Texas Tech football: Predictions for Red Raiders vs. Ducks

Texas Tech football: Predictions for Red Raiders vs. Ducks
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A Texas Tech fan reacts to the game against Texas, Saturday, Sept. 24, 2022, at Jones AT&T Stadium. Texas Tech won, 37-34 in overtime.

Gameday for the Texas Tech Red Raiders and Oregon Ducks has arrived.  While everyone in Lubbock is excited for this night game, it isn’t crazy to suggest that it would have been better for the home team to have this one played in the afternoon.

Today’s temperature in Lubbock is expected to reach 97 degrees, which is a cold front for West Texas this summer.  After all, highs hit 107 around the region on Friday.

Meanwhile, the hottest day of the month thus far in Eugene, Oregon was just 88 degrees.  Therefore, it would have been fun (at least for those of us watching on television) to see the Ducks have to deal with the full afternoon heat.

The late summer heat once had quite a mental impact on another northern opponent, Montana State.  So leery of the temperature in Lubbock, the Bobcats went through warmups without their shoulder pads on when they came to Lubbock in 2019.  That day, the high was only 93 degrees.

That mental edge won’t be there for Tech this time as it will cool off for most of this contest but hopefully, the nighttime crowd will have enough juice to make Jones Stadium a madhouse even when the mercury falls as the sun sets behind the west side of the stadium.

Many are predicting a tight contest this evening with the Red Raiders desperate to get their first win of the season.  However, it will be tough to knock off the high-powered Ducks.  So what might we see at Jones Stadium tonight?  Here are some predictions for the Red Raiders’ biggest home game of the year.

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That mental edge won’t be there for Tech this time as it will cool off for most of this contest but hopefully, the nighttime crowd will have enough juice to make Jones Stadium a madhouse even when the mercury falls as the sun sets behind the west side of the stadium.

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Many are predicting a tight contest this evening with the Red Raiders desperate to get their first win of the season.  However, it will be tough to knock off the high-powered Ducks.  So what might we see at Jones Stadium tonight?  Here are some predictions for the Red Raiders’ biggest home game of the year.

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Dec 28, 2022; Houston, Texas, USA; Texas Tech Red Raiders defensive lineman Myles Cole (5) reacts after a defensive play during the first quarter against the Mississippi Rebels in the 2022 Texas Bowl at NRG Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

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Texas Tech will play much better than last week

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Conventional wisdom suggests that teams make their greatest improvements between week one and week two.  Texas Tech fans hope that holds true for the Red Raiders today.

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The loss to Wyoming was filled with correctable mistakes.  Whether it was QB Tyler Shough making the wrong reads, the pass rushers losing their containment lanes, the defensive backs trying to do more than they were asked to do, or the linebackers not filling the correct gaps, mental mistakes were costly for Joey McGuire’s team.

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A week of learning and improving should do wonders.  That’s why it is likely that we will see a more disciplined effort from the home team tonight.

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We also will likely see Tech play harder this week.  While it would not be fair to suggest that the Red Raiders didn’t play hard enough in Laramie, it is also fair to suggest that they did not play with as much intensity and urgency as Wyoming did.

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Tonight, the Red Raiders will play their tails off.  They will lay it all out on the field to try to shock the Ducks.

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That was a hallmark of McGuire’s program in 2022.  With the exception of last fall’s lone home loss, an ugly showing against Baylor on the night Pat Mahomes went into the Texas Tech Football Ring of Honor, Tech was able to at least match every opponent’s intensity and in most instances, McGuire’s team played harder.

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The Red Raiders won’t win tonight if they don’t out-effort the Ducks.  Oregon has a bit of a talent advantage so Tech needs to be the more intense and physical team.

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That will happen and that’s why this will be one of the most competitive games of the week.  The home crowd will fuel the Red Raiders’ fight and what we will see from Tech will be a much better product than was was put on display against Wyoming.

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Nov 12, 2022; Eugene, Oregon, USA; Oregon Ducks quarterback Bo Nix (10) carries the ball for a touchdown during the first half against the Washington Huskies at Autzen Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Troy Wayrynen-USA TODAY Sports

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Bo Nix will be a problem when he runs

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While Oregon QB Bo Nix is a fantastic passer (he completed almost 72% of his passes in 2022), it will be his legs that give Texas Tech fits today.  That’s an underrated aspect of his game and an area where Tech has struggled for years.

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For his career, Nix has run for over 1,300 yards and 32 TDs.  That includes career highs of 510 yards and 14 TDs on the ground last fall.

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Don’t sleep on his speed.  He once ran for 141 yards on just six carries against Stanford.  He also had an 81-yard rushing effort against LSU,

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Rushing quarterbacks have long tormented Texas Tech.  No one will ever forget the famous Seneca Wallace TD run for Iowa State against the Red Raiders in 2006 and that moment symbolizes this program’s struggles against dual-threat QBs.

