You are using an old web browser. Such browsers do not support modern web technologies and do not offer proper security. Please update your browser or download one of the others suggested for free.
Mozilla Firefox |
Google Chrome |
Internet Explorer |
Texas Tech Red Raiders at Oklahoma Sooners: Preview and Pick
Texas Tech Red Raiders at Oklahoma Sooners: Preview and Pick
The Texas Tech Red Raiders want to prove that they are not an over rated team. They come into this game undefeated, but many experts are skeptical and think that they don’t have what it takes to be a force in the National BCS picture. That will truly bet tested this weekend when they head to Norman to take on the Oklahoma Sooners. The Sooners are still looking to prove that they belong and if they can expose the Red Raiders it would actually become a signature win for this team.
Texas Tech Red Raiders at Oklahoma Sooners Odds
The college football odds for this game opened up with the Sooners listed as (-7) point favorites. This is mainly due to the fact that the game is being played in Oklahoma and that many people still do not believe in the Red Raiders has a powerhouse in the college football landscape. However it is interesting to know that the line has already moved and can be found at -6.5 at several of the top rated sportsbooks so make sure to check out the latest line before making a wager on this game.
The Red Raiders are undefeated but made some changes on special teams. Tech coaches promised changes in special teams after those units had a bad game against Iowa State, and there were several. The most obvious moves were with return-game personnel.
Slot receiver Jordan Davis took over punt returns. He fielded all five cleanly and returned two, the longest for 11 yards. This little change goes unnoticed, but may be the difference in the big game against the Sooners.
The college football betting trends for this game reveal that the home team holds serve in this meeting as they are 5-2 against the spread (ATS) in the last seven meetings, but the other trends are not so positive for either team.
The Red Raiders are 1-5 ATS in their last 6 games after accumulating more than 450 total yards in their previous game, 1-4 ATS when playing a team with a winning record, but they are 6-2 ATS in the last eight games on the college football highway.
The Sooners are 3-12 ATS in their last 15 games after allowing less than 275 total yards in their previous game, 0-4 ATS in their last 4 games after allowing less than 170 yards passing in their previous game. And 3-8 ATS in the last 11 games after a win.
Texas Tech Red Raiders at Oklahoma Sooners Pick
With plenty of time before kickoff we will wait for more information to come in before we select a side on this contest. Make sure to check back on the day of the game to see who we select as our winner for this big game.
The Red River Rivalry has held more national-title implications.
Bedlam is more prestigious. But for the last decade, Oklahoma's series against Texas Tech — which visits Norman on Saturday — has been its most competitive conference series.
Since 2004, the Sooners and Red Raiders have alternated wins each year, with Texas Tech victories in 2005, 2007, 2009 and 2011.
All of those OU losses, except for 2011, came in Lubbock.
The last time Texas Tech visited Norman, the Red Raiders snapped Oklahoma's 39-game home winning streak with a 41-38 triumph that wasn't nearly that close.
“We're excited to play a good team,” Sooners center Gabe Ikard said. “They came to Norman two years ago and knocked us off so we obviously respect them and their team and their players. We're going to have to have a great week of preparation and get ready for a battle on Saturday.”
In the Bob Stoops era, only Texas has beaten the Sooners more than Texas Tech and only then because of the Longhorns' win earlier this month. If Tech wins Saturday, both will have beaten OU six times since Stoops took over in 1999.
“There's common threads any time you lose a game, whether it's (Texas) Tech or anybody else,” Stoops said last year before playing the Red Raiders. “There are turnover issues, injury issues, execution issues. … There isn't anything spiritual or spooky about it, OK? It's just playing ball.”
The Sooners have turned the ball over five times over the last two weeks, have lost two of their best defenders for the season over the past three weeks and have been inconsistent offensively for much of the season.
That Red Raiders team that came through Norman two years ago was different from the one that comes in Saturday.
Under first-year coach Kliff Kingsbury, Texas Tech is undefeated and No. 10 in the country. The Red Raiders haven't been in the top 10 since the 2008 team rose to No. 2 under Mike Leach before being blown out by No. 5 Oklahoma 65-21.
What's made this Texas Tech team even more potent than in 2011 isn't its offense — which continues to put up big numbers like it did when Kingsbury was quarterbacking Tech from 1999-2002. The Red Raiders' defense, especially against the run, has been stellar.
