Here is everything you need to know about the Big 12 showdown between the Iowa State Cyclones and the Texas Tech Red Raiders in our ISU vs. TTU preview.
Date: 11 a.m. Central Time, Saturday, Oct. 21, 2017, Jones AT&T Stadium, Lubbock, Texas
Record: Iowa State 4-2 (2-1 in Big 12); Texas Tech 4-2 (1-2 in Big 12)
TV: FS1 (Aaron Goldsmith, A.J. Hawk and Danny Kanell)
Radio: Sirius/XM 112/200 (check local listings for Iowa State and Texas Tech affiliates)
Fun facts: Three interesting notes this week. This will be the first of two straight homecoming games for the Cyclones. Next week they’ll host TCU for homecoming. Second, the Red Raiders have won eight of their last 10 homecoming games and are 4-0 against Iowa State on homecoming since 2003. Third, Iowa State is on a three-game road winning streak for the first time since 2004-05.
Iowa State Cyclones
QB Kyle Kempt
Whatever’s wrong with Jacob Park health-wise isn’t bothering the Cyclones or Kempt, who is 2-0 as a starter. To tell you how poor the Cyclones have been the past few years — and to underscore the job second-year head coach Matt Campbell has done — Kempt is second in Big 12 wins for ISU quarterbacks since 2011 (Jared Barnett had three over two seasons). It’s unclear if ISU knew what it had in Kempt before he took over as starter, but it’s a shame he’s out of eligibility after this season.
LB/QB Joel Lanning
Forget the whole “two-way player” storyline (which is great, by the way) and concentrate on what he’s doing at linebacker. With 10.7 tackles per game he’s second in the Big 12 and seventh nationally. The transition he has made from quarterback to middle linebacker in less than a year is nothing less than amazing. It guarantees that Lanning will be in the NFL next year, something that wasn’t going to happen if he remained at quarterback. His support for Kempt in special packages on offense is a bonus.
RB David Montgomery
He’s a quietly consistent producer, even if he doesn’t rack up the statistics. The Cyclones aren’t asking the sophomore to tote the whole load, but he’s a player that can do it at some point either this year or down the line. With two 100-yard rushing games, he has the speed and strength to test Texas Tech’s resurgent defense. Plus, he’s averaging more than a touchdown a game. He’s hard to keep out of the end zone.
Texas Tech Red Raiders
LB Dakota Allen
To underscore Allen’s value to this Tech defense you have to look beyond the fact that he’s third on the team in tackles with 44. He also leads the Red Raiders in interceptions (2) and is tied for third in pass-breakups with three. He’s part of the reason the Red Raiders are already two better than last year’s total turnovers forced (15 in 2017; 13 in 2016). That total is also Top 15 nationally. The Red Raiders are more successful this year, in part, because Allen and his teammates are changing the field.
WR Keke Coutee
The Red Raiders have several good receivers, but Coutee stirs the drink. If you recall, he was injured for part of the game against Oklahoma State and the Red Raiders ended up losing that one. That was his worst statistical game of the year. Otherwise Coutee can hit double-digit receptions in a game, find the end zone and gives QB Nic Shimonek a great target. With 11 more receptions and 2 more touchdowns Coutee will exceed his career output in a season. You can bet he’ll be a potential All-Big 12 First Team selection this season, and Coutee has another year of eligibility.
RB Desmond Nisby
I’m not sure why the Red Raiders aren’t using the 6-foot-1, 235-pound battering ram more often, but his 11-carry, 94-yard, 4-touchdown game against Kansas shows he can make an impact. He gives the Red Raiders a completely different look and based on Iowa State’s game against Texas, the Cyclones could be vulnerable to bigger backs (the Cyclones had some trouble with Chris Warren III). The Red Raiders would be wise to give Nisby a little more to do than last week, when he received two carries against West Virginia.
Iowa State Cyclones
The Cyclones have momentum as a program for the first time in a long time and they don’t want to waste it. Kempt seems to have solidified ISU’s offense, and that has made Montgomery, WR Allen Lazard and the other ISU weapons better. But can Kempt — who had barely played at ISU before taking over as the starter — sustain this? Tech’s aggressive defense will provide a nice test. See if ISU relies more on Montgomery in the running game to try and neutralize Tech’s offense (i.e., keep the Red Raiders off the field). Lanning has emerged as a great defensive weapon, but expect DB Kamari Cotton-Moya to be all over the field and draw some work on both Coutee and WR Dylan Cantrell, Tech’s No. 2 receiver. He’s one of the best overall defensive backs in the Big 12 and he will be a big part of the game if ISU wins.
Texas Tech Red Raiders
How will Texas Tech react to that stunning loss to West Virginia? The Red Raiders were up by 18 points in the third quarter and then just squandered what should have been their fifth win of the season. Will the Red Raiders bounce back? That’s perhaps the biggest storyline for Texas Tech, who will host a sold-out homecoming crowd. As well as Tech’s defense has played over last year’s unit, the Red Raiders have given up points in the fourth quarter in four of their last five games against Arizona State, Houston, Oklahoma State and West Virginia. Those were all close games. That’s a trend defensive coordinator David Gibbs has to reverse if the Red Raiders are going to hold onto late leads more consistently.
Texas Tech 34, Iowa State 27
This should be a close game throughout. But the Red Raiders are home for the first time in three games, continue to produce turnovers and have the firepower to keep piling on points. As long as they don’t let the fourth quarter of this game get away from them, they should notch Win No. 5 for 2017. I also think the early am start time bodes well for the home team.