For reasons unknown, Fox Sports 1 decided to put Kansas and Texas Tech on national television on a Thursday night this week. It’s a matchup between a young, struggling team, and an offense capable of putting up big numbers even against good defenses.
Texas Tech on offense
It’s no surprise that the over/under on this game currently sits at 80. The Red Raiders alone are capable of scoring that much. They’ve put up 183 points in three games so far (61 ppg) and over 1600 yards (more than 8 per play!), and junior QB Pat Mahomes looks like a potential Heisman candidate, completing 94 of 132 passes for 1493 yards and 14 TDs with just two picks. He’s also run for 138 yards and 4 more TDs, so Kansas will have to dedicate a spy to him on virtually every play. You know, because they can afford to do that. Tech’s offense currently sits at 2nd nationally in the S&P+ ratings.
Now, you might point out that those stats were amassed against Stephen F. Austin (FCS team), Arizona State (112th ranked defense per S&P+) and Louisiana Tech (124th). You would be right to point that out, but then you’d have to point out that Kansas’ defense is only ranked 87th, and then you’d be forced to admit that 87th actually seems like remarkable improvement, and then you’d cry. Don’t do that to yourself.
Texas Tech on defense
Could Texas Tech actually be worse than Kansas at something on the football field? S&P+ says YES! Tech’s defense is ranked an abysmal 125th, after surrendering 6.5 yards per play and 43.3 points per game so far. I would like to diverge from Bill Connelly’s ratings on this point, though, because Arizona State and Louisiana Tech both have legitimately good offenses, and Stephen F. Austin is undefeated in their other three games. So I don’t think Tech’s defense is quite as bad as 125th, but it certainly isn’t a strength, either.
Unfortunately, the Jayhawks’ ability to capitalize on that is highly suspect. Since the Rhode Island game, which I think we can all pretty much agree meant absolutely nothing in terms of evaluating the team, the Jayhawks have put up a total of 546 yards (4.7 yards/play) and 28 points. These numbers, and bear in mind it’s two games’ worth of production, would make for far and away Texas Tech’s worst performance of the season. Oh, and one of those games was against Ohio (105th ranked defense). Ok, I guess we were going to end up crying today one way or another.
For this game to stay even remotely competitive, Kansas would have to take a huge step forward offensively. So far the line play has been bad and the running game largely non-existent. Meanwhile, we have no idea who the quarterback is, and it’s entirely possible that we’ll see three different signal callers in this game.
Tech is favored at the time of writing by 28.5 points, which seems low to me. Then again, you could actually make a case that Texas Tech is coming up against the best defense they’ve seen all year, and that Kansas is facing the worst they’ve seen outside of the Rhode Island game. Still, this is a mismatch.
S&P+ gives Kansas an 11% chance of winning this game, with a projected score of 45-24. Frankly, I’ll be thrilled if that comes to pass. I think we’re a lot more likely to see Mahomes with 400 yards of offense by the time Kansas finds the endzone. Remember, those 21 points we saw against Ohio were a bit flukey, as 14 of them came on a kick return and a circus catch in the endzone, and the Jayhawks only put up 232 yards in that game. If I were putting money on this game I’d put it on the Red Raiders.
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