OU vs. Texas Tech: Red Raiders Have Shown They Can Win in Norman


Over the next month, Oklahoma will face the three highest-scoring teams in college football this season, and it starts this weekend with OU vs. Texas Tech.

The Sooners have won 16 of its 22 games against Texas Tech and 9 of 11 contested at Gaylord Family-Oklahoma Memorial Stadium. One of those two home losses to the Red Raiders, however, still sticks heavily in the minds of OU fans.

On the night of Oct. 22, 2011, Texas Tech ended Oklahoma’s 39-game winning streak at home with a 41-38 upset of the Sooners. Many think of that game as the most stunning loss in Bob Stoops’ time at Oklahoma, although you could argue that this year’s Red River loss to Texas may rival the Texas Tech’s improbable win in Norman four seasons ago.

Oct 10, 2015; Dallas, TX, USA; Oklahoma Sooners head coach Bob Stoops prior to the game against the Texas Longhorns during the Red River rivalry at Cotton Bowl Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

The Sooners have won three straight games over Texas Tech since that fateful night in 2011, but the Red Raiders come to Norman this weekend with a team that sports another high-scoring offensive juggernaut.

From an offensive standpoint, this year’s encounter between the two teams should be especially interesting. Sooner offensive coordinator Lincoln Riley, who was an offensive assistant under Mike Leach at Texas Tech, has brought the Tech-style Air Raid offense to Oklahoma and has Red Raider transfer Baker Mayfield leading the new OU offense at quarterback.

These two teams are like mirrored images of one another on offense. And while Texas Tech’s quick-strike, high-powered offense ranks third in the country so far this season in points scored and second in total offense, the Sooners aren’t doing so badly in those two statistical categories, either, at 13th and 14th, respectively.

The next in the line of outstanding Texas Tech quarterbacks is Patrick Mahomes, who is in his sophomore season at the controls of the prolific Red Raider attack. The Red Raiders are averaging 49.4 points a game and have exceeded 50 points in four of their seven games this season. They are on pace to break the current school record for most points in a season (569, an average of 43.8 per game, in 2008).

Mahomes has completed 66 percent of his passes this season for 2,618 yards and 20 touchdowns. He has thrown for over 300 yards in 9 of his last 10 games.

Mahomes has a variety of receiving targets when he passes the ball. Ten different Red Raider receivers have caught touchdown passes this season, but senior Jakeem Grant, with 50 receptions, second in the Big 12, is his primary receiving option.

Sep 19, 2015; Fayetteville, AR, USA; Texas Tech Red Raiders quarterback Patrick Mahomes II (5) looks to pass in the fourth quarter against the Arkansas Razorbacks at Donald W. Reynolds Razorback Stadium. Texas Tech defeated Arkansas 35-24. Mandatory Credit: Nelson Chenault-USA TODAY Sports

When the Red Raiders score, they generally do so quickly. In their 46 touchdown drives this season, 21 have been in under two minutes and 10 have been under a minute. Texas Tech averages just over 26 minutes per game in time of possession. Among FBS (Football Bowl Subdivision teams, that ranks 119th out of 127.

As explosive as the Oklahoma offense has been this season, the Sooners are averaging nearly 50 yards less rushing per game (197 to 159) and 97 fewer passing yards (427 to 330).

The one offensive area in which OU might have the advantage in Saturday’s game is when the Sooners run the ball. Samaje Perine and Joe Mixon will go up against the Big 12’s worst run defense. The Red Raiders rank 122nd out of 127 teams in that category, allowing 264 yards per game. That should get the attention of Sooner offensive coordinator Lincoln Riley.

The Sooners, however, hold a decisive edge over the Red Raiders defensively. The OU defense ranks 23rd in the nation and tops in the Big 12, allowing opponents 322 yards per game, which is almost 300 yards less than Texas Tech is averaging on offense (624 yards). While the Red Raiders rank third in the nation in points scored in 2015, the Sooners are 24th in scoring defense (allowing 18.8 points per game).

Both offense are expected to move the ball on Saturday, and there will probably be plenty of points scored, but the key matchup and what could ultimately determine the outcome of the game will be how well the Oklahoma defense performs when Texas Tech is on offense. The Red Raiders have the second-best passing offense in the country (428 yards per game through the air), while the Sooners come into the game allowing 152 passing yards per game, ninth best in the nation.

Nov 8, 2014; Norman, OK, USA; Oklahoma Sooners cornerback Zack Sanchez (15) during the game against the Baylor Bears at Gaylord Family – Oklahoma Memorial Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

It is probably fair to say, though, that OU has not really faced a pass offense as prolific as Texas Tech’s this season. The same could also be said, however, about the defenses the Red Raiders have gone against in their first seven games.

Seventeenth-ranked Oklahoma is the third top-25 opponent Texas Tech has faced this season. The Red Raiders lost by three points at home to TCU, but was soundly defeated by Baylor (63-35) in a game played in Arlington, Texas. Neither school has played a common Big 12 opponent thus far.

Three Key Factors in the Game

1.) Pressure on the quarterback: Both quarterbacks can hurt you badly if given enough time to work through their multiple receiver progressions and find the open man. They can also beat you long. For success on defense, the team that causes the most disruption and applies the most pressure on the quarterback will put its team in the best position to come out on top in this game.

2.) Shut down the run game: Both teams like to be able to set up their passing attack by successfully running the ball. Texas Tech has actually done better with its rushing offense this season than the Sooners.

3.) Win the turnover battle: Oklahoma has forced one more turnover than they have lost this season (plus 1), but the Red Raiders have been more opportunistic in that category with eight interceptions and a plus-6 turnover ratio, 14th best in the nation. The Red Raiders are 11th in the country in forcing turnovers. Six of the seven pass interceptions recorded by the OU defense have come in two games (three each against West Virginia and Kansas State), and the Sooners won both of those games going away. Oklahoma cannot afford to turn the ball over and give the Texas Tech offense additional possessions and potentially good field position.

My pick: Oklahoma 45, Texas Tech 28 – The Sooners seem to be in a better rhythm offensively, and they played exceptionally strong defense last weekend at Kansas State. Texas Tech poses a stiff challenge to the OU defense, but I believe the Sooners will put up enough points and Mike Stoops’ defense will make enough stops to swing the scoreboard in Oklahoma’s favor.