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Last season, Kansas State’s QB, Adrian Martinez, gashed Tech for 171 yards and three TDs on just 12 carries, Oklahoma State’s Spencer Sanders had 56 yards and two TDs on 17 rushes, and Ole Miss’ Jaxson Dart ran for 66 yards and a TD on 11 carries.

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Even more disconcerting is the fact that Wyoming’s Andrew Peasely had 66 yards and a TD on the ground against Tech in the opener.  Most of that came after starting linebacker Jacob Rodriguez was lost for the game with a foot injury.

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This week, can redshirt freshman Ben Roberts step in for Rodriguez and keep Nix in check on the ground while making his first career start?  That’s going to be a tough task given that Oregon will likely want to throw plenty of bodies and misdirection Roberts’ way.

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So expect Nix to keep several drives alive with his feet.  He’s a great athlete who can hurt defenses both through the air and by land.  The Red Raiders have struggled against similar QBs for years so it is easy to understand why people in scarlet and black are worried about Nix’s feet as much as his arm.

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Nov 5, 2022; Fort Worth, Texas, USA; Texas Tech Red Raiders running back Tahj Brooks (28) carries the ball as TCU Horned Frogs linebacker Jamoi Hodge (6) pursues on the play during the first half of a game at Amon G. Carter Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Raymond Carlin III-USA TODAY Sports

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Texas Tech OC Zack Kittley will recommit to the run game

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Last week, Zach Kittley simply abandoned the run game until overtime when he relied heavily on the legs of his QB, Tyler Shough.  This week, look for the pass-happy offensive coordinator to be more balanced as he tries to keep the Oregon offense off the field by grinding out yards with Tahj Brooks and the offensive line.

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Tech threw the ball 47 times and asked Shough to drop back probably at least 10 more times on plays that resulted in either sacks or scrambles.  Meanwhile, the running backs got only 21 total carries.

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When things start to wobble for Kittley’s offense, the wunderkind play-caller often reverts to his comfort zone, which is the passing game.  He has to be more patient and disciplined this week, though.

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Tech does not want to get into a shootout with Oregon.  What’s more, running it down Oregon’s throat would set a tone of physicality and domination.

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That’s what Kittley and the offense did in the Texas Bowl win over Ole Miss last season.  Rushing for 242 yards and three TDs for the game, Tech ran the ball seven times on its first two possessions to take an early lead.

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Look for Tech to try to apply a similar strategy this week to make Oregon get into a rock fight.  If that happens, the Red Raiders could be within striking distance in the fourth quarter and pull out a win.

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Dec 29, 2021; San Antonio, Texas, USA; The Oregon Ducks mascot on the field during the second half of the 2021 Alamo Bowl against the Oklahoma Sooners at the Alamodome. Mandatory Credit: Daniel Dunn-USA TODAY Sports

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Oregon: 38 – Texas Tech 31

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I want so badly to believe that the nighttime Jones Stadium magic we all love will sway things in Texas Tech’s favor this week.  However, it’s been over a decade since that mojo resided in Lubbock.

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Sure, Tech went 6-1 at home last year including wins over Texas and OU.  That was a great start in trying to conjure up the ghosts of Jones Stadium’s past.

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Also, this will be the most charged home atmosphere Tech has seen at a home night game since maybe 2015 when a top-5 TCU team came to town and escaped with a win thanks to a last-minute TD catch off of a deflected pass.

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In the end, though, Oregon will be just a bit too talented for the Red Raiders.  If Jacob Rodriguez were playing, I’d probably pick Tech because he’s that good at playing the run.

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However, when he went out last week, Wyoming’s pitiful offense started to impose its will on Tech so I fear what Oregon’s high-powered attack could do to a Red Raider defense starting a redshirt freshman in Rodriguez’s place.

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Also, Oregon has advantages at the QB position, the running back position, the offensive line, and probably at kicker.  Thus, the task facing this Red Raider defense will be stout.

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Tech will hang around all day.  The Oregon defense has yet to be tested this year after massive offseason rebuilding efforts.  Will their vanilla gameplan in week one against a little sister of the poor (Portland State) give them an edge strategically or will it mean they will be rusty and out of sorts as they try to implement their full system for the first time this year?  Hopefully, the latter.

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In the end, I trust Nix more than Shough, though.  While I expect Shough to be better than he was against Wyoming, I think Nix is just a better player.

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Ultimately, Nix will make just enough plays in the 4th quarter to give his team a seven-point win.  Of course, I was wrong last week when I predicted a 38-17 Texas Tech win so here’s hoping I go 0-2 on the season tonight and Tech doesn’t.

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