Featured Video from Scott Reichel
First-year Texas Tech head coach Matt Wells will go for a marquee win Saturday night when the Red Raiders travel to Tucson to take on the Kevin Sumlin-led Arizona Wildcats. Both of these teams like up to put up lots of points, so the outcome may come down to who can best negate the opponent’s best weapons.
For Texas Tech, the trip to the Sonoran Desert offers a chance to go 3-0 to start the season. With a tough Big 12 schedule looming, the Red Raiders would love to bring a perfect record to the start of conference play. They’ll turn to sophomore quarterback Alan Bowman, the latest in a long string of pocket passers to inherit the Texas Tech offense.
A contrast of styles will be in order as Arizona likes to employ a more balanced pass-rush attack. The Wildcats are led by quarterback Khalil Tate, who is back to prime health after dealing with injuries for much of the 2018 season. The biggest question for the Wildcats comes on defense. Can they slow down Texas Tech’s prolific air raid?
Buckle up because this one is sure to be a barn burner.
Red Raiders look to continue hot start
New head coach, same system. Matt Wells picks up where Kliff Kingsbury left off, which is a program defined by their ability to pass the ball. Alan Bowman appears up to the task to be Texas Tech’s next great slinger. He has already thrown for nearly 700 yards this season, and there’s a good chance he’ll pick up plenty more against an under-performing Arizona defense.
Bowman has plenty of talented skill players around him, led by receiver T.J. Vasher, who already has two touchdown receptions to go with 150 receiving yards. Two other receivers have over 100 yards catching. On the ground, the Red Raiders will hand the ball off to Armand Shyne, who has 170 yards in 19 attempts.
🔴Protect(ed) the Jones⚫️ pic.twitter.com/80r9gHPkk3
— Texas Tech Football (@TexasTechFB) September 9, 2019
Texas Tech’s defense is the biggest question mark in this game. The defensive unit has been efficient — allowing just 6.5 points per game — but has yet to force a turnover. Watch out for senior linebacker Jordyn Brooks. He recorded 80 or more tackles in each of his first three seasons in Lubbock. Wells said earlier this week that he was impressed with his defense’s play on early downs. That’ll be key against a potent Arizona offense.
Wildcats want to defense home turf
Kevin Sumlin’s honeymoon period in Tucson has come to end. After an inconsistent debut season in 2018, Arizona entered this year with more optimism. That came to a crashing halt with a Week 0 loss to Hawai’i. Now Arizona needs to defeat Texas Tech to have a winning non-conference record.
Khalil Tate may not be a Heisman candidate anymore, but he is still one of the most explosive quarterbacks in the country. He was limited for most of the Hawai’i game but showed some promise in a Week 2 65-41 rout over Northern Arizona, where Arizona scored 51 points in the first half alone.
Arizona likes to run the ball. The Wildcats are ninth nationally with 304.5 rushing yards per game. Junior back J.J. Taylor leads the team with 169 yards and two touchdowns.
— Arizona Football (@ArizonaFBall) September 10, 2019
On the defensive side of the ball, Arizona has plenty of room to improve. The Wildcats do a very poor job of putting pressure on the opposing quarterback. Even the blowout win to Northern Arizona was a letdown defensively, as NAU outscored Arizona 28-14 in the second half. One bright spot on defense is cornerback Jace Whittaker, who leads the nation with three interceptions.
- 1-5 ATS in their last 6 non-conference games.
- 2-5 ATS in their last 7 games in September.
- 15-40 ATS in their last 55 games after allowing more than 280 yards passing in their previous game.
- 4-0 ATS in their last 4 non-conference games.
- 5-1 ATS in their last 6 games after allowing less than 275 total yards in their previous game.
- 33-16-2 ATS in their last 51 games in September
The Bottom Line What to bet on this game.
Full-Game Side Bet
Arizona’s defense can’t be trusted enough to give the Wildcats a win against an offense as talented as Texas Tech’s. Simple as that. Arizona will likely keep it close for much of the game, but in crunch time I expect Texas Tech to have too much firepower. Quarterback Alan Bowman is a rising star who should be able to find and exploit the pockets in the Arizona secondary. He’s facing an Arizona defensive line that struggles to put pressure on quarterbacks — the Wildcats accumulated just one sack in their season opening defeat to Hawai’i. Despite this game being in Tucson, I fully expect the Red Raiders to come out as the victors.
Prediction: Texas Tech -2
Full-Game Total Pick
As tempting as it is to take the over in this one, that’s not the smart choice. For one, O/U has gone under in the last four games played by Texas Tech, and under in five of the Wildcats’ last 7 games in September. Arizona and Tech like to score the ball, sure, but to expect both teams to average over five touchdowns is asking too much, especially in what should be a very tight game.
Prediction: Under 76.5