Texas Tech is giving up just 123.1 rushing yards per game, third in the Big 12 and No. 24 nationally.
The Sooners, though, have the second-best rushing offense in the Big 12 at 227.9 yards per game and West Virginia, in the middle of the pack in the Big 12, had some success running the ball against the Red Raiders on Saturday.
TCU also was able to run the ball effectively against Tech, rushing for more than 200 yards.
This Sooners team is also different.
Two years ago, OU was coming off three consecutive blowout wins, the last two coming over Texas and Kansas. Now, the Sooners come in coming off a loss to Texas and a shaky win against a Kansas team that hasn't won a conference game since 2010.
The last time Texas Tech coach Kliff Kingsbury saw the Oklahoma defense, he was helping Texas A&M embarrass the Sooners in the Cotton Bowl in January.
The Aggies rolled the Sooners for 633 yards and a 41-13 win in Arlington.
Kingsbury was the Aggies’ offensive coordinator, overseeing Johnny Manziel’s Heisman-winning season.
He sees a much a better Sooners defense now, however, as the 10th-ranked Red Raiders (7-0, 4-0 Big 12) travel to play No. 15 Oklahoma (6-1, 3-1) on Saturday.
It’s Tech’s first tough road test of the season.
“I would definitely say so,” said Kingsbury, who is the first Big 12 coach to begin his career 7-0. “Going on the road in that type of environment against that quality of an opponent, it’s going to be a huge challenge for our guys. They’re much improved. It looks nothing like what people saw in the Cotton Bowl. It’s really been impressive what that coaching staff and those players have done this year.”
But the job Kingsbury has done in his first year as a head coach is the most impressive in the league. The Red Raiders, who were predicted to finish near the bottom of the league, have started 7-0 for the fourth time in their history. West Virginia coach Dana Holgorsen was an offensive coach when Kingsbury was Tech’s quarterback a decade ago and saw then Kingsbury’s future as a coach.
“There’s a certain aspect of playing quarterback where you can kind of tell that,” Holgorsen said. “Seeing his leadership ability out on the field. Just knowing how he interacts with the guys.”
If there wasn't already a quarterback controversy brewing in Norman, Oklahoma wide receiver Lacolton Bester might have wound up in the mix, too.
Bester's 49-yard touchdown pass to Sterling Shepard on a wide receiver reverse last week jumpstarted a sluggish Sooners' offense in a 34-19 win over Kansas.
The pass might have been the best one thrown during the entire game.
"Coach (Josh) Heupel and Coach (Jay) Norvell finally decided it was oiled up enough to do it," Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops said. "After I saw Lacolton throw it, I'm wondering why we don't throw it a couple of times a game. He can just pull up in the pocket and find somebody. It was perfect. I knew he could throw it, but not that well."
While Bester won't be added to the quarterback depth chart anytime soon, the play did highlight the Sooners' need for more big offensive plays early in games. Many of their games this year have come down to them trying to put teams away in the fourth quarter.
It's a pattern senior offensive lineman Gabe Ikard wants to see change Saturday when the Sooners (6-1, 3-1 Big 12 Conference) host No. 10 Texas Tech (7-0, 4-0) at Memorial Stadium.
"Our first goal needs to be starting quicker," Ikard said. "We are starting so slow the last two games, it's got to change. We need to come out, play fast, get points on the board. Stop putting our defense in bad spots. That will be very important against Texas Tech with how explosive their offense is."
The Red Raiders are averaging 41 points and 548 yards a game. Their 416 yards through the air is second in the FBS behind only No. 3 Oregon.
Oklahoma has scored more than 40 points only once this year. That was a 51-20 win over Tulsa Sept. 14.
While the Sooners have the No. 1 pass defense in the nation, Stoops said slowing down Texas Tech will be the job of more than just the defensive unit. The offense must help as well.
"You have to play well as a team," Stoops said. "Offense is part of defense. When you play teams that have high powered offenses, you've got to stay on the field to. You play together as a team. You have to complement one another, offensively and defensively. Hopefully we can do that."
The game with Texas Tech has the potential to turn into a shootout, as many of the teams previous matchups became. That includes two years ago when the Red Raiders upset the undefeated Sooners at Owen Field.
