The West Virginia University Mountaineers take on the visiting Texas Tech Red Raiders at noon Saturday at Milan Puskar Stadium. WVU faces another unbeaten team from the Big 12 Conference in the 6-0 Red Raiders. The Mountaineers hope to improve to 4-3 overall and even their conference record to 2-2.
Texas Tech is ranked 16th in the AP poll with conference wins over TCU, Kansas and Iowa State. Despite playing two freshman quarterbacks, Texas Tech has established a high powered passing game, averaging 408 yds. and 42 points per game. They haven't been nearly as successful running the ball, averaging 135 yds. rushing.
The Red Raiders defense has allowed only 17 points per game, though Iowa State managed to score 35 last week. The Texas Tech special teams gave up a couple of scores, playing with several freshmen.
Iowa State scored on a 95 yard kickoff return and recovered a punt that hit a Tech blocker. The Cyclones recovered the ball on the Tech 33 yard line and scored on a 4 yd. option play.
The Red Raiders starting quarterback is walk on freshman Baker Mayfield, at 6’2"-220 lbs. Mayfield injured his knee late in the game against Kansas on October 5th and did not play last week.
Mayfield has completed 132 of 201 passes for 1488 yds. with eight touchdowns and five interceptions. Mayfield is a dual threat quarterback but is doubtful for the game against WVU.
Starting in Mayfield's place against Iowa State was another true freshman, Davis Webb. Webb is 6'4"- 195 lbs. and is more of a pocket passer. Webb has completed 71 of 126 passes for 965 yds. with nine touchdowns and five interceptions.
In last week's game against Iowa State, Webb was an impressive 35 of 56 passing for 415 yds, with three touchdowns and one interception. As a result of so many passes and completions, Tech has had at least 100 offensive plays the last two games. The Red Raiders are not going to beat WVU with the run.
Their leading rusher is DeAndre Washington, 5'8"- 190 lbs. with 207 yds. on 53 carries and four touchdowns. His longest run is 19 yds. The Red Raiders' power back is Kenny Williams, 5'9"-225 lbs. with 198 yds. on 58 carries. He has scored 4 touchdowns and his longest run is 18 yards. Washington is also a receiving threat out of the backfield.
Texas Tech does its damage on offense with quick, short passes. And they have four talented receivers, led by 6'5"-260 lb tight end Jace Amaro with 606 yds. and one touchdown on 47 receptions.
Eric Ward, Jakeem Grant and Bradley Marquez are the primary wide receivers with 89 catches and 11 touchdowns between them. A total of 13 players have had pass receptions including the running backs.
Texas Tech's offensive line is a mix of youth and experience. The left tackle and guard each weigh around 330lbs, but the other three are around 285lbs. each. WVU should be able to hold the run in check.
On defense, Texas Tech has been very effective so far against the run, giving up an average of 113 yds. per game. Texas Tech's defense leads the Big 12 against third down conversions and is second in sacks and red zone defense.
The defense is mostly undersized, but talented. Their starting corners are only 5'10" and 5'8" tall, a matchup advantage for the Mountaineer wide receivers. The key to this game for WVU is running the ball and defending against the tight end.
If Pat Eger can have some consistency in his snaps and the WVU receivers make some key catches they can win this game. It really doesn't matter if Clint Trickett or Paul Millard starts as long as they execute the offense.
If it's Trickett, his shoulder must be totally healed and he has to know the play signals. If Millard is the starter, he has to plant his feet before throwing and not try to win the game by himself.
I like the Mountaineers chances in this one, playing at home. This is Texas Tech's first trip to West Virginia.