It's no secret that the Texas Tech defense has been struggling the last three weeks.
Oklahoma, Oklahoma State and Kansas State all dominated the Red Raiders, rushing for an average of 283 yards a game while handing the Red Raiders three straight losses.
But with injuries piling up and the level of competition getting better and better, sophomore Branden Jackson has steadily raised his level of play throughout the season. In Saturday's loss, Jackson was the only Red Raider to record a sack, while also adding a TFL (tackle for loss) and three tackles. As a result, Jackson wins KCBD's Raider Zone Player of the Week.
"I'm just trying to step up and make plays," Jackson said. "Do whatever the team needs me to do. I'm just playing hard and never quitting."
During the Red Raiders three-game losing streak, Jackson has been a steady force for a defense that's shouldered most of the blame. In the last three weeks, Jackson has led Texas Tech in tackles for loss and sacks, while filling in for numerous injuries across the defense.
"I'm just playing ball right now, cutting loose and having fun," Jackson said. "People are asking me around here to step up big and there's a lot of players that will be gone next year. We lose a lot of key players, so eventually I'll have to step up so why not do it now?"
Of course, it'd be nice for the entire defense to get things corrected - and fast. Next up for the Red Raiders is red-hot Baylor. The undefeated Bears have been a juggernaut this season, averaging 61 points a game behind an incredibly balanced offense that averages 391 yards through the air and 295 yards on the ground. The Red Raiders are the overwhelming underdog in this matchup as Baylor is favored by 27 points coming in.
The opportunity is there for Texas Tech - on a national stage - to get things corrected and spoil Baylor's fairy tale season. That alone has Jackson and the Red Raiders pumped for Saturday.
"This is a big time game," Jackson said. "Big players got to step up. We've got a lot of players hyped for this game. It's in Cowboys Stadium, we're playing the number four team that's on top of the world and has aspirations of playing in the National Championship. If you can't get hyped for this game then you shouldn't be playing football.
Kickoff for Texas Tech and Baylor is set for 6 p.m. CT at AT&T Stadium in Arlington. The game will be televised on FOX.
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