A shootout is something the Red Raiders have shown they can do well. Because of an inconsistent passing attack, that has not been a strength for the Sooners as of yet.
"We need to be able to be more efficient in the pass game to open the run game up," Ikard said. "We need to be able to stretch the field vertically. ... We're not far off from being a great offense. We just need to put it all together."
Texas Tech will bring the nation’s No. 10 team, an explosive offense, charismatic coach and sizable chip on its shoulder when the Red Raiders visit Oklahoma Memorial Stadium on Saturday.
Yet, it’s hard to imagine a better time for Oklahoma to face Texas Tech.
The Sooners’ run defense is in shambles with Texas and Kansas having exposed OU’s biggest defensive weakness in back-to-back weeks. OU allowed 255 rushing yards to UT and 185 rushing yards to KU as its defense tries to replace senior linebacker Corey Nelson. Those two teams averaged 5.13 yards per carry on first down as the Sooners had no answers for their running games.
OU’s pass defense is another story. As bad as it’s been when opponents turn to the ground during the past few weeks, the Sooners defense has been relentless and productive when teams try to throw. OU leads the nation allowing 149.71 passing yards per game and ranks second nationally in yards per pass attempt at 5.27.
“It plays right into our hands,” safety Quentin Hayes said of the Red Raiders coming to Norman. “Because we have one of the best pass defenses in the country and they’re a passing offense.”
In other words, the Sooners are lucky it’s not Kansas State, or even Baylor, set to step on the Oklahoma Memorial Stadium turf on Saturday. And yet there’s nothing easy about facing the Red Raiders offense, which leads the Big 12 and ranks No. 2 nationally with 416.43 passing yards per game but ninth in rushing offense at 131.71 rushing yards per game.
So Saturday’s matchup will be strength against strength, may the best unit win.
“Anytime you play an offense like this, that is explosive, it’s always exciting as a defensive player to try to go out and stop them,” cornerback Aaron Colvin said.
OU’s secondary has become a strength after entering the season as a potential weakness. Redshirt freshman cornerback Zack Sanchez has helped supplement Colvin at the other cornerback, while nickelback Julian Wilson and safeties Gabe Lynn and Quentin Hayes have played well. Colvin was the only returning starter who began the season at the same position he started in 2012.
Yet, as confident as the Sooners feel about their secondary, they know the Red Raiders will bring passing excellence they haven’t seen in their first six games.
“We’ve never been tested like we’re going to be on Saturday,” defensive coordinator Mike Stoops said. “We would be fools to think that.”
The past two games have exposed the weakness of OU’s new 3-3-5 defensive scheme with the Longhorns and Jayhawks using power running games to have success on the ground against the Sooners' undersized personnel. This weekend the strength of the Sooners’ three-man front comes into play as the additional speed and athleticism the scheme brings to the table will be critical as OU tries to slow the Red Raiders offense.
“There’s nothing that’s perfect for everything but this is part of the reason we wanted to be more multi-dimensional,” Stoops said. “Regardless of what you do, you have to be able to match up with their skill, their quarterbacks, their offensive line.”
Texas Tech coach Kliff Kingsbury will undoubtedly have a twist aimed at taking advantage of OU’s subpar run defense and Stoops will have a plan to make things difficult for Red Raiders quarterbacks Davis Webb or Baker Mayfield.
“Their defense schematically has changed a bunch from last year,” Kingsbury said. “He does a good job bringing people from everywhere, very athletic, fly around, fundamentally sound. It will be a very, very good challenge for a young quarterback.”
The winner could be determined by which coaching staff and team makes the best in-game adjustments.
“Coach [Stoops] has made a lot of changes, given us a lot of options,” Colvin said. “Texas Tech is a different team, they like to throw it a lot. They’ll probably throw the ball more than they run but you never know. Whatever they do we’ve got to be ready for it.”
The last time Texas Tech traveled to Norman they ended Oklahoma's 39-game home winning streak with a shocking 41-38 upset win over the Sooners. It was the first of three home losses for Bob Stoops since the 2011 season and it brought about an end to an era in which Owen Field was the most intimidating place in America for team's to visit.
