It goes without saying, but Texas Tech could really use a win Saturday.
After dropping back-to-back games against its toughest competition to date, the Red Raiders (7-2, 4-2) are suddenly reeling. They've fallen from the Big 12 Championship picture, their Top Ten ranking has sunk all the way to 25, and now their attention shifts back to the basics - like simply getting back in the win column and preventing a three-game losing streak when they go against a rolling Kansas State Wildcats (4-4, 2-3) team.
Putting all three phases of the game together for the first time this season would certainly help.
"I don't think we're down," Kingsbury said. "I think you learn from each loss. I've said all along, we haven't played our best game, and I think that's what keeps this group excited. When we do put it together, we can be pretty good."
They can start by shoring up the run defense, which has allowed 191 rushing yards per game in Big 12 play. That number has been even worse the last two weeks as Oklahoma and Oklahoma State pounded the rock for a combined 558 yards - a 279 yard average - on their way towards handing Tech its first two losses of the season.
Saturday presents a K-State rushing attack that ranks fourth in the Big 12 in rushing yards per game, with 186 a contest. Now that Texas Tech appears vulnerable in the running game, coach Kingsbury expects Bill Snyder's club to continue trying to expose it.
"They're going to hand it off every time until we stop it," Kingsbury predicts. "So we're going to know what's coming. But K State also does a great job with their play action game, so you still have to be disciplined. But I expect them to come in and try to enforce their will and run it all day."
As far as recent performances go, Kansas State is on the opposite end of the spectrum compared to Texas Tech. The Wildcats come rolling into Lubbock, winning their last two games by a combined score of 76-19. Of course, those two wins came in Manhattan against Big 12 bottom feeders (West Virginia and Iowa State), but there's no doubting a team coached by Bill Snyder.
"He's one of the greatest stories in college football history. When you look at what he's done there two times and just so well respected in our profession," Kingsbury said. "You have to come prepared and make sure you have your best game plan ready. All three phases are going to be well coached and they're not going to give you anything. It's going to be one of those games where you have to make the play and take it, because there won't be any cheap ones."
The Wildcats, like the Red Raiders, have struggled all season in the turnover department. In fact, Saturday's game features the two worst teams in the conference in turnover margin. The Wildcats are minus-6 on the season (18 turnovers compared to 12 takeaways) while Texas Tech is minus-7 (22, 15).
Saturday also marks Senior Day for Texas Tech as 18 Red Raiders will be playing their final game at Jones AT&T Stadium. Sending guys like Kerry Hyder, Terrance Bullitt, Eric Ward and others out with a win is a big time motivator for Texas Tech.
"I want to go out on a good note," Senior Eric Ward said. "I want to win my last home game, of course. It's bittersweet because it's my last time playing a home game in the Jones. But I know the fans will be there supporting us. I just want to go out there and play my heart out for my team."
In addition to all the pageantry that goes with Senior Day, Saturday is also the "Lone Survivor Game" where Texas Tech will pay tribute to our nation's veterans and active duty military personnel.
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