Game of the Week: No. 10 Texas Tech vs. No. 15 Oklahoma
Each week ComRadio staff writer Aaron Carr will highlight a matchup in college football that he considers to be the “Game of the Week.” If you’re going to enjoy some college football action then this is the ONE contest that you do not want to miss. Carr’s, “Game of the Week” selection for week nine of the college football season comes to you live from Norman, Oklahoma, where a top 15 showdown could usher in a changing of the guard in the Big 12 Conference.
The Game: No. 10 Texas Tech Red Raiders vs. No. 15 Oklahoma Sooners
Let me begin by issuing a formal apology to the Big 12 Conference. Through the first eight weeks of the college football season we have highlighted games featuring the SEC, the Pac-12, the Big Ten and the ACC, but NOT the Big 12. Following the release of the initial BCS standings last Sunday night, the Big 12 fortune has taken an optimistic turn.
Old school fans of Big 12 football heard that two teams from the conference were in the top 10 of the initial BCS standings and immediately knew the two without even having to look for themselves. “Surely Oklahoma cracked the top 10.” Nope...bummer Sooner! (Sorry couldn’t help it). “Oh, well if the Sooners didn’t get in then Oklahoma State definitely did right?” Sorry no Pokes here. “Good Lord you mean to tell me that Texas snuck in the top 10 after crushing Oklahoma in the Red River Rivalry game two weeks ago!?” Wrong again, the Longhorns would be a long shot for the BCS top 10.
If I may steal a line from Leonardo DiCaprio’s character Calvin Candie from Django Unchained, “Gentleman, you had my curiosity, but now you have my attention.” If the Sooners, Cowboys and Longhorns weren’t the top two Big 12 teams in the initial standings then who could it possibly be!? Well for those of you that had the pleasure of reading the second graph of this column, you know one of those teams is the No. 10 Texas Tech Red Raiders. The second would be the No. 8 Baylor Bears. Kids, this isn’t your daddy’s Big 12.
The Red Raiders sideline general, 34-year-old Kliff Kingsbury, is the poster boy for new kid on the block. Female fans probably wouldn’t be bothered if Kingsbury appeared on a poster, as he bares a striking resemblance to film star/resident heartthrob Ryan Gosling. Seriously, look that up and be amazed. But I digress. Kingsbury, a former record-setting Texas Tech quarterback himself, is quickly changing the culture down in Lubbock, TX.
After serving as the offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach last season for Texas A&M and leading some kid named Manziel to the Heisman Trophy, Kingsbury instantly became a hot commodity for teams looking to fill their head coaching vacancy. After former coach Tommy Tuberville left Texas Tech to take
the same position at Cincinnati, after only one year in Lubbock, the Red Raiders suddenly had that vacancy on their hands. Call it fate, call it luck, call it the perfect storm, but Texas Tech AD Kirby Hocutt made the call to hire Kingsbury, and the San Antonio native signed on the proverbial dotted line.
In his first season at the helm, Kingsbury has been an instant hit for the program. How much of a hit, you ask? Well, Kingsbury is the first head coach in Big 12 history to start his career 7-0 and the Red Raiders are back in the top 10 for the first time since 2008. Interested yet? What’s more, quarterback guru Kingsbury has Tech ranked as the second best passing attack in college football, averaging 416 passing yards a game. The Raiders also feature two quarterbacks on the roster that have thrown for nearly 1,500 yards a piece. That’s right, I said TWO. The scarier part is, they’re BOTH freshmen.
If you combine Baker Mayfield and Davis Webb’s stats, you’ll get one quarterback whose numbers read like this: 239-for-378, 2915 yards with 19 touchdowns and 10 interceptions. Not bad for a pair of newbies. Mayfield, who threw for 360 or more yards in three of his first five games, didn’t suit up the past two weeks due to a knee injury. No worries though as Webb passed for over 400 yards in each of the past two contests, including a season-high 462 in last week’s victory over West Virginia.
