Key players: Texas Tech - QB Nic Shimonek, RB Justin Stockton, LB Dakota Allen; West Virginia - QB Will Grier, RB Justin Crawford, WR Ka'Raun White. The Red Raiders have gotten off to a nice start to their season at 4-1 and No. 24 in the latest AP Top 25 poll, but a win over a team that has consistently beaten them would help put the Big 12 on notice. Despite losing Patrick Mahomes to the National Football League, the Red Raiders continue to field one of the best passing offenses in the country behind senior Nic Shimonek. Additionally, three of their five meetings since 2012 have been decided by no more than 10 points. No. 24 Texas Tech plays the Mountaineers on Saturday. Holgorsen was an assistant coach at Texas Tech from 2000-07.
Which side will come out with the big win in this Big 12 bout? The Red Raiders' advantage is slimmer than expected.
Meantime, the Mountaineers have not been as opportunistic, with only eight takeaways on the season, tied for sixth in the Big 12.
Texas Tech's run offense against West Virginia's defense.
He has passed for 1,740 yards and 16 touchdowns with only four interceptions. West Virginia put up 650 total yards while limiting the Red Raiders to 379 total yards, and that was with Patrick Mahomes at quarterback.
A year ago in Lubbock, Texas, West Virginia raced to a 24-7 halftime lead and forced Texas Tech to throw the ball to try to catch up. A difference in this game could be the red zone, where Texas Tech's offense has surprisingly struggled, scoring on only 76 percent of their trips inside the 20, which is second worst in the Big 12 conference.
"The amount of times that they are handing that thing off is more than what they have been doing", said West Virginia coach Dana Holgorsen.
Underwhelming at home against Big 12: West Virginia has the talent to give teams headaches, but they aren't as good as home as one might think. Texas Tech remains one of the nation's best offenses but seems to be getting a bit more credit that it deserves defensively after a small subset of games.
Today we look at the tale of the tape of the positions for both West Virginia and Texas Tech to see which team in our analysis comes out on top pitted against each other. West Virginia is ninth at about 44 points and has surpassed 500 yards of offense in every game.
Lately, Texas Tech has done more than just rely on Shimonek, who is third nationally with 362 passing yards per game.
- Written by Pete Mundo, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network as well as owner and operator of HeartlandCollegeSports.com, a site for Big 12 fans.