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Previewing the Schedule: Can Texas Tech Be as Potent Without Pat Mahomes?



Oklahoma State’s first 2017 conference road game is in Lubbock, Texas, a town where they’ve won four straight. That’s the recent trend in a series dating back to 1935. Surprisingly, OSU is slightly in the red against the Red Raiders (20-21-3).

But as of late, OSU has owned Tech, winning the last eight meetings. The last time the Red Raiders got a win in the series, Kliff Kingsbury was one year removed from his playing days and was a first-year quality control coach at Houston.


When: Saturday, September 30, 2017 at TBD


Where: Jones AT&T Stadium, Lubbock, Texas (Capacity: 60,454)

Last meeting: In 2016, Oklahoma State held on for a wild 45-44 finish after Texas Tech missed a PAT that many thought should have been a 2-point conversion attempt. The Cowboys used a little luck to get their eighth win. It was also the debut of OSU’s polarizing barbed-wire, “Ed Hardy” helmets.


Texas Tech’s offense has been the stuff of legend — or at least the stuff of highlight reels. The Red Raiders have been top-five nationally in scoring offense the last two seasons behind now Kansas City Chief Patrick Mahomes. It led the nation in total yards in 2016 and came in second to Baylor in 2015. But Mahomes is gone and his backup for the last two years, former Iowa QB Nic Shimonek, looks to be the next in line. We will find out if this offense is truly plug-and-play.

Tech does return several weapons, but leading receiver Jonathan Giles felt transferring to the new Matt Canada offense at LSU — and sitting out a year — was better than sticking around for his junior season in Lubbock. Keke Coutee, Cameron Batson and Dylan Cantrell are still there and will likely be top targets for Shimonek.

The Red Raiders’ top three running backs are back in Da’Leon Ward, Demarcus Felton and Justin Stockton. But those three combined for just 936 yards and seven touchdowns a year ago. Tech was dead last in the Big 12, rushing for just 103.6 yards per game at 3.2 yards per carry. It led the nation in passing yards but depended far too much on Mahomes’ arm and athleticism. That won’t be an option in 2017. To give Shimonek and the struggling defense a chance, Tech’s running game is going to need an exorcism.


Here’s where it gets ugly. The thing about defense is — the Red Raiders don’t play much of it. Now you could argue that a prolific up-tempo offense that averaged a nation-leading 86.8 plays per game puts extra stress on its defense. Which it does. But there are several teams in the Big 12 in that ballpark who manage to put up some semblance of resistance to scoring. Tech ranked last in scoring defense and total defense in the nation. That’s 128th out of 128. The were better than only Oregon in defensive points per drive and opponent first downs.

And there’s really not a lot that leads us to believe it will take a huge step forward in 2017. Defensive coordinator David Gibbs is back for his third crack at pulling off a miracle. The Raiders do return Jordyn Brooks, the true freshman linebacker who led the team in tackles last season, and young safeties like Jah’Shawn Johnson and Kisean Allen. The turnover of the senior-laden 2016 defense may not be a bad thing (see above stats). If Gibbs is going to right this ship, it will be on the backs of these young players.

Tech also returns linebacker Dakota Allen who spent a one-year hiatus with East Mississippi Community College. After two years in Lubbock, Allen was released from the program after being indicted on a second-degree felony count of burglary. He’s apparently done enough in a year to not only return to the Division-I ranks — but to return to the same team! He finished his redshirt freshman season in 2015 with 87 total tackles and six tackles for loss. And Gibbs will apparently take all the help he can get.

Key Matchup

Oklahoma State’s offense with Tech’s defense.

Okay, seriously. Tech was porous in the ground game last season allowing 5.7 yards per carry and 37 touchdowns. As Oklahoma State continues to polish its own running game, this will be at worst a good practice in controlling the field opposite a high-tempo offense.


Kingsbury is the only Big 12 coach to win his first seven games. Unfortunately, he’s 17-26 since that historic start. The Cowboys have a much better team and a much better coach. During the Cowboys’ eight-game win streak against the Red Raiders, they’re +21 in average scoring margin, but lately they seem to be close games down the wire. I think Oklahoma State is too good, regardless and makes it five straight in Lubbock.

Summer Prediction

Oklahoma State wins 42-32.

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