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RED RAIDERS

Texas Tech football visits Kansas: Scouting report, predictions

Lubbock Avalanche-Journal

The possibilities are endless as the Texas Tech football team enters the home stretch.

This time last year, the Red Raiders were 4-5 and in need of two wins in their final three games to get to a bowl game. They won all three, then won the bowl game, which prompted the preseason hype entering the 2023 season. Tech is in the exact same situation this year.

Could we be in for a rerun?

That depends on what the Red Raiders do from here, starting with Saturday's road trip to take on 19th-ranked Kansas in an 11 a.m. kickoff that will air on FS1. Tech has won each of the last three games and 15 of the last 16 meetings with the Jayhawks dating back to 2004.

Kansas, however, is a very different team than the ones Tech, and the rest of the Big 12, have been beating up on in recent years. Does that change who will come out on top? Let's break it down.

When Texas Tech football runs

Tahj Brooks is one of seven running backs in the nation to eclipse the 1,000-yard threshold at this point of the season. The senior tailback has 1,033 yards and averages 5.3 yards per carry. Outside of Brooks, Tech's rushing ability is somewhat limited, though Brooks rarely comes out of the game anyway. Kansas' rush defense leaves much to be desired. The Jayhawks allow 163.6 yards per game on the ground, which is 10th in the Big 12 and 91st nationally. Four of Kansas's last five opponents ran for more than 200 yards though Iowa State managed 75 on 29 attempts.

Advantage: Texas Tech

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When Kansas football runs

The Jayhawks feature one of the top rushing attacks in the country, ranking 18th overall at 198.1 yards per game on the ground. This includes a whopping 399 yards against UCF. However, KU has failed to generate 100 rushing yards in two of their last three contests (against Oklahoma State and Iowa State). Devin Neal (828 yards, 9 TDs) is the bell cow while Daniel Hishaw (517 yards, 8 TDs) gets plenty of opportunities as well. Texas Tech's rushing defense had its second-best showing of the season in holding TCU to 87 yards on 26 carries, though allowed three scores on the ground.

Advantage: Kansas

When Texas Tech football passes

A healthy Behren Morton changes the complexion of the Texas Tech offense. Not only was the sophomore far more efficient in his return against TCU, he also utilized the middle of the field, trusting his shoulder to make tough throws down the field. He'll be going against a Kansas secondary that has had its highs (holding Oklahoma to 171 yards through the air) and lows (allowing 336 to Oklahoma State) in the last few weeks. The Jayhawks have nine interceptions on the year. Ra'Mello Dotson has three of those.

Advantage: Kansas

Kansas Jayhawks running back Devin Neal (4) runs for a touchdown against Iowa State during the first quarter at Jack Trice Stadium on Saturday, Nov. 4, 2023, in Ames, Iowa.

When Kansas football passes

The Jayhawks don't pass a ton (Morton has five more pass attempts than KU quarterback Jason Bean, who's played three more games) but they're efficient when they do. Kansas averages 14.4 yards per completion 鈥 for comparison, Texas Tech is at 10.8. Bean is completing 60.7% of his passes, has been sacked five times and thrown four interceptions compared to 10 touchdowns. Dadrion Taylor-Demerson, Tech's surest tackler on the field, had two picks against TCU.

Advantage: Kansas

Texas Tech vs. Kansas: The specialists

Much talk around Texas Tech this week has been centered around Kansas' ability in the punt-return game. That's a bit overblown. While Trevor Wilson does have an 82-yard return for a touchdown this season, Kansas has returned four of its 32 received punts. On the flip side, Myles Price has nine punt returns by himself on the 46 punts forced by the Tech defense. Opponents have attempted seven returns on Austin McNamara's 35 punts this season, which have resulted in 5.7 yards per return. Texas Tech is fifth and Kansas 18th nationally in net punting.

Advantage: Texas Tech

Score prediction: Kansas 42, Texas Tech 28