October 22, 2011

The Nickel: Oklahoma

Texas Tech takes on Oklahoma tonight at 7 p.m. tonight in Norman, Okla.

Here are five storylines to keep in mind when watching the game from the unfriendly confines of Oklahoma's Memorial Stadium or on ABC:

Does Seth Doege respond?

Tech quarterback Seth Doege threw three interceptions last week against Kansas State and they were all costly in their own way.

Still, the junior has thrown just four interceptions in 290 attempts and is probably the most valuable player on offense. Don't expect Doege to have as tough a game against Oklahoma even though the Sooner defense is more athletically talented.

Oklahoma averages about 200 yards against the pass, but Doege and crew have a great opportunity to do some serious damage to that average.

Can Crawford carry the 100-yard streak?

In lieu of Eric Stephens season-ending injury, running back Aaron Crawford got his first start this season and rushed for exactly 100 yards. It was the fifth time in six games that a Red Raider running back broke the 100-yard barrier, almost unthinkable during the late Mike Leach era.

But aside from a 51-yard touchdown run Crawford was held pretty well in check.

Getting yards on the ground is important to set up the pass but if the Red Raiders have a chance in this game they're going to have to rely on big plays, and based on the Tech offense, those big plays will mostly come through the air.

Crawford definitely could break a big play, but the Red Raiders are best served going through the air against a tough Oklahoma defensive front.

A real test for the Tech secondary

If we're still learning about the Red Raiders' secondary, a lot of answers will be revealed tonight.

Oklahoma's quarterback and Heisman hopeful Landry Jones throws for about 373 yards per game. Texas A&M was pretty good through the air, but didn't have the athletes Oklahoma has at receivers in Ryan Broyles and Kenny Stills. Jeff Fuller left the Tech game with a concussion and Ryan Swope is more of a possession receiver than an athletic one.

Tech's secondary won't go up against a more complete passing game than Oklahoma's. That includes Oklahoma State.

Tonight's game should be a great learning experience for a Tech secondary that shouldn't lose anyone at the end of the season.

Does Oklahoma exploit Tech's run defense?

Oklahoma has a good running back in Dominique Whaley. He's also averaging more than 100 yards per game.

Roy Finch isn't a slouch either although he has lower numbers than most people would have expected entering this season.

The Red Raiders' run defense is improving, but it's still not there yet and it's probably a weakness the Sooners are looking forward to testing.

The Red Raiders might fare better this week though by sitting down an injured Blake Dees and starting Daniel Cobb in his place.

Can Tech do the unthinkable

When matching up Tech and Oklahoma, Oklahoma seems to have an advantage everywhere but not by much. It's not out of the realm of possibilities for the Red Raiders to give the Sooners a tough game.

Oklahoma hasn't been defeated at home since 2005. A Red Raider victory could be huge in many, many ways and could erase sentiments from Tech's two tough losses.

It really could be the difference between a six-win and an eight-win season.

Can the Red Raiders pull off the upset? We'll learn the answers to these questions by bedtime tonight.

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