Texas Tech @ Iowa State
- Game Time: 6:00
- TV: FCS
- Sirius Channel: 128
- The Spread: Iowa State +2.5
The Lowdown: Neither Iowa State or Texas Tech may be ranked just yet, but they do both come in sporting perfect 3-0 records. Iowa State has by far played a tougher schedule winning on the road at Iowa, 9-6, and beating a good Tulsa team in the season opener, 38-23.
Texas Tech, meanwhile, has played the weakest nonconference schedule of anyone in the Big 12. Say what you want about it, but they've also dominated every team they've lined up against. No, they haven't been tested yet, but they have certainly taken care of their business. That's not something you could have necessarily said at this point last season even though they had the same 3-0 record.
So who will have the upper hand on Saturday? If you pay any attention to Cyclone fans, they feel like they have Tech's number after beating them each of the past two seasons including last season's 41-7 drubbing in Lubbock.
Note to Cyclones fans: 2012 isn't 2011 nor is it 2010. This is the best Texas Tech team they've fielded under Tuberville. Paul Rhoads would likely laugh at that notion because this is probably his best Iowa State team, as well, making this more than an intriguing matchup under the lights at Jack Trice.
Iowa State's offense is about as balanced as they come. The Cyclones have attempted 127 rushes and put it in the air 116 times through three games.
Quarterback Steele Jantz has also shown steady improvement over last season. The senior is completing 70% of his passes and has thrown four interceptions in 107 pass attempts. A healthy Steele Jantz is a pretty good Steele Jantz.
Iowa State's running game has also been bolstered by the return of running back Shontrelle Johnson from a season ending neck injury in 2011. The junior is tied with James White for the team lead with 176 rushing yards although both have averaged only 10 carries a game.
For the Red Raiders, it's no surprise their offense has gotten off to a hot start given the competition. They are averaging nearly 600 yards per game and have averaged a whopping 7.2 yards per play in 2012.
Running back Eric Stephens is rounding into form coming off last season's gruesome knee injury. The senior is averaging 79.3 yards per game but he's not the only horse Tech has in the stable. Kenny Williams and SaDale Foster will see their fair share of action on Saturday, as well, giving Iowa State defensive coordinator Wally Burnham plenty to think about when it comes to slowing down the Texas Tech offense.
The early season surprise thus far in Lubbock has been the play of their defense. Northwestern State, Texas State, and New Mexico averaged 75 yards rushing and 85 yards passing in their three games. Those are impressive numbers under first year defensive coordinator, Art Kaufman, regardless of the competition.
Iowa State, Keys to the Game: Avoid turnovers. Sounds obvious, right? The Cyclones survived four turnovers against Iowa and three more against overmatched Western Illinois. But if they turn over it over that many times on Saturday night, Tech has the playmakers on offense that will make them pay.
Iowa State has a very good shot to win playing their style of football which means ball control, field position, and avoid gift wrapping any easy scores for Texas Tech. Avoid the latter, and Iowa State will find themselves sitting at 4-0.
Texas Tech, Keys to the Game: Stay balanced and continue to spread the wealth. Tuberville has wanted to run the ball more effectively ever since he arrived in Lubbock and this year Tech's offense is finally obliging. Iowa State is strong up the middle with good interior lineman and even better linebackers, but if Texas Tech stays consistent calling running plays, the sea will open for Doege through the air.
Texas Tech has four receivers with at least 10 catches and four more with at least five. Who's ISU going to focus on in coverage, everybody? Fat chance. If Tech doesn't become one dimensional and sticks with what has worked thus far, they'll put points on the board.
The Prediction: Both teams come in with plenty to prove; Iowa State that their strong start is no fluke and Texas Tech that they can beat someone with a pulse.
So what's going to happen? Iowa State's two year curse over Texas Tech will come to an end is what's going to happen. In a game that will take all four quarters to decide, Tommy Tuberville gets his first win over Paul Rhoads. The Red Raiders simply have to many weapons on offense for the Cyclones keep track of and the Red Raiders defense will indeed prove it is much better than last year's version. It will be a happy flight back to west Texas. Texas Tech 34 Iowa State 24.