Two years later, Tech returns to Norman with an undefeated record and a national ranking higher than Oklahoma's. The last time that happened was the 2008 season and the Sooners won in a lopsided affair, providing a moment that will live on in OU football legacy for quite some time.
Looking for a bit of redemption of his own, Kingsbury has his own demons to exercise in Norman. After beating OU as a freshman in 1999, he lost three consecutive games against the Sooners including a 60-15 blowout in his senior campaign of 2002. This makes Saturday's game an all-around grudge match between two groups trying to erase nightmares that have haunted them through time.
Of course no one is willing to compare this team to the 2008 Sooners but, the point is, Oklahoma has a lot to gain and Tech has a lot to lose in this game. OU was bounced from the conference title race by the Texas Longhorns a couple of weeks ago but can make up some ground by taking down one of the Big Twelve's unbeatens on Saturday. Tech is off to their best start since the 2008 season and seem to be on a collision course with Baylor to settle the conference title. A loss in Norman would be just as catastrophic to them as Oklahoma's loss was to Texas less than two weeks ago.
The Red Raiders are second in the nation in passing offense with an average of 416.4 yards per game. The incredible thing is that they've accomplished this feat with two different quarterbacks making starts. Freshman Davis Webb stepped in for the injured Baker Mayfield and guided Tech to a 37-27 win over West Virginia, in Morgantown, last week. On the season he's completed 60.8% of his passes for 1,427 yards and has thrown 11 touchdowns to five interceptions. He'll most likely get the starting nod against the Sooners.
"We've faced a lot of good offenses, but Tech is doing a lot of good things on that side of the ball, and they're finding ways to get the ball in the air and score points. We know that it will be a challenge, but if we play our game we should be alright." - Aaron Colvin
Junior tight end Jace Amaro is not only the leading receiver for Texas Tech, he's also the best tight end in the Big Twelve. At 6-5/260, he's the embodiment of the type of players Oklahoma's has enjoyed in the past but has also missed in recent seasons. He's almost too big for a defensive back to match-up against and he's too fast for linebackers to run with. Averaging 13.3 yards per reception, he has 56 catches on the season and three scores. He'll definitely be a player that the Sooner defense will be looking to scheme around.
"He's a big target, he's very experienced, he reads coverages very well, he knows how to get open. Those are all important characteristics and he has great hands. He is a very complete player and there are no holes in his game." - Mike Stoops on Texas Tech tight end Jace Amaro
Junior receiver Bradley Marquez leads the team in yards per reception (13.8) and touchdown receptions (5) but don't be fooled into thinking that the Tech passing attack is limited to just two options. Amaro and Marquez are just two of eight players who have caught a combined 19 touchdown passes.
While running the ball has been a distant second option for the Red Raiders they are still very efficient at it. Kenny Williams and DeAndre Washington average 3.5 yards per carry or better and have a combined 10 rushing touchdowns. They are both terrific options to come out of the backfield in the passing game as well.
The Texas Tech offensive line is solid but not great. They are paving the way for a team rushing average of 3.8 yards per carry and have allowed 12 quarterback sacks.
The Tech defense is allowing opponents to score an average of 18.7 points per game which is the fourth best in the conference and 16th in the nation. They are third in the Big Twelve against the rush, with an average 123.1 yards per game allowed, but seventh against the pass with opponents posting 234.9 yards per game. Opposing quarterbacks are completing 56.5% of their passes against a Red Raider defense who has given up six touchdowns through the air while also picking off five passes.
J.J. Gaines has snagged two of the five interceptions to lead the team and also has 16 tackles. A sophomore from Irving, TX, Gaines has a good jump on the ball and can make a quarterback pay for a bad decision. Will Smith is the heart of the Tech defense. The senior linebacker leads the team in tackles (47) and sacks (3.5). The Red Raiders have recorded 18 sacks and forced seven fumbles which has been the catalysis towards the team's resurgent defense. Kerry Hyder seems to live in the opponent's backfield where he's made 10 tackles for loss but he's not alone there. Tech has a combined 21 players who have made 54 tackles behind the line of scrimmage.
In the two games since senior linebacker Corey Nelson's season-ending injury, Oklahoma's run defense has been significantly less productive.
Texas rushed for 255 yards — with two individual 100-yard performances — then Kansas gained 118 yards rushing in the first quarter alone last weekend.
