It is time to turn our attention to the Texas Tech football team’s upcoming game at No. 16 Kansas on Saturday. This will mark just the second time this season that Tech has faced a ranked team joining the week two game against then No. 13 Oregon.
Of course, this isn’t a typical Kansas team as we’ve come to know the Jayhawks. In fact, with three games to go in the season, there is a path to the Big 12 Championship Game for Lance Leipold’s team (though they will need some help to get there).
All time, Tech has dominated this series like no rivalry other in the Big 12. The Red Raiders are 22-2 against KU dating back to the first meeting between these programs in 1965 and currently, the Red Raiders hold a three-game winning streak over the Jayhawks.
However, this year’s game seems to be one that the Red Raiders will be picked to lose. The ESPN.com matchup predictor gives them just a 45.1% shot at coming out on top. Of course, much of the pessimism about this game has to do with Joey McGuire’s 2-7 record on the road as Texas Tech head coach.
To make matters worse, this year KU has been salty in Lawerence. They are 4-0 at David Booth Kansas Memorial Stadium with wins over Illinois, BYU, UCF, and Oklahoma.
On the other hand, Tech is 9-1 all-time at Kansas in Big 12 play. Thus, many in West Texas are asking, could this be the week that the Red Raiders finally get their first ranked road win of the McGuire era?
Most pundits do not believe so and there are a few reasons why Kansas is a tough matchup for the Red Raiders. Let’s look at some areas where the Jayhawks will likely present some issues on Saturday.
Texas Tech struggles against QBs who can run
The last time the Red Raiders faced a true dual-threat quarterback from the state of Kansas, freshman Avery Johnson was galloping worry-free through the Tech defense on his way to five rushing touchdowns in Kansas State’s 38-21 victory at Jones Stadium last month.
He was the latest in a long line of running QBs to have their way with a Tech defense. After years of watching guys like Iowa State’s Seneca Wallace, Texas’ Vince Young, Nebraska’s Eric Crouch, or any number of lesser-known mobile QBs slice through the Red Raider defense, fans in Lubbock are wary every time Tech sees a passer tuck the pall and take off.
That is certainly something KU’s Jason Bean can do. The former high school track star might be faster than every player on the Red Raider roster and, though he’s technically the Jayhawks’ backup, he’s proven to be a player who can guide his team to some huge wins as he did two weeks ago against Oklahoma.
Now in his sixth year of college football (his third at KU after transferring in from North Texas), he has run for 154 yards and a TD on 34 carries this year. That’s not a huge number but he is averaging 4.5 yards per carry.
What’s keeping his rushing numbers a bit suppressed is that he has been protected by the KU coaching staff given that they are in a similar situation to Texas Tech at the QB spot. With their top QB, Jalon Daniels, on the shelf with a back injury, the Jayhawks have only a true freshman to turn to if Bean goes down.
Briefly, in their most recent game, the Jayhawks had to face that reality as Bean left the Iowa State win for a short period of time with what appeared to be an injury forcing walk-on Cole Ballard to take some snaps. How healthy Bean is this week is uncertain but one must believe that his legs won’t be what the Jayhawks major in.
This year, he’s had no more than eight rushes in any game. However, could this be the week that KU tries to lean more heavily on Bean’s ground game given Tech’s struggles against the QB run? Red Raider fans rightly fear that may be the case.
Bean’s legs must be accounted for this week. Tech will likely keep a linebacker or safety in the box to spy on him and try to make him win the game with his arm.
However, we’ve seen too many instances of QBs running wild against the Red Raiders over the years to believe that Bean won’t make at least a few critical plays on the ground. That’s one reason why Kansas is going to be a tough matchup for McGuire and Co. this week.