I'm not including West Virginia in the Key Opponent Update this weekend, despite their recent struggles. By most measures, West Virginia essentially is Baylor. They have a powerful offense with an insane passing attack and multiple deadly receivers, and a terrible defense. With those same attributes, Baylor ripped us apart last weekend. With the WV game on the road, I have no reason to believe that game will turn out differently. Granted, you could say the same for Texas Tech, but they've been on this list all year, so there's no reason to take them off now.
Texas Tech (6-3) - November 10
Last Week: Tech lost their second straight, failing to wrest control of the state of Texas and falling to the Longhorns 31-22.
Notes: Texas Tech looked a little more like the team people thought they were at the beginning of the year last week, giving up 427 yards to Texas, and allowing David Ash to have a very efficient day, just one week after he fell apart against the Kansas defense. Tech moved the ball, but couldn't come up with the plays when it mattered and were never really much of a threat to the Longhorns in this game.
What I'm Watching: Offensively, Tech can be considered sort of a "Baylor Light." They like to throw, but can run effectively as well. Every position is just a small step down from the Bears. Doege isn't the dual threat that Florence is, Ward and Moore have good size, but aren't the freaks that Terrence Williams and Tevin Reese are, and the Red Raider running backs are just a step slower than Salubi and Seastrunk. Given this, I think Texas Tech will do something similar to what Baylor did to us, just not quite as bad. Our defense will likely have a rough go of it, but I don't expect 600+ yards.
The big difference between them and Baylor is on defense. Baylor doesn't play it, and Tech does (albeit to different degrees depending on the week). Tech had some great defensive performances early against weaker opponents, and while they've fallen back to earth some, they haven't fallen off the map like they did last year. Since we can't even score points against bad defenses, I don't look for us to light up the scoreboard Saturday. With this in mind, I'll be watching for defensive stops and turnovers, because that's probably the only way this game won't get away from us by the third quarter yet again.
Iowa State (5-4) - November 17
Last Week: ISU lost their third in four tries, falling to OU 35-20.
Notes: I won't try to draw too much from this game alone, given the talent discrepancy between these two teams, but ISU really got shelled. Their defense has been very strong this year, but surrendered just shy of 600 yards to OU Saturday, lost the time of possession battle by 13 minutes, and allowed the Sooners to go 9-14 on third down. Again, probably not a trend, but it does highlight that while this Iowa State defense is pretty solid, they aren't a dominant force by any means.
What I'm Watching: The continued struggles of the Iowa State offense. It's really our only hope of knocking them off in what looks like our only remaining shot at winning a second game. ISU held the ball for only 23 minutes in this one (a disastrous number for this type of offense) and put up a harmless 290 yards. They did only turn the ball over once, but both the passing and running games were rendered ineffective. This is something we will need to seize on when we play them. I'd probably take either of their quarterbacks over ours, but they've both been pretty mediocre this year, completing 58% of their passes, and posting a TD:int ratio of 18:13. The offense lacks explosive position players, and can be shut down, especially when they start coughing up the ball. Since we know we can't beat anyone in a shootout, we'll need to make sure Iowa State looks extra Iowa State-ish on offense a week from Saturday, and try to seize on some mistakes.
This Week: Iowa State risks falling to 5-5 on the year, traveling to Austin to face the mercurial #17 Longhorns.