After halftime, though, the Jayhawks managed just 30 rushing yards. Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops said the problem was simply young, inexperienced players lining up incorrectly.
Against hapless Kansas, the Sooner defense could afford a bad start. But Saturday on Owen Field, No. 10-ranked Texas Tech could rout Oklahoma if it takes too long to figure things out defensively.
“We have to be able recognize it and react properly on the field,” Stoops said. “We're working hard on it, but obviously we have to keep doing it. It shouldn't take a quarter and a half to figure it out.”
Oklahoma's run defense played pretty well through the first five games of the season, although there were still occasional leaks. West Virginia's Dreamius Smith rushed for a 75-yard touchdown in Week 2, and Notre Dame's George Atkinson III scored on an 80-yard run in the Sooners' win in South Bend.
The past two weeks, though, the run defense has struggled more consistently without Nelson, who defensive coordinator Mike Stoops called the “conductor on the field.”
“He could get people lined up because he's a very experienced player,” Mike Stoops said.
Without Nelson, the Sooners are relying on linebackers lacking that experience. Sophomore Frank Shannon has been forced into that conductor role without Nelson, Mike Stoops said.
“Frank has to worry about getting Frank lined up, and then tries to help other people,” Mike Stoops said. “That's just familiarity of what you're doing. You have to know what you're doing before you can help anybody else. That's kind of what has happened; we're having a hard time helping each other because we're recognizing and seeing things late, then you really can't help anybody else out.”
True freshman Dominique Alexander and sophomore P.L. Lindley have each taken on greater roles since Nelson's injury. Lindley was recruited as a linebacker, but switched to defensive end early in his career.
After Nelson's injury, OU coaches moved him back to linebacker. He made two tackles and recovered a fumble in the Sooners' loss to Texas two weeks ago, then made his first career start last weekend at Kansas.
“Just overall — the problem we've been having as a team — just knowing my assignments better, reading formations, knowing what they're coming out in and knowing how to line up to them and play each fit differently,” Lindley responded when asked what he felt he needed to improve on personally.
Bob Stoops refused to blame the run defense's struggles on Nelson's absence.
“I don't want to say because it's an excuse and at the end of the day, he's not there and he's not going to be,” Bob Stoops said. “The other guys have to be able to do it.
“But I don't believe it's just them. It's stuff we should have been able to line up to because we anticipated it, worked it, we walked through on Friday and then we don't handle it.”
Coach Kliff Kingsbury didn't have the pressure of being the regular starting quarterback as a true freshman during his playing days at Texas Tech, but he knows Davis Webb is handling his situation as well as anyone could expect.
He's confident Webb can continue playing at a high level despite facing his most difficult challenge yet, as the 10th-ranked Red Raiders visit No. 17 Oklahoma and its top-ranked pass defense in a Big 12 showdown Saturday.
Kingsbury first named freshman walk-on Baker Mayfield the starting quarterback, and Mayfield guided Texas Tech (7-0, 4-0) to five victories before suffering a knee injury in a 54-16 win over Kansas on Oct. 5.
The offense hasn't missed a beat behind Webb, though, as he became the first Red Raiders freshman to pass for at least 400 yards in his first two starts in last week's 37-27 comeback win at West Virginia.
Webb finished 36 of 50 for 462 yards and a pair of 10-yard touchdown passes to Jace Amaro. His performance broke Billy Joe Tolliver's freshman record of 422 yards set in 1985 as he helped erase an 11-point, third-quarter deficit.
Texas Tech is off to its best start since winning its first 10 in 2008 before falling to Oklahoma.
"The more reps he gets, the better he gets and the more confidence he gets," said Kingsbury, who played quarterback for the Red Raiders from 1999-2002. "It's encouraging to have a young QB like that and have guys step up around him and make those plays."
Texas Tech is second to Baylor in the Big 12 in scoring at 41.1 points per game, and its 548.1 total yards per contest rank sixth in the nation. An average of 416.4 of those yards come through the air, a mark that is second in the country behind Oregon.
The Red Raiders' high-powered offense could have a more difficult time putting up big numbers against an Oklahoma defense that ranks ninth in the country with 293.4 yards allowed per game.