While Texas Tech serves as the new school, its opponent on Saturday represents the old school of the Big XII. The Oklahoma Sooners, led by 15-year head coach Bob Stoops, have been the staples of success for the conference since time began. Since Stoops took over in Norman, the Sooners have won eight Big 12 titles, tops in the conference. If Texas Tech is leading a changing of the guard, then it’ll have to go through the conference’s steadiest team.
The 2013 edition of Sooner football has been another successful start to the season, save for one GIGANTIC black eye in its 36-20 loss against archrival Texas in the Red River Shootout. The fifteenth ranked Sooners are everything Texas Tech isn’t. The Sooners can’t throw the ball in the ocean (97th worst passing attack in the country), but they’ll run it right down their opponent’s throats with the 17th best rushing attack in the land at 227 yards a game. Tech on the other hand couldn’t run from a sloth as it has the 98th worst rushing attack in college football.
Luckily for the Sooners their defensive game plan plays right into the hands of their opponent. Oklahoma’s run defense has been left for death in back-to- back games, allowing 255 rushing yards against Texas and 185 yards last week against the lowly Kansas Jayhawks. Safe to say the 98th worst rushing attack in the country won’t be putting up those kinds of numbers until you realize that
the Jayhawks, even after rushing for 185 yards last week, have the 99th worst rushing attack in the country.
Will Tech decide to establish the run with a former quarterback calling the offensive shots? It may not have a choice. For all the no good, the bad and the straight up ugly that has been the Sooners run defense the last two weeks, there is a silver lining. Oklahoma boasts the top passing defense in the country, holding opponents to 149 passing yards a game and a second-best mark of 5.27 passing yards per play allowed. That number is nearly a third of Texas Tech’s season average. Something’s gotta give inside Oklahoma Memorial Stadium.
Players to Watch:
TE Jace Amaro, Texas Tech: With the Raiders putting up 416 passing yards per game, someone has to be the primary beneficiary of all those passes. Enter Amaro, whose 56 receptions and 742 receiving yards are tops on the Tech roster. Amaro’s 742 receiving yards are also second best in the Big 12. Not too shabby for a tight end. Texas Tech likes to spread the wealth on offense as four players have at least 30 catches, but the junior from San Antonio has proven to be a more than effective safety blanket as well as go-to option for the Raiders two young gunslingers.
DE Charles Tapper, Oklahoma: The sophomore pass rusher out of Baltimore has quickly made his way onto the radar’s of Big 12 offensive coordinators, after registering his second multi-sack game of the season in last week’s win over Kansas. Tapper, whose 4.5 sacks are tied for second best in the conference, also had a pair of quarterback takedowns in the win over TCU. After only appearing in one game last year as a freshman, the 6-4, 261 pounder is making an impact on the Sooner defense. He also leads the team with six tackles for loss.
By the Numbers:
22 When facing a fellow Big 12 coach for the initial time, Oklahoma head coach Bob Stoops is 22-1. He faces Kingsbury for the first time on Saturday. The lone blemish on Stoops’ record in such games is a 16-13 loss to Oklahoma State back in 2001, when the Pokes were coached by some guy named Les Miles.
3 Oklahoma has a perfect 3-0 home record under head coach Bob Stoops when the Sooners face a team with an undefeated 5-0 record or better.
16 No other kicker in college football has made as many field goals as Texas Tech junior kicker Ryan Bustin. The Kilgore, TX, native is 16-for-19 on the season.
Aaron Carr is a senior majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
About the Contributors
Senior / Broadcast Journalism
Aaron is a senior majoring in broadcast journalism. He is a Massachusetts native with a passion for New England sports. While he majors in broadcasting, Aaron has been called “the best writer in ComRadio” by his peers, a distinction he greatly values. Because of his writing ability, Aaron was named the Sports Editor for ComRadio earlier this fall. Aaron contributes to various ComRadio productions such as coverage of the NFL Draft, Penn State football and men’s basketball. He also does play by plays for professional, collegiate and high school sports including the State College Spikes and Penn State women’s volleyball. Aside from his work with ComRadio, he is also an intern with ESPN Radio 1450 and a former sports staff writer for The Daily Collegian.