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West Virginia vs. Texas Tech Preview and Prediction

NCAA Football: Texas Tech at West Virginia

Here is everything you need to know about the upcoming Big 12 game in Morgantown in our West Virginia vs. Texas Tech preview and prediction.

 

Broadcast info

Date: October 14th, 2017 | 11:00 a.m. CT | Milan Puskar Stadium

TV: ESPNU | Mike Couzens (Play-by-Play), John Congemi (Analyst)

Radio: Texas Tech Sports Network | Brian Jensen (Play-by-Play), John Harris (Analyst), Chris Level (Sideline)

Radio: IMG Mountaineers Sports Network | Tony Caridi (Play-by-Play), Dwight Wallace (Analyst), Jed Drenning (Sideline)

Satellite Radio: Sirius 83 XM 83

Fun fact: Dana Holgorsen helped hire Kingsbury for his first coaching position in 2008 after Holgorsen left Texas Tech to take the offensive coordinator position at Houston. Kingsbury joined Holgorsen in Houston as an offensive quality control assistant in 2008 and then was promoted to quarterbacks coach two years later when Holgorsen left for the same position at Oklahoma State.

 

Key Players

Texas Tech Red Raiders

Justin Stockton, running back

Stockton is coming off his best game of the season with 15 carries for 161 yards and a touchdown against Kansas and will look to keep that momentum going against the Mountaineers. West Virginia is giving up over 200 rushing yards per game, which is the second worst mark in the Big 12 conference. But in this game last year, Stockton had just two carries for five yards.

Desmon Smith, cornerback 

The cornerback is one of the few regulars in the back seven without an interception for the Red Raiders. He had six tackles against Kansas last week, but the Odessa, Texas native will look to grab the first interception of his career this week. He’s likely to get a lot of targets and he will possibly be lined up against either David Sills or Ka’Raun White, Will Grier’s two favorite targets.

West Virginia Mountaineers

Will Grier, quarterback

The Red Raiders have already notched seven interceptions this season. Grier has been great this season, but he does have one interception in four of five games. Tech has still allowed teams to throw for yards in bunches, giving up 299 passing yards per game, second worst in the Big 12. Grier just has to avoid the big mistake against an opportunistic defense.

David Long, linebacker

Long missed the first month of the season due to injury and was back in action last weekend against TCU. Long was projected to be the team’s top defensive player before the season began after racking up 65 tackles and 4.5 TFLs as he emerged late in the 2016 season.

 

Key Storylines

Texas Tech’s turnover success

Texas Tech leads the Big 12 and is top 5 in the nation in turnover margin (+9). Also, Tech has seven interceptions already this year, two more than its total from all of last season. Plus it’s been a team effort with six different Red Raiders – Dakota Allen, Jordyn Brooks, DaMarcus Fields, Tony Jones, Justus Parker and Willie Sykes – have picked off a pass so far this season with Fields and Sykes both returning theirs for touchdowns. Will Grier and the West Virginia wide receivers and running backs need to keep their mistakes to a minimum because this Texas Tech team has proven to take advantage of their opponents’ mistakes.

Texas Tech in the red zone

While Texas Tech’s offense is humming along as usual, it has not been efficient in its opportunities in the red zone. Tech is scoring on 76% of their drives in the red zone, which is second worst in the Big 12. They also have three turnovers inside their opponents 20 yard line, which is the most in the conference. However, West Virginia’s defense has yet to capitalize, with no forced turnovers in the red zone, while ranking in the middle of the pack (83% red zone defense, 6th in the Big 12).

West Virginia pass defense

The Mountaineers are ranked second in the Big 12 in pass defense (227 yards allowed per game), while the Red Raiders rank second in pass offense (386 yards per game). But this is the best passing game the Mountaineers have seen this season. Thankfully its secondary is getting healthy at the right time with the return of Toyous Avery and Kyzir White last week against TCU.

Prediction

West Virginia 42, Texas Tech 38

The Red Raiders are much improved, but playing in Morgantown is difficult for any team. Also note, the Red Raiders are the most penalized team in the Big 12 (77.6 yards per game), which is never a good sign going into a tough road game. Grier, along with David Sills, Ka’Raun White and Justin Crawford had outgained TCU’s offense through the first half last week, despite trailing 7-3. This week those yards will turn into points as the Mountaineers will hold off Texas Tech at home.

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