The Sooners (6-1, 3-1) lead the nation by giving up an average of 149.7 passing yards and held Kansas to 201 total yards and 16 through the air - the fewest passing yards they've allowed since beating Arkansas in the 2002 Cotton Bowl - in last week's 34-19 win.
"Their defense schematically has changed a bunch from last year," Kingsbury said. "They're very athletic, fundamentally sound and will be a big challenge for a young quarterback."
Kingsbury, though, believes Texas Tech still has plenty of room to grow.
"It's a challenge any time you play in that stadium," Kingsbury said. "We'll have to play our best game. The exciting part for me right now is I know we haven't played close to our best game."
Coach Bob Stoops must have a similar feeling as the Sooners' offense hasn't been very consistent lately. After gaining 263 yards in a 36-20 loss to Texas on Oct. 12, it finished with 450 against the Jayhawks.
Blake Bell went 15 of 25 for 131 yards, two touchdowns and an interception, while six players helped Oklahoma gain 235 yards on the ground. Stoops hopes the offense can control possession to help out the defense against Texas Tech.
"You have to play well as a team," Stoops said. "Offense is part of defense. When you play teams that have high-powered offenses, you've got to stay on the field too. You play together as a team. You have to complement one another, offensively and defensively. Hopefully we can do that."
The Red Raiders gave up no more than 311 total yards in the previous three games before allowing 437 against West Virginia.
"We need to be able to be more efficient in the pass game to open the run game up," Sooners offensive lineman Gabe Ikard said. "We need to be able to stretch the field vertically. We're not far off from being a great offense. We just need to put it all together."
Oklahoma won last season's meeting 41-20, but Texas Tech upset No. 3 Oklahoma 41-38 on Oct. 22, 2011, in its last trip to Norman.
The bandwagon expands daily, with front-running fans eager to adopt an undefeated college football team in the mix for a BCS title.
By now, that list has been trimmed to 10. One of those left standing is No. 10 Texas Tech, where first-year coach Kliff Kingsbury urges his Red Raiders (7-0, 4-0 Big 12) to be wary of late-arriving admirers.
“It doesn’t matter what people are saying now, jumping on board,” Kingsbury said during this week’s news conference in Lubbock. “What matters is what we believed in this team room from Day One. The rest of it really doesn’t matter.”
In particular, Kingsbury is tired of the national perception that the Red Raiders have built their stellar record by feasting on cupcakes, with an overdue comeuppance looming around the next corner. He hopes to apply the brakes to that theory in Saturday’s trip to No. 15 Oklahoma (6-1, 3-1), where the Raiders will enter as seven-point underdogs.
“I know he takes it personally. You can see it in his eyes,” said tight end Jace Amaro, adding that Kingsbury’s speech before last week’s 37-27 victory at West Virginia referenced Tech being placed on “upset alert” by multiple analysts during ESPN’s GameDay telecast that morning. “I think the past three weeks they had us on ‘upset alert.’ He tells us every day how many times people are doubting us, that we have something to prove every single day in practice.”
During those addresses, Kingsbury becomes animated.
“He gets mad like he’s actually a player with us,” Amaro said. “I know it means a lot to him. He just brings a lot of fire and energy to our team. It really helps us pull through on those times where we’re struggling through the game.”
Thus far, Tech has not struggled to light up the scoreboard. The Red Raiders average 41.1 points per game. Their average margin of victory is 22.4 points, with six double-digit triumphs.
But naysayers are quick to mention one of the victims is Stephen F. Austin, an FCS school, and that six of Tech’s first seven opponents have losing records. The lone exception is Texas State (4-3), an FBS newbie not far removed from its own FCS days.
Tech’s soft nonconference schedule, combined with a freshman quarterback tandem, prevents some analysts from buying this team’s top 10 pedigree. That is why Tech keeps getting placed on “upset alert” by ESPN announcers.
Instead of seeing a team with unanswered questions, Kingsbury views himself as the architect of a squad with similar traits to last year’s Texas A&M team. Those Aggies, with Kingsbury as the offensive coordinator, featured a freshman quarterback, posted an 11-2 record and finished in the top 5 of the postseason polls. All of that came after the Aggies were picked to finish in the bottom half of the SEC standings, much like Tech’s projected seventh-place finish in July’s Big 12 media poll.
