Nearly every time the West Virginia Mountaineers and Texas Tech Red Raiders get together, a close, but high-scoring affair typically breaks out. Aside from a 49-14 victory by the Red Raiders in 2012, the margin of victory has been 10 points or less each time these two teams have played. The Mountaineers lead the all-time series 3-2 including wins in each of the last two seasons.
In 2015, the Mountaineers defeated the Red Raiders at Milan Puskar Stadium, 31-26. Wendell Smallwood rushed for 163 yards on 22 carries and Rushel Shell added 111 yards on 14 carries as the West Virginia offense amassed a whopping 300 yards on the ground. In addition, the Mountaineers’ defense held the explosive Texas Tech passing offense to only 199 yards in one of the unit’s most impressive performances of the season.
Game #5: Texas Tech Red Raiders
Texas Tech is coming off of a 7-6 season that ended with a 56-27 thrashing at the hands of the LSU Tigers in the AdvoCare 100 Texas Bowl. Quarterback Patrick Mahomes returns to lead the high-flying Red Raiders offense, but head coach Kliff Kingsbury will need a significant improvement from his defense if the team is going to have any success at all in 2016.
Red Raiders’ Offense Is Mighty Explosive
As mentioned above, Mahomes will return to lead the Red Raiders’ offense after throwing for 4,653 yards and 36 touchdowns in 2015. The dual-threat quarterback also added 456 yards and 10 touchdowns on the ground.
While Mahomes will be returning under center, he will be without his top wide receiver, Jakeem Grant, and running back, DeAndre Washington, both of whom moved on to the NFL. As always the Red Raiders have a number of skill position players ready to replace those two guys as Justin Stockton will take over the lead in the backfield and guys like Devin Lauderdale, Ian Sadler and Cameron Batson will provide experience at wide receiver.
Defense Continues To Be An Issue For Texas Tech
The Red Raiders will never be known for their defense, but last season there was literally no defense to speak of. The unit finished second-to-last in the FBS by giving up 547.7 yards per game. And while the offense was able to average an impressive 45 points per contest, the defense was busy giving up 43.6.
Texas Tech will return a number of starters in the defensive secondary, but leading tackler Dakota Allen won’t be back after getting kicked off the team. The Red Raiders’ biggest weakness in 2015 was stopping the run and losing Allen certainly won’t help.
Prediction: Points, Lots Of Points
This will be the Mountaineers’ first true road game of the 2016 season and it’ll be interesting to see how the team responds. Skyler Howard and the offense shouldn’t have any problems moving the ball on the terrible Texas Tech defense, but drives must end in touchdowns and not field goals. Mahomes is going to move the ball against the inexperienced West Virginia defense, but the key for Tony Gibson’s unit will be to bear down inside the red-zone.
I’ll be honest, this game worries me a bit being in Lubbock. That being said, I just don’t see any way that Texas Tech makes enough stops against Howard, Shell and the Mountaineers’ offense. I’ll take West Virginia, 45-37.