Week 7: West Virginia at Texas Tech

    West Virginia (3-2) at Texas Tech (2-3) Oct. 11, 12:00, FOX Sports 1 Here’s The Deal: Considering the two programs and offenses are built for high-octane,

    October 8, 2014

    West Virginia (3-2) at Texas Tech (2-3) Oct. 11, 12:00, FOX Sports 1

    Here’s The Deal: Considering the two programs and offenses are built for high-octane, up and down the field shootouts, is it possible to do better than last year’s 37-27 Texas Tech win? This is just the third time the two schools have played, with the first meeting coming in the 1938 Sun Bowl – a West Virginia 7-6 barnburner.

    On a three game losing streak, the Red Raiders quickly found their place in the world after getting rocked by Kansas State and losing at Oklahoma State, but that could turn out to be the tough part of the schedule with four of the next five games at home starting this week. The passing game is fine, but it can’t seem to make up for the problems on a defense that was steamrolled over by Arkansas and run on at will so far. On the plus side, with Kansas up next, a win this week should get the season on track.

    West Virginia took care of its layup against the Jayhawks last week, and weren’t bad against Oklahoma, but with Baylor, Oklahoma State and TCU up next, getting a fourth win and within bowl range would be a big deal. Texas Tech’s passing game has been good, but West Virginia’s has been better, and there’s even a little defense to go along with it. This is a much, much different team than the one that struggled so much last year, and while a Big 12 title is asking way too much, there’s the talent in place to come up with a good run with most of the nasty games at home.

    Why West Virginia Might Win: As always when it comes to playing Texas Tech, how’s the pass defense? The short answer might be that it’s good enough. It doesn’t give up the big plays down the field and only Maryland and Oklahoma have thrown touchdown passes against the WVU secondary so far. It’s not going to shut down the Tech attack cold, but with the safeties coming up with a solid season so far and with good experience and the ability to keep the short-to-midrange plays from turning into anything big, it’s not going to let Tech QB Davis Webb go off.

    Why Texas Tech Might Win: Turnover margin continues to be a major problem for the Mountaineers, even in the decent wins. Oddly enough, the Alabama loss was the only time WVU won the turnover battle, failing to give up a turnover and forcing a pick. Against everyone else, the turnovers have flowed like wine with a -3 margin against both Maryland and Kansas and -2 against Oklahoma. Texas Tech isn’t much better, losing the turnover battle in every game so far. The difference has been that the mistakes have killed Tech, and WVU has been able to get past them. It’ll be a bigger help for the Red Raiders if they can just hold even.

    Who To Watch Out For: Pitt transfer Rushel Shell is starting to grow more and more into a role in the West Virginia offense. He started out slowly against Alabama, but ever since he’s been good for a touchdown a game with 113 yards last week against Kansas and 98 against Maryland. The big concern was his fitness, but he’s been able to carry the workload more and more with 20+ carries in two of his last three games.

    What’s Going To Happen: The Mountaineer running game will balance things out. Webb and the Red Raider passing game will be more than fine keeping up the pace, but the West Virginia defense will come up with the key second half stops the Tech defense won’t.

    Prediction: West Virginia 34 … Texas Tech 27
    Line: West Virginia -6 o/u: 73.5
    Must Watch Factor: 5: Last Week Tonight – 1: Bad Judge … 2.5

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