GAME NOTES: Lone Star State rivals are set to do battle on Thanksgiving night, as the Texas Tech Red Raiders play their final regular-season game against the Texas Longhorns in Big 12 Conference action at Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium.
It's been a tale of two seasons for Texas Tech in 2013. It was one of the nation's most promising teams early on, as it opened Kliff Kingsbury's inaugural season as head coach with seven straight victories, rising all the way to No. 10 in the AP poll in the process. Since that hot start, however, the Red Raiders have hit a rut with four straight losses, most recently falling to high-flying Baylor on Nov. 16, 63-34.
Texas also endured a lengthy winning streak this season. After opening the campaign a disappointing 1-2, it ripped off six victories in a row to start Big 12 play, only to suffer its first league loss on Nov. 16 at home to Oklahoma State, 38-13. The Longhorns have this matchup and a Dec. 7 bout at Baylor still on the schedule, and they still have an outside shot at the Big 12 title if they can win out and Oklahoma State loses its regular-season finale versus Oklahoma.
The Longhorns hold a convincing 47-15 advantage over the Red Raiders in the all-time series, which includes a four-game win streak dating back to 2009.
For all of Texas Tech's struggles in recent weeks, the offense has still lived up to its end of the bargain, as the unit ranks third in the high-scoring Big 12 with 37.5 points per game and second with 523.5 yards per game.
The Red Raiders have used the services of two freshmen quarterback this season, with both Davis Webb (.619, 2.315 yards, 16 TDs, nine INTs) and Baker Mayfield (.655, 2,078 yards, 12 TDs, eight INTs, three rushing TDs) playing well. Mayfield earned the start in the loss to Baylor, throwing for 314 yards and four scores.
The nation's top-ranked passing offense has produced three of the top four receivers in the Big 12. Jace Amaro has dominated at tight end with 92 receptions for 1,157 yards and six touchdowns, while Eric Ward (72 receptions, 816 yards, eight TDs) and Jakeem Grant (59 receptions, 707 yards, five TDs) have shined at out wide. Brad Marquez (43 receptions, 543 yards, five TDs) is about as effective as it gets as a fourth option.
The running game often gets overlooked in this offense, but while Kenny Williams (439 yards) averages less than four yards per carry, he has scored eight touchdowns. DeAndre Washington (388 yards, four TDs) is also mixed into the action.
The problem for Texas Tech this season has undoubtedly been the play of its defense, which allows 30.3 points per game, and that number has shot up to 50.5 during the current four-game slide.
Will Smith leads the way with 88 tackles to go with a team-high 3.5 sacks. Kerry Hyder (10.5 TFL, two FF) gets a great push at the line of scrimmage, and he has also blocked two punts. Peter Robertson and J.J. Gaines have each picked off a pair of passes, although Gaines will miss the remainder of the season with a shoulder injury.
Texas too has produced strong offensive numbers (32.3 ppg, 439.7 ypg), although in its latest loss to Oklahoma State it scored only one touchdown and committed three turnovers.
Case McCoy was not at his best the last time out (26-of-39, 221 yards, three INTs), and he now has nine picks on the season, but since taking over for an injured David Ash in mid-October as the full-time starter, he has been largely productive, completing greater than 60 percent of his passes for 1,692 yards while accounting for nine touchdowns (one rushing).
After Jonathan Gray (780 yards, four TDs) was lost for the season earlier this month with a calf injury, Malcolm Brown (515 yards, nine TDs) has taken over as the club's featured back, although a full work load did not suit him well versus Oklahoma State, as he gained just 73 yards on 25 carries (2.9 ypc). Joe Bergeron (45 carries, 240 yards, three TDs) could be in line for more work down the stretch.
Jaxon Shipley has built a strong rapport with McCoy, hauling in 52 passes for 570 yards, but he has just one touchdown, while Mike Davis (42 catches, 589 yards) has scored six times.
The Longhorns defense has played well considering the offenses they face on a weekly basis, as they allow just 26.0 points and 392.1 yards per game.
The strength of the unit comes on the defensive line, where Cedric Reed (13 TFL, 7.0 sacks, four FF), Jackson Jeffcoat (16 TFL, 7.0 sacks, FF) and Malcom Brown (10 TFL) are all having solid campaigns. Steve Edmond has a team-high 72 tackles and two interceptions, while Adrian Phillips and Duke Thomas have a pair of picks as well.
Texas Tech will likely score enough to put a scare into Texas' solid defense, but it simply can't be trusted on the other side of the football, especially heading into hostile territory. Expect the Longhorns to bounce back in this one to end the Red Raiders' regular season on a sour note.
Austin, TX (SportsNetwork.com) - Case McCoy threw for two touchdowns and ran for another as the Texas Longhorns captured a 41-16 win over the Texas Tech Red Raiders in Big 12 Conference action.
McCoy converted 10-of-19 passes for 139 yards and also ran for 18 yards on six carries for the Longhorns (8-3, 7-1 Big 12) who have won seven of the last eight outings after dropping back-to-back meetings versus BYU and Ole Miss in September.
Mike Davis caught just four passes for the Longhorns, but turned those into 112 yards and two scores.
The Red Raiders (7-5, 4-5), losers of five straight after opening 2013 with seven consecutive victories, saw Baker Mayfield convert 24-of-44 passes for 237 yards, but he was intercepted once and sacked seven times. Fellow signal caller Michael Brewer connected on 7-of-7 for 65 yards and a score, but he was taken down for two sacks as well.
Tech put the first points on the board at the 9:44 mark of the first quarter when Ryan Erxleben raced 51 yards into the end zone.
The lead was short-lived however, as Texas rattled off 20 straight points between the first and second periods, beginning with a 37-yard field goal by Anthony Fera. McCoy then hooked up with Davis on a 47-yard pass play in the final second of the first quarter, followed by another field goal by Fera, this one from 49 yards away. Joe Bergeron's 12-yard scoring run with just over three minutes to play in the half finished off the streak.
Before the first half could draw to a close the Red Raiders cut into the lead when kicker Ryan Bustin converted a 32-yard field goal, leaving Texas with a 20-10 advantage at the break.
McCoy's one-yard TD run in the third, coupled with a seven-yard scoring pass to Davis just seconds into the fourth, made the score 34-10 in favor of the hosts.
Capping a seven-play, 78-yard drive, Texas Tech again made it into the end zone on a 11-yard TD catch by Jace Amaro, but a two-point conversion attempt failed, leaving the visitors with an 18-point deficit with 11:04 to play.
Tyrone Swoopes added to the lead for Texas with a one-yard scoring run later in the frame, putting the game out of reach.
The Red Raiders produced 396 yards of total offense, but the team was charged with 11 penalties for a loss of 102 yards. Will Smith logged a game-high 18 tackles, four of which were made behind the line of scrimmage for Texas Tech, but Jackson Jeffcoat stole the spotlight on that side of the ball for the Longhorns as he posted three sacks.