When: 6:00 p.m. on Saturday at Jones AT&T Stadium in Lubbock, TX
Records: Texas Tech (4-1, 1-1), TCU (2-2, 0-1)
Last meeting: TCU defeated Texas Tech, 34-18, in Fort Worth on Nov. 7, 2020
What’s at stake?
For Texas Tech, it’s continuing to prove that this offensive system is more than a Band-Aid on a bullet wound. Despite the countless injuries they’ve suffered on that end of the ball, they looked more than competent against a well-regarded West Virginia defense. I also think this gives the Red Raiders’ run defense a chance to regain some confidence. Remove the Texas smothering, and Texas Tech is allowing just 2.1 yards per carry this season. Obviously you can’t just omit an entire game, but I do think this Red Raiders’ run defense is better than its being credited for. It’s no small ask against the TCU run game, but this is a season-defining opportunity.
For TCU, the fanbase is starting to get frustrated at the quarterback play. The passing game has been inconsistent and lacking the flashes we’ve seen from a few TCU quarterbacks over the years. The Horned Frogs have dropped two straight games heading into Lubbock. They’re on shaky ground and need to solidify themselves as either a competitive team, or someone that will be right in the middle of the Big 12.
When Texas Tech has the ball
Henry Colombi is really starting to look like the dude. He’s averaging 10.3 yards per completion, is completing 70.7% of his passes, and has thrown three touchdowns to one interception. In the game against Texas, he came in and threw some bombs down the field. He didn’t have much of a choice to do anything else in a multiple possession deficit, but it gave fans a sense of how his arm had progressed.
Against West Virginia, he was smart and calculated. He had some good completions down the field, but he mainly played within Sonny Cumbie’s system and spread the ball out well — 11 different receivers caught a ball in Morgantown. This feels like the game where Colombi can really show that he’s earned the starting job, not just had it fall into his lap with Tyler Shough’s injury.
I’m really interested to see what Texas Tech gets out of SaRodorick Thompson in this game. Thompson has three touchdowns in the three games he’s played this year, but they’ve each been one yard punch-ins. He’s averaging just 3.5 yards per carry this season, a significant drop off from someone who led the Red Raiders in rushing yards the past two years. Granted, he had shoulder surgery this offseason and is likely still not 100% healthy. But Texas Tech might need him to be. Tahj Brooks looked like he’d be the guy in the backfield for the Red Raiders earlier this year, but as he’s out with a leg injury it can’t be overstated how much Texas Tech needs Thompson to step up.
When TCU has the ball
If Texas Tech wants to win this game, they’re going to have to slow down the Horned Frogs’ running game. It all starts with Zach Evans, a back who is dominating on the ground and should probably be getting even more carries. Evans has 443 rushing yards and three touchdowns through four games. He’s averaging 7.8 yards per touch early into this season, the 10th most in the NCAA.
The dynamic game of Evans opens things up even more for quarterback Max Duggan, who has run for 1,224 yards in 26 collegiate games. Duggan has looked decent through the air this season, but his greatest threat is still what he can do on the ground. You don’t need to tell Texas Tech that twice, considering he ran for a career-high 154 yards and three touchdowns against the Red Raiders last season.
When I offered game-by-game predictions on the Texas Tech schedule before the season started, I picked this game as the one they should win but don’t. The Red Raiders have found themselves in that situation time and time again over the last few years. They get inches away from victory and then disaster strikes. But you can tell, something is just a little bit different about this team. Instead of tripping over themselves, they’ve won the three close games they’ve been in this year. They’ve got some juice, and I think they’re gonna win this football game.
I don’t trust Duggan to beat Texas Tech through the air. The Red Raiders are probably going to have trouble with Evans, but I don’t know if TCU is going to give him the ball enough. This has the potential to be a defining game for two key areas of this Texas Tech team: its defense and its quarterback. The Red Raiders’ defense needs to show it can stop the run the way it did before Bijan Robinson blew its wheels off. Colombi needs to prove the threat of his arm and solidify his spot on this team. I think both of those things are more than possible in this game. Expect a good football game, but under the lights on homecoming night in a blackout Jones AT&T Stadium, it’s hard to pick against the Red Raiders here.
Score: Texas Tech 31, TCU 24
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