With both teams, Kingsbury said a feeling of invincibility began to take over in players’ minds as they began stacking wins together.
“When you can continue to prove people wrong, it’s great for a team’s psyche,” Kingsbury said. “That’s been big for us. It’s very similar to the situation we had last year with Texas A&M.”
That mindset has carried Tech to one of the top four starts to any season in school history. Only in 2008, 1976 and 1938 have the Red Raiders matched or exceeded this year’s 7-0 break from the gate.
It is appropriate, perhaps, that the undefeated start will be put to the test in Norman, Okla., the place where Tech saw its school-best 10-0 record derailed during a 65-21 setback in 2008. The 2002 Tech team, with Kingsbury at quarterback, also dropped a 60-15 decision at OU in a season-ending matchup that decided the Big 12 South Division title.
“We definitely want to change history this time,” said Tech defensive lineman Kerry Hyder, a senior who committed to the Red Raiders shortly before the 2008 game.
Unlike members of the 2008 squad, Hyder and other upperclassmen have experienced success in Norman. They were part of the 2011 team that knocked off previously undefeated OU 41-38 as a 26-point underdog. Hyder said the 2011 victory means little this season. But he pointed to last week’s win at West Virginia, where Tech erased a 27-16 deficit in the final 18 minutes, as a comeback that “definitely got some confidence brewing” for these Red Raiders.
Like his coach, Hyder takes any Tech-related criticisms personally and longs to silence naysayers who underestimate this team.
“Any time you take a stab at my university, my players, I take everything to heart,” Hyder said. “We haven’t reached our goal yet; 7-0 is not our goal. Our goal is to win a Big 12 championship. Whenever we get that done, that’s when we’ll relax.”
At that point, perhaps, Kingsbury would be willing to open the bandwagon to new believers.
Playing with tempo: Will Oklahoma try to speed things up offensively in Saturday's game against Texas Tech?
The Sooners have used tempo to their advantage in recent seasons and have shown the ability to go faster at times in 2013.
"For the most part, it's worked out fairly well for us," coach Bob Stoops said. "There will be times when we move forward that we'll pick it up. Overall, some of the times we have, it hasn't worked out real well, either. Particularly in some of the run game we go out there and snap it and they're not ready and somebody misses or hasn't identified who we're blocking because they're all staggering around and you can kind of cross yourself up.
"We have to be a little better at it to keep doing it more. We'll keep trying to."
Getting set: Stoops, as well as defensive coordinator Mike Stoops, said alignments were the biggest problems in the first quarter of last weekend's game at Kansas.
"We have to be able to recognize it and react properly on the field," Bob Stoops said. "We're working hard on it, but obviously we have to keep doing it. It shouldn't take a quarter and a half to figure it out. We'll keep pushing it."
Mike Stoops pointed to a new offensive game plan by the Jayhawks.
"They gave us a lot of different formations and formations we hadn't seen before. That's football; that's what it is anymore," he said. "Ninety percent of what we saw on Saturday, I'd say 80 percent we didn't work one snap."
Ford's touches: Freshman running back Keith Ford had a fumble that went out of bounds against Texas. He wasn't as fortunate when losing a ball against Kansas.
It was the reason he didn't return to the game from that point.
"It's easy from the outside world to say it's just a fumble and let him play again. It's not when you're the one on the field competing and all of a sudden you're on the 30 and in scoring position and you get nothing," Bob Stoops said. "In any kind of game, it doesn't work. You have to take care of the ball."
When will Ford get more playing time?
"When we feel that he's earned his right to be out there and he'll take care of the ball. He'll play," Stoops said. "It's not the end of the world for Keith. He's a great young man, a great kid that works hard and a great player. He just has to learn to take care of the football."
Ford has 20 carries for 119 yards this season.
Defending Amaro: Texas Tech tight end Jace Amaro has caught eight passes in six consecutive games. He leads the Red Raiders with 56 catches for 742 yards.
"He is a very big, strong, physical guy that catches the ball well," OU cornerback Aaron Colvin said. "They basically use him like a receiver when they need to pass and use him as a tight end when they are going to run it. He can do it all, and we realize that."
Amaro was held to three catches for 29 yards in OU's 41-20 victory at Texas Tech last season.