AUSTIN (KXAN) — Texas Tech (3-0) will head to Austin for the Big 12 opener against Texas Saturday. The Red Raiders went undefeated through non-conference play against a fairly soft schedule with wins over Houston, Stephen F. Austin and Florida International.
Last year, Texas and Texas Tech raced each other to 50, settling the game in overtime with the Longhorns winning 63-56 on a Sam Ehlinger touchdown to Joshua Moore during the first overtime series.
What kind of game will the Longhorns and Red Raiders put on the field in this 71st meeting between the two teams? Texas head coach Steve Sarkisian doesn’t expect the same kind of track meet for the two offenses. According to Bill Connelly’s SP+ ratings, which measures a team’s offensive and defensive efficiency, both defenses are better this season. Texas Tech’s defense appears ready for a significant improvement from 2020 to 2021.
The offensive identity of each team will likely keep the scoreboard lower as well with both teams committed to running the ball with talented running backs.
As we move closer to the 11 a.m. Saturday kickoff at Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium, let’s take a look at what makes Texas Tech tick as a team.
Key players to know for Texas Tech
Oregon transfer Tyler Shough and Manor High School graduate Tahj Brooks lead the Tech offense. Brooks is the clear-cut top running back for the Red Raiders averaging eight yards a carry through the first three games. Brooks has four touchdowns and 284 rushing yards.
Brooks will certainly be motivated to show out in front of the Longhorns, who didn’t recruit him in the 2020 class.
Shough sandwiched a bad game in between two very good games as Tech’s quarterback. Against Stephen F. Austin, Shough completed 12 passes for 174 yards with a touchdown and two interceptions. He also got nearly half of his passing yard total on one 75-yard play to Erik Ezukanma. Shough will need to be the guy from the Florida International and Houston games for the Red Raiders this weekend.
Ezukanma is the go-to wide receiver. He’s one of two Tech receiver with double-digit catches this season. Ezukanma is averaging 1167 receiving yards a game.
Colin Schooler, the brother of Longhorns safety Brendan Schooler, is Tech’s leading tackler with 20.
Texas Tech’s 2021 results
- at Houston (at NRG Stadium) | Win 38-21 | Texas Tech trailed 21-7 at halftime before scoring 31 unanswered points in the second half
- vs. Stephen F. Austin | Win 28-22 | Texas Tech again rallied from a halftime deficit, trailing 13-7. Two Tahj Brooks third quarter touchdowns put the Red Raiders ahead for good, but they there were some tense moments in the fourth quarter as SFA cut the deficit to 28-22 with seven minutes remaining in the game.
- vs. Florida International | Win 54-21 | A four-touchdown second quarter propelled the Red Raiders to its first comfortable win of the season.
Texas-Texas Tech series history
Texas owns the series win-loss record 53-17. The Longhorns have only lost to the Red Raiders four times in the last 20 meetings, but the two most-recent Tech wins came in Austin in 2015 and 2017. Texas is currently on a three-game winning streak in the series.