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Texas Tech-Mizzou Preview

Willie Springer
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Texas Tech-Mizzou

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Bowl eligibility is on the line when the Missouri Tigers (5-5, 3-4) host the Texas Tech Red Raiders (5-5, 2-5) for their last ever home game as a member of the Big 12 Conference. The Saturday afternoon 2:30pm kickoff at Faurot Field will mark the 9th all-time meeting between these programs with Mizzou leading 5-3. The Tigers had won three straight in the series until Tech surprised them with a 24-17 win in Lubbock last season.

While having pressure to get to a bowl is distraction enough, being the reasonable expectation that Mizzou fans have for the football program, a couple of other external things happened this week. First, former team captain Derrick Washington was given a 5-year prison sentence for sexually assaulting a former tutor. Second, head coach Gary Pinkel provided another shocking headline this Fall by being arrested for DWI on Wednesday night. As a result, Pinkel will serve a suspension during this game. The Mizzou coach can return to work next Thursday, and will be on the sideline for the game against the Kansas Jayhawks. Defensive coordinator Dave Steckel will be the acting head coach.

Looking at the Tigers:

Mizzou will look to win consecutive games for the first time as they will honor 26 seniors on Saturday afternoon. Beating the Texas Longhorns in their final conference matchup is a great accomplishment, but the victory itself was nothing great. The Tigers’ effort was solid for the most part, but a big reason for not allowing a touchdown was that Texas was not firing on all cylinders plus were suddenly short-handed. A key to earning their seventh straight bowl eligible season, the Tigers need to keep working hard, and not get into any sort of comfort zone. Just as soon as the so-called tough part of the schedule looks to be over, teams can have a tendency to relax. It can be easy to give into that mind-set. Finish off the regular season strong, and the postseason rewards will take care of themselves.

Losing tailback Henry Josey, who is still a strong All Big 12 candidate for work done, is another big blow for the Tigers. Go back to beginning of the season when Mizzou lost De’Vion Moore and Kendial Lawrence. Both veteran backs are back in the mix, and Lawrence certainly made his presence felt last weekend running for 106 yards on 18 carries. Along with James Franklin, the Mizzou rush attack ought to have a field day against the Tech defense that gives up 242.8 rush yards per game plus 26 rush TDs. Like when they faced the Baylor Bears, the Tigers will probably have to put up a lot of points. Consistently moving the ball and avoiding turnovers are two simple keys for success.

Seeing the Missouri defense give up just 247 total yards, a season low, and one field goal was great after allowing 73 points in the 2 games before last Saturday. If the Red Raiders can hang on to the ball, they will move down field. They still love to pass a bunch, but head coach Tommy Tuberville has restored more balance to Tech’s offense with the running game producing just under 132 yards a game. If the weather is unfavorable on Saturday, the Red Raiders may have to play underneath with their pass game, so solid tackling by the Tigers defense will be especially important. Possibly not having cornerback Kip Edwards, who will be a game time decision, already hurts a pass defense that gives up 258 yards per game.

Looking at the Red Raiders:

Texas Tech have been one of the absolute worst teams in college football over the past three weeks since their upset of then #1 Oklahoma back on October 22. They lost by margins of 34 points, 32 points, and 60 points. They got off to a 4-0 start, but their recent skid has put their streak of eleven straight seasons of bowl eligibility into jeopardy.  If they lose to the Tigers, the Red Raiders will have had their longest losing streak since losing five in a row in 1993.  Being their last game in Columbia since the Tigers are leaving, Faurot Field remains the only stadium in the Big 12, including league defectors Nebraska and Colorado, where they have failed to win.

The Red Raiders still throw the ball a bunch and remain one of the best teams in the nation averaging 342.7 yards per game. QB Seth Doege is throwing for 333 yards a game while completing 67.6 percent of his passes with 24 touchdown tosses against only 7 interceptions. Tech’s rush attack took a big blow losing lead rusher Eric Stephens for the season due to a knee injury, but running backs Aaron Crawford and DeAndre Washington have done an efficient job in his place. Their offense has been one of the most efficient
teams amongst all teams in the red zone going 41-45 on red zone attempts, plus 34 touchdowns.

Lucky for Tech, they do not have to deal with Henry Josey, but still have to contain James Franklin, Kendial Lawrence, and De’Vion Moore. The Red Raiders run defense ranks near the bottom of the FBS giving up over 240 yards a game. Their pass defense is much better giving up 229.2 yards per game, but they will be without top pass rusher, defensive end Scott Smith. Defensive tackle Donald Langley is another player they lost last week on their defensive line. Not letting Mizzou get off to a quick start will be important for Tech’s defense since they have been outscored 99-54 in the first quarter this season, 92-30 not counting the Oklahoma game.

Staff picks:

Tom Ackerman (3-3): 38-17, MU

Ron Jacober (3-3): 31-17, MU

Scott Warmann (6-2): 27-24, MU

Willie Springer (4-5): 34-20, MU

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