November 5, 2008

Scouting the Raiders: Saturday Night Special

Live from Lubbock… it's Saturday night!

Unlike that show, the show between Oklahoma State and Texas Tech most definitely looks to be ready for prime time. The No. 9 Cowboys and No. 2 Red Raiders tangle for another Big 12 South faceoff to help decide who wins the division and clinches a spot in the championship game in Kansas City in a few weeks. Last weekend, Tech posted a big win over Texas, knocking the Longhorns out of the top spot. Now it's Tech who is in position to take the No. 1 slot and a win over OSU would keep them in place to do so.

The games between the Cowboys and Raiders are usually fun shootouts - in Stillwater. But can the pyrotechnics be fired off in Lubbock this time?

RED RAIDERS AT A GLANCE
Location:
Lubbock
2007 record: 9-4 (4-4 Big 12)
Game time: 7 p.m. on ABC
Current record: 9-0 (5-0)
Last week: Win, 39-33 over Texas last weekend
Current ranking: No. 2 in both the AP and BCS
Fact of the week: The Texas Tech campus features of statue of famous early rocker Buddy Holly, who was born in Lubbock in 1936. He died in a plane crash in Iowa in 1959.

THE BIG THING YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT…
… the Red Raider offense:
What don't you know about it? Mike Leach has created a winning formula over the years with his pass-happy spread offense. This year is no different, as the Raiders rank first nationally in pass offense (424 yards per game), second nationally in total offense (559 ypg) and third nationally in scoring offense (47 points per game). While their rushing offense is better, it's still not great, ranking 70th at 134 ypg. Graham Harrell has thrown for 3,621 yards and 30 touchdowns so far this season (with only five interceptions). His main target is a name known all over the Big 12 region and nation, Michael Crabtree. So far in 2008, he has 70 catches for 921 yards and 15 touchdowns. Last week against the Longhorns, he had 127 yards and one touchdown. That broke a four-game streak he had of scoring at least two touchdowns, dating back to the Kansas State game on Oct. 4. Michael Batch (588 yards, five scores) and Shannon Woods (552, 10) split the rushing duties.
… the Red Raider defense: Much like OSU, the Raiders are benefitting from a defense which has improved over recent years. Nationally, Tech is ranked 54th (349 ypg) in total defense. They're 10th against the run (98 ypg) but 100th against the pass (250 ypg). Brandon Williams has 10 sacks on the season, ranking him tops in the Big 12 and tied for fifth nationally in the category. McKinnor Dixon follows with six sacks, tied for 5th in the conference. Darcel McBath and Daniel Charbonnet both have five interceptions on the year, good for first in the Big 12 and seventh nationally.
… the coach: What other coach could get on a local television station and talk about how mud rain is so cool? Between that and his pirate kick, Mike Leach is one of the most unique personalities in the game. He's done a great job turning Tech into a stable threat in the Big 12. This season is looking like it'll be the biggest yet for his tenure in Lubbock. The Raiders have a real shot at the Big 12 title and a BCS bowl. And those possibilities have him popping up for coaching vacancies all over the place. But will he really leave Tech after so many years there?

OVERALL THOUGHTS
This should be a great game. Both teams have awesome offenses and improved defenses. It will be interesting to see how the OSU running game performs against the Raiders. The OSU defense will yet again get tested by another top offense, but the unit has performed well against Missouri and Texas. Can they come together solidly for the third time? It might be another shootout, but OSU definitely has a great chance to win. But so does Tech. What budges? Look for Tech to suffer a bit of an emotional deflation after the huge win over rival Texas. OSU 34, Tech 28.

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