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Iowa State Cyclones vs. Taco Tech Red Raiders Preview

The Clones look to make it two in a row, in what should be a game full of touchdowns (and tacos) for everyone!

NCAA Football: Iowa State at Texas Tech
Demond “Tuck Dog” Tucker looks to eat some Tacos and quarterbacks named Patrick Mahomes
Michael C. Johnson-USA TODAY Sports

ISU comes off their first conference win of the season, and looks to make it two in a row against one of the best offensive (and worst defensive) attacks in Texas Tech.

2016 Game XI: Iowa State (2-8, 1-6) vs. Texas Tech University (4-6, 2-5)

Date: Saturday, Nov. 19

Time: 2:30 P.M. CST

Location: Jack Trice Stadium, Ames, IA

Capacity: 61,500

Line: Texas Tech -3

Television: FS1

Radio: Cyclone Radio Network

Game Notes/Release

Texas Tech Game Notes

Texas Tech SB Nation WebsiteViva the Matadors

When We Last Left Off

Iowa State won its first conference game in the Matt Campbell regime!

While the first quarter was less than stellar, the Cyclones fought back from an 11-point deficit to win by a score of 31-24. Leading the way was true freshman running back David Montgomery and his 169 yards rushing, winning the Big 12 Newcomer of the Week award.

Quarterback Jacob Park looked solid, completing 20 of 26 passes, and three of those incompletions were dropped passes from the receivers. Allen Lazard had a career day with 10 receptions, and the defense made stops when they had to.

It was an ugly win, but I’ll take one of those over a pretty loss (or moral victory) any day.

Texas Tech Tidbits

This team is about as lopsided as it gets, as they lead the country in multiple offensive statistics, and are coincidentally last in many defensive categories. The Red Raiders are fighting for bowl eligibility, as they have to win out to get to 6 victories.

Tech has kept most of their losses close, with 4 of 6 by 8 points or less, including a heartbreaking missed PAT attempt that would have tied the game last week versus OSU. They are led by heartthrob and TTU alum Kliff Kingsbury, and he cares about one thing — putting points on the board.

The Red Raiders lead the country in first downs, passing offense, are 2nd in total offense, and 3rd in scoring offense. Their defense is the complete opposite, as they are dead last in the conference in these defensive categories: first downs allowed, rushing, scoring, total yards, and turnovers gained.

In other words, a complete Jekyll and Hyde experiment that obviously isn’t working.

The Series

Texas Tech leads the all-time series 11-3, winning the last four, and historically the games have been close in Ames.

While some of you remember “The Run” against the Kingsbury-led Red Raiders in 2002, here is another one of my favorite plays in Cyclone history below:

ISU Offense

Jacob Park is clearly the man at the helm, and he has improved immensely since the first few weeks of the season. He’s made Allen Lazard his main target and rightly so, as the stud junior has averaged over 7 catches for 90 yards per game and corralled 4 touchdowns in his last five games.

This offense needs to continue to feed the beast, and there will be plenty of opportunities to find #5 open on Saturday. Look for Deshaunte Jones to continue his stellar play, as he’s displayed a knack for the end zone, scoring 6 times already this year.

I could also see a big day out of Dondre Daley, as he is more of a deep threat, and Tech is horrible at containing the long throws. The offensive line shouldn’t see much of a threat from the pass rush, and they will hold their own in the running department.

First Key to Victory – Chew the Clock to Keep Tech’s Offense off the Field

This will most likely come by way of running the ball and the man up for the challenge is David Montgomery. The standout freshman has been great this year at setting up his blockers and finding the second line of defense. His vision is great and his ability to break tackles has been a bright spot for this offense. The Cyclones can’t go score for score against this Air Raid offense, and they’re going to need to sustain drives, gain first downs, and …

Second Key to Victory – Convert in the Red Zone with Touchdowns

We will see Joel Lanning in the red zone and short-yardage situations, and #7 deserves to get his playing time. Look for him to punch it in for at least a couple scores when the team needs him the most.

Field goals are for the birds in this one, and Campbell and his cronies will need to seriously think about going for it on 4th down if they are in Tech territory. It will be imperative when we are in the red zone that we score touchdowns, and with a 91% succession rate so far, that shouldn’t be much of a problem.

NCAA Football: Oklahoma at Iowa State
Park will have a hey-day against this defense
Reese Strickland-USA TODAY Sports

Texas Tech Defense

I feel for defensive coordinator David Gibbs and his terrible, no good, very bad defense. He is the first DC at Texas Tech that came back for a second season in Lubbock in EIGHT YEARS! To go the positive route, they have held their last two opponents to 7 points total in their last two fourth quarters, but other than that they have more holes than a beehive.

It all starts up front with the defensive line, and they are getting gashed for 5.8 yards per carry and 233 yards rushing per game. The Tech defense runs a 4-2-5 defense and their defensive ends average 245 pounds, so look for ISU to have their way with them. Their best pass rusher is Kris Williams, who has 5 sacks on the year, but other than that, Park should have all day to throw.

