Keys to the Game: Texas Tech at Houston

Texas Tech and Houston meet up Saturday morning in a prime spot for a prime game between two undefeated teams and former Southwest Conference foes. A win for either would be huge, but for Houston victory would solidify their reputation as Power 5 slayers. Keys to the Game:

For Texas Tech

Run defense at an optimum 

The running game was the difference between a 13 win 2015 Houston team and a nine-win 2016 team. Major Applewhite and his OC Brian Johnson made the running game a priority in the offseason, and it has paid off. Dillon Birden and Duke Catalon average 4.2 yards or more a carry. A running game makes Kyle Allen so much more dangerous in the passing game. Tech's defense improved over a yard and half per carry through two games. That'll need to continue for the Red Raiders Saturday night. 

Don't put blood in the water

Rice gifted Houston multiple possession inside their territory through turnovers. Houston's offense didn't break a sweat in running up a thirty point lead in the first half. Houston's defense excels at creating turnovers and giving their offense short fields. They are ball hawks, and Texas Tech can't afford to feed them. 

Make it a track meet. 

Tech can win games 50 to 40. They like a track meet. Houston can't keep up with Tech's pace if the Red Raiders get hot offensively. That's easier said than done, but Nic Shimonek has the look of a classic Tech yardage eater. If Tech can create splash plays and get up and down quickly, they'll put Houston in a bad spot. 

For Houston

Get out early

The TDECU crowd and the Third Ward defense feed off momentum and energy. Big plays beget big plays. The Cougars, especially the defense, need to announce their presence with authority by matching Tech's edge speed and flustering Shimonek. 

Work the Clock

If Tech wants to play pickup football, Houston wants to manage the clock. The best place for Tech's potent offense to be is on the sideline. Even as the Red Raiders struggled the past two seasons, their offense has put up numbers. The Cougars need to grind this game out, challenge Tech's front seven and stay ahead of the chains. 

World, Meet Kyle Allen

You're going to hear about Nic Shimonek; he puts up video game numbers. You're going to hear about Ed Oliver, arguably the best player in college football. Let's introduce Kyle Allen to the world, again. Allen went to A&M with pomp and circumstance and a five-star pedigree; then he disappeared to the Houston scout team. Last week against an overmatched Rice team Allen did his thing. By the end of Saturday get ready for the world to acknowledge how good this kid is. 

Notes and Numbers

  • Saturday will mark the 31st meeting between the Red Raiders and Cougars. Houston holds an 18-11-1 advantage. 
  • Tech won the last meeting in 2010, 35-20, in Lubbock. 
  • The Red Raiders owned the series in the 90's while Houston dominated from the early 70's to the mid 80's.
  • Kliff Kingsbury and Major Applewhite met three times as players. Both played in the 2000 game, a win by Applewhite's Longhorns. 
  • Tech wideout Keke Coutee caught 12 passes last week vs. Arizona State.
  • Through two games Shimonek has completed 78% of his passes. 
  • Houston hold the longest active home winning streak at 16 games.
  • Kyle Allen leads the nation in completion percentage at 86%.
  • Linell Bonner average 9.2 catches per game, good enough for 2nd nationally.

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