A Painful Prediction for the Last Big 12 game for Texas Tech in Austin
The Texas Tech Red Raiders are 3-0 heading into Austin, Texas to face the Longhorns in what might be the two teams' last meeting in Austin as Big 12 foes. To make it sound like a competitive rivalry, Texas Tech has won two of the last three matchups in Austin.
In reality, the 53-17 all-time record that Texas Tech holds against the Longhorns is pretty pathetic. The Red Raiders are 6-19 against the Longhorns in Big 12 play. I keep trying to find stats to make me feel better here, but I'm having a hard time.
The last two times Texas Tech went to Austin they were in a similar position to the 2021 team according to Vegas. At the time of publishing the Red Raiders are 8.5 point underdogs to the Longhorns. In 2019, the Longhorns were 8 point favorites and in 2017 they were favored by 7.5.
That 2019 game was a late-season game in Matt Wells' first season that saw an unmotivated Red Raider group get shellacked 49-24. Texas Tech's best player that day was punter Austin McNamara. That was also an eyebrow-raiser for Erik Ezukanma who had seven catches for 135 yards in the loss.
The trip before that was in 2017. Kliff Kingsbury already had his bags packed to be fired and started McLane Carter in a last-ditch effort to get bowl eligible after a struggling Nic Shimonek lost his juice. In an urban legend moment, Shimonek went to his coach late in the game and told him he was running out of time and that he should put him in. Kingsbury pulled the trigger. Shimonek tossed the game-winner and Justus Parker clinched the game with an interception. The cover cashes with an outright win.
Even with the lopsided win totals, the Red Raiders and Longhorns are still competitive. Five of the last six games have been played within a single possession. I think that will happen again when Texas Tech and Texas play this weekend.
Both teams average 40 points per game and are giving up about 20 points per game. The Red Raiders have been incredible against the run this season yielding just 1.7 yards per attempt. Bijan Robinson and the Longhorns are averaging nearly six yards per attempt as a team. The Texas Tech front 7 vs the Texas ground game will be key on Saturday and will be the Red Raiders' toughest test of the season and an opportunity to prove they are legit against one of the best running backs in the conference.
Through the air, Texas Tech's Tyler Shough has looked really good when given time to operate. That time hasn't come consistently, but the Texas Tech running game has alleviated the pressure by allowing Shough to shine in the RPO and play-action attacks. The Longhorns have already made a switch at QB, but have scored on 16 of 18 drives since Casey Thompson took over. Most of those drives came against Rice.
Both of these teams have excelled in the Red Zone as well, with the Longhorns and Red Raiders both only failing once to come away with a touchdown once entering the RZ. Texas has missed two of their three field-goal attempts as opposed to Texas Tech who is three of three.
Every brain cell I have is telling me that Texas Tech can win this game. The metrics prove it. Arkansas isn't very good and they hammered Texas. ULL isn't nearly as good as they were last season and Rice is Rice, so I don't think you can hold Texas Tech's schedule against them when comparing the two teams.
I think SaRodorick Thompson and Tahj Brooks can have a great day against this Texas defense. The Red Raider tight ends could continue their breakout because of the rushing attack and that only opens up Kaylon Geiger and Erik Ezukanma who loves to play against the Longhorns.
On the other sideline, the brand new coaching staff and inexperienced QB don't seem to match up well against the Texas Tech defense, though I do think Bijan will get Bijan's. All that being said I'm trying to talk myself out of picking Texas Tech because I feel like my homerism is clouding my judgment.
That being said, I think Texas Tech looks like a competitive Big 12 team this weekend in Austin and covers the +8.5 easily but the home-field advantage in Austin carries the day with a 31-28 victory for the Longhorns.
My gut says that Texas Tech will win though, so I'm conflicted. Don't be surprised if I take the Red Raiders ML on this week's episode of the Gamblin' Gauchos.