Leading the team in tackles are linebackers Malik Jenkins and Jordyn Brooks. Brooks is a true freshman as he is one of seven contributors on the defensive side of the ball playing their first year in college.

The secondary is worse than all of these units combined, giving up over 8.2 yards per completion and 308 yards per game. I’m not sure what else to say other than that ISU has an advantage and needs to step on their throats when they get opportunities.

Verdict – Iowa State

This one isn’t really a contest, as ISU should be licking their chops against this porous defense. Again, there will be opportunities and I hope ISU can convert as many as possible, and the three-headed monster of Park/Montgomery/Lazard are going to need to give this defense some breathers.

ISU Defense

The KU game showed some lapses from ISU’s defense, namely up front. This unit’s kryptonite continues to be stopping the run — and luckily for them, Tech doesn’t do much of that. Look for a lot of screen passes, short-outs and quick slants as that will expose our linebackers. I foresee more of a dime package with Evrett Edwards and D’Andre Payne in our second line of defense, as that generates more speed on the field.

ISU should be able to get pressure on Mahomes, as Tech gives up nearly 3 sacks per game, but he is also elusive. I can see DC Jon Heacock keeping his corners back to support the pass, but if he wants to force errant throws he will need to send the speedsters on a blitz to stop Mahomes on third down. It worked against Oklahoma, now let’s see if ISU can do it against the Red Raiders.

I’m not worried about this secondary, as they have been one of the strongest position groups all year, and am confident in all four of our cornerbacks plus Payne/Edwards. They have been great at containing the deep throws, but will have their hands full in the open field — and wrapping up will be the difference between an 8-yard gain and an 80-yard touchdown.

Texas Tech Offense

Patrick Mahomes is putting up video-game numbers this year, and isn’t just a product of a system — this man will be playing on Sundays. A lot has been said about the weather, but it shouldn’t make a bit of difference as Mahomes throws a tight spiral and will have no problems.

He leads the country in total passing yards, passing yards per game, total offense, and is second in points responsible per game. He can not only do it with his arm, but also with his legs, as #5 has crossed the goal line 12 times via the run.

This team is about as one-dimensional as it gets, averaging 89 more passing yards per game than any other school in the country. They are also ultra-efficient — second in the country in third-down-conversion rate at 54%.

Texas Tech only knows three speeds, and they are fast, faster, and fastest. Hold on to your butts!

NCAA Football: West Virginia at Texas Tech
These two are a lethal combo
Michael C. Johnson-USA TODAY Sports

One of their starting lineman just announced this week that he has retired due to injury, and they have already lost two others similarly to the injury bug on the season.

Coach Kingsbury is apparently afraid of running the ball, as they barely get over 100 yards per game. He might need to change his approach against ISU’s front.

Mahomes likes to keep all his receivers happy — finding 10 different receivers for touchdowns this year. Leading the charge is sophomore Jonathan Giles, who averages 16.6 yards per catch and is already over the 1000-yard plateau. Tech will stretch us wide with 4- and 5-WR sets, and names like Dylan Cantrell, Cameron Batson and Keke Coutee will see plenty of throws come their way.

Verdict – Tacos – Lots of Em

I don’t know about you, but I am a big fan of tacos and am quite fond of Fuzzy’s Taco Shop in downtown DSM. Tech wins this battle handily.

Third Key to Victory – Make Stop(s) on Third Down

Texas Tech uses every inch of the field and loves to run up-tempo, so they make third downs easy for Mr. Mahomes. The only way ISU can stick with the Red Raiders is if they are able to stop Tech’s receivers from gaining yards after the catch, and batting the deep ball down.

Easier said than done, but I’m gonna go with my instinct on this one. Saddle up partner, we will be in for a long ride!

Special Teams

Texas Tech has a decent return man in Cameron Batson, averaging 10 yards per punt return, and their field goal kicker, although he missed a PAT last week, is 10 for 11 on field goals on the year.

ISU has one of the better punt defenses and can hold him in check, and I will see your kicker and raise you Cole Netten, who is 11 for 12 this season. Aha!

Tech is horrible in both kickoff and punt return coverage, and ISU has two game breakers in Trever Ryen and Kene Nwangwu who can change the momentum in an instant.

Verdict – ISU

This could pay huge dividends for the Cyclones, as a shorter field for the offense will only make things easier, and I could see ISU taking one back to the house.

Final Analysis

This is a tough one to decide on. Both teams stack up well against each other, with the strength of ISU’s pass defense and Tech’s pass offense. Neither team commits a ton of penalties, nor do they turn the ball over.

It honestly comes down to the efficiency of ISU’s offense and if they can keep up with Mahomes and company. I don’t know if Park has enough experience to take that next step, but I think our running backs can run wild.

ISU has yet to string together a full 60-minute game all year, and if there is a lapse, then the Cyclones could be digging themselves out of a huge hole, as Tech typically scores early and often.

It will be a hard-fought game, and both teams will get theirs, but I see the Red Raiders pulling it off in a high-scoring affair.

Final Score

Texas Tech 45, ISU 38