Opponent: Texas Tech
Nickname: Red Raiders
Kickoff: October 29th
Location: Jones AT&T Stadium (Lubbock, TX)
Conference: Big 12
Head Coach: Joey McGuire (1st season)
Last Year’s Record: 7-6
Notable Outcomes: Lost to Texas 70-35; lost to Baylor 27-24; beat Mississippi State 34-7
Key Losses: Jonathan Garibay, K; Erik Ezukanma, WR; Dawson Deaton, C
Key Returners: Sarodorick Thompson, RB; Dadrion Taylor-Demerson, S; Tyree Wilson, DE
Strength: Defensive line. The Red Raiders return starters Tyree Wilson and Jaylon Hutchings, along with senior Tony Bradford Jr. That experience and depth will be helpful for Joey McGuire as he tries to establish a defensive identity, especially given some question marks at linebacker. Wilson is a particularly interesting player, as he plays a bit of a defensive end/outside linebacker hybrid given his athleticism.
Weakness: Linebacker. The Red Raiders lost two key linebackers in Riko Jeffers and Colin Schooler. Given that defense has never really been the Red Raiders’ calling card and that Schooler was leading all of FBS in career tackles, those are some big holes to fill. Returning linebackers Krishon Merriweather and Reggie Pearson Jr. will need to fill in, although I do think their roles will be made a bit easier given the strength of Tech’s defensive front.
Way Too Early Prediction: This game worries me. For one, it’s on the road in a tough, sort of rival environment. That’s never easy, but add on top of that the fact that former Baylor assistant coach Joey McGuire is now Tech’s head coach. He’ll have a pretty good idea of what to expect from Dave Aranda and company. Further, this is a major look ahead game as the Bears face Oklahoma the next weekend. I have yet to predict a Baylor loss—and for good reason, because I think Baylor is well positioned to win another Big 12 title and have a 10+ win season. But I don’t expect Baylor to go undefeated in the regular season, and I think the game they lose will be one that Baylor should win on paper but come up short. This might be that game. Hopefully I’m wrong!
35-31 Texas Tech