU has scored 94 percent of the time when inside the 20, 64 percent of those as touchdowns. Texas Tech has gotten points 86 percent of the time, 59 percent of those as TDs.
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