By Wendell Barnhouse | firstname.lastname@example.org
Each season, as the schedule plays out over the final month, there are teams that are hitting their stride and others that are slumping. Two teams matching that scenario meet in Lubbock Saturday.
Kansas State has won two consecutive games while playing outstanding on both sides of the ball. After rising to No. 10 in the rankings after a 7-0 start, Texas Tech has lost its last two games.
“We were so close at the beginning of the year and we are finally starting to put the pieces together a little bit,” quarterback Jake Waters said. “That is giving us confidence. When you have that confidence, it makes you better as a whole.”
The Wildcats fell to 2-4 overall after a 35-25 loss to Baylor. Of the fifth-ranked Bears’ eight victories, that remains the closest margin.
“We don’t have anything to lose anymore,” K-State receiver Tramaine Thompson said. “Everybody kind of counted us out after some tough losses. Everybody already, before the season started, counted us out since I’ve been here. When we lose, everybody turns their back on us.
“We go out there and have fun. You see us jumping around, pushing each other, getting each other into it. The coaches are into it. I think it just helps us by creating a spark.”
Texas Tech’s defense, which was outstanding during the seven victories, has given up over 1,000 yards in total offense in the two losses. The unit is missing four seniors who are sidelined with injuries.
“That’s tough when you lose seniors that have played a bunch, but our young guys have to step up,” Kingsbury said. “When they’re put in position to make plays, they have to make plays. So there are no excuses. It’s just, next guy up.
“In November in college football, that’s part of the game. You’re going to have attrition. You just have to find ways to deal with it.”
The Wildcats’ defense, which has allowed just 19 points total in the last two games, will try to slow one of the nation’s best passing attacks. The focal point for Texas Tech is tight end Jace Amaro, the Big 12’s leading receiver.
“I think he is pretty unique,” K-State coach Bill Sndyer said of Amaro. “He is an outstanding player. Everyone knows he is going to get the ball, but he still gets 15 catches. He is a tremendous competitor.”
All times Central
Kansas State at Texas Tech
Need to know: 11 a.m., Jones AT&T Stadium, ABC.
Records: Kansas State 4-4, 2-3; Texas Tech 7-2, 4-2.
Scouting Kansas State: The Wildcats are playing well. After losing four of the first six, Kansas State has turned things around, particularly on defense. The two quarterback system of Jake Waters and Daniel Sams continues to be effective and running back John Hubert is combining with Sams to give K-State a potent one-two rushing punch.
Scouting Texas Tech: The Red Raiders’ passing attack ranks second in the FBS with 414.2 yards per game but freshman quarterback Davis Webb has thrown more interceptions than any other Big 12 quarterback. Texas Tech also continues to have problems covering punts and kickoffs and in the last two games their run defense has been gashed by Oklahoma and Oklahoma State.
This and that: Texas Tech allowed 123 yards rushing per game but has given up 279 yards per game on the ground in its two losses. … Kansas State had allowed 30 or more points in three consecutive games before giving up a total of 19 points in its last two victories.
TCU at Iowa State
Need to know: 11 a.m., Jack Trice Stadium, FSN.
Records: TCU 3-6, 1-5; Iowa State 1-7, 0-5.
Scouting TCU: The Horned Frogs’ depth chart continues to be decimated by injuries and suspensions. TCU will be without its top two running backs and All-American cornerback Jason Verrett is questionable with a shoulder injury. The Frogs need to win their last three games to become bowl eligible.
Scouting Iowa State: Redshirt freshman Grant Rohach might get the start at quarterback in place of Sam B. Richardson. The Cyclones’ offense has struggled all season and has put too much pressure on a defense that is trying to gain experience. Accuracy has been an issue; Iowa State is completing 53.9 percent of its pass attempts.
This and that: TCU's last 3 opponents (Oklahoma State, Texas and West Virginia) all finished with exactly 415 yards in total offense. Iowa State is averaging 338 yards per game in total offense. … Iowa State is 3-28 when trailing at halftime in the Paul Rhoads era. … The five teams that have defeated the Cyclones in the Big 12 are a combined 19-6 in Conference play and a combined 31-7 overall.
Kansas at Oklahoma State
Need to know: 3 p.m., Boone Pickens Stadium, FS1.
Records: Kansas 2-6, 0-5; Oklahoma State 7-1, 4-1.
Scouting Kansas: The Jayhawks continue to struggle to score in a conference where offensive football tends to win. During KU’s 26-game Big 12 losing streak, it has managed to score just over two touchdowns per game (15.4 point average). During the Jayhawks’ 0-5 start this season, they’ve been outscored 209-79.
Scouting Oklahoma State: The Cowboys are coming off two impressive road victories and their running game is showing signs of dominance. Running back Desmond Roland has 315 yards rushing and seven touchdowns in the last seven games. Oklahoma State leads the Big 12 with 22 takeaways making the Cowboys tops in turnover margin.
This and that: Oklahoma State senior quarterback Clint Chelf threw for a season-high 211 yards and two touchdowns against Texas Tech. He also had 88 yards rushing and two TDs on the ground. … The Cowboys have scored at least 20 points in 47 consecutive games since the start of 2010, the longest active streak in the country.
Texas at West Virginia
Need to know: 6 p.m., Milan Puskar Stadium, FOX.
Records: Texas 6-2, 5-0; West Virginia 4-5, 2-4.
Scouting Texas: Since changing defensive coordinators, the Texas defense has gone from allowing 300 yards per game on the ground in the first three games to allowing 126 yards per game on the ground over the last five. The Longhorns have scored 30 or more points during their five-game winning streak; the last time UT had a streak like that was during the 2009 season.
Scouting West Virginia: In their two Big 12 victories, the Mountaineers have limited the opposition to under three yards per rush. Job One for the West Virginia defense will be slowing the Texas run game. Running back Charles Sims sparked the Mountaineers’ comeback victory at TCU and is one of the most versatile backs in the Big 12.
This and that: Over his last two games, Texas quarterback Case McCoy has thrown for just one touchdown while being intercepted four times. … West Virginia is on pace to force 30 turnovers, something that hasn’t happened since 2007.