Texas/Texas Tech Both Go Conservative

JIM HURLEY'S HANDICAPPING NOTEBOOK

HOW DO YOU HYPE VANILLA ICE CREAM?

ESPN has been doing the best job it could this week to hype Saturday Night's Texas/Texas Tech game that will be nationally televised on ABC (part of the ESPN "family"of networks when it comes to sports). You may have seen the promo's Thursday and Friday Night during the weeknight telecasts.

They flashed back to two years ago. A wild and crazy crowd in Lubbock. Colt McCoy trying to lead the Horns to victory. Misery and heartache for Texas when Michael Crabtree catches a last second TD pass to win the game for the Red Raiders. An explosion of joy for those in black and red.

WHO COULD FORGET THAT GAME?

Yes, it was truly one of the great college games ever. We can't deny that. But, Colt McCoy is holding a clipboard in Cleveland right now for a head coach that doesn't think he should have been drafted there in the first place. Michael Crabtree has been making headlines for the wrong reasons ever since getting drafted by San Francisco. New game, new cast of characters. Hey, ESPN...why aren't you hyping THIS game?

Ah...it's not that hard to figure out. THERE'S NOTHING TO HYPE ABOUT THIS GAME!

You can't hype vanilla ice cream.

Texas Tech is no longer coached by pirate-minded Mike Leach. He was just a little too flavorful (and expensive) for the West Texas palate once college defenses started figuring out how to defend spread offenses that pass a lot. He's been replaced by Tommy Tuberville, who may be a lot of fun in private...but who has played one of the most boring brands of football we've seen over the past decade.

For its part, Texas is playing this year like they're being coached by Tommy Tuberville. Mack Brown also realized that defenses are catching on to spread passing schematics, and decided he wanted to play a lot more like Alabama stylistically than Missouri. That's probably a smart move in terms of trying to win a championship. It makes for more boring football though.

The local media in Texas has been aggressive about focusing on how Texas is finally going to play "real"football...but then quick to call the action BORING once they see what it looks like in practice. You'll note the stats from the first two Texas games this season are very pedestrian considering the caliber of opponents they were facing.

TEXAS 34, RICE 17
Total Yardage: Texas 369, Rice 219
Rushing Yardage: Texas 197, Rice 88
Passing Stats: Texas 14-24-0-172, Rice 12-18-1-131
Turnovers: Texas 1, Rice 2
Halftime Score: Texas 24, Rice 10
Vegas Line: Texas by 30, total of 56

Comments: Rice is extremely undersized, and doesn't have the physical toughness to stay with a national power for four quarters. They are improving in that area under this coaching regime. But, they still should have no business holding a team like Texas to under 400 yards no matter what the Horns are trying to do on offense. You'll note that Texas barely scored more than the Vegas spread. They were supposed to win by something like 43-13 based on the Vegas line. They needed some cheap points to even get in the neighborhood. Oh, you know what Colt McCoy's Horns did against teams like Rice. There's no reason to even list the scores and the yardage.

TEXAS 34, WYOMING 7
Total Yardage: Wyoming 257, Texas 389
Rushing Yardage: Wyoming 58, Texas 167
Passing Stats: Wyoming 20-31-0-199, Texas 22-35-0-222
Turnovers: Wyoming 0, Texas 0
Halftime Score: Wyoming 7, Texas 20
Vegas Line: Texas by 28, total of 51

Comments: Again, Texas barely scored more than the Vegas spread. Again, they couldn't reach 400 yards of total offense against a team that shouldn't slow them down to this degree. Texas did open things up in the air a big more. But, you can see there were 13 incomplete passes for Texas (more than Wyoming had while trying to throw on the much superior Texas defense). The low turnover counts show that Texas is avoiding mistakes. They are grinding out victories in an "Alabama style"to this point. What happens when they step up in class against teams who are better than Rice and Wyoming. Most everyone they play from this point forward will be better than Rice and Wyoming by a good bit.

Texas Tech would love to make a statement tonight with a win for the new regime. Nothing would make the locals forget Mike Leach sooner than a win over Texas. Nothing will bring Leach's name BACK into the discussion faster than a bad performance vs. Texas. You could argue that the flow of the Red Raider season will be largely influenced by what happens tonight.

To this point, Tech has also been methodically defeating lesser opponents...

TEXAS TECH 35, SMU 27
Total Yardage: SMU 327, Texas Tech 431
Rushing Yardage: SMU 109, Texas Tech 72
Passing Stats: SMU 21-38-3-218, Texas Tech 34-53-0-359
Turnovers: SMU 4, Texas Tech 1
Halftime Score: SMU 7, Texas Tech 21
Vegas Line: Texas Tech by 14, total of 60

Comments: Tech had a big second half lead, then started to sit on it too early. You can see that they haven't transitioned well to the running game yet. SMU is like Rice in terms of physicality. You should be able to run on them for more than this. Red Raider fans had to be happy with the 350+ passing yards. Just be aware that it came on 53 attempts. That's not really a great volume for that many throws at this level.

Here's what happened last week for Tech...

TEXAS TECH 52, NEW MEXICO 17
Total Yardage: Texas Tech 462, New Mexico 433
Rushing Yardage: Texas Tech 152, New Mexico 97
Passing Stats: Texas Tech 24-41-0-310, New Mexico 32-52-2-336
Turnovers: Texas Tech 2, New Mexico 3
Halftime Score: Texas Tech 31, New Mexico 17
Vegas Line: Texas Tech by 24, total of 56

Comments: New Mexico is horrible. This is the team that allowed infinity to Oregon two weeks ago. Texas Tech had two turnovers and threw 17 incomplete passes against a non-defense. Now...52 points and 462 yards is nothing to sneeze at typically. And, we don't want to make it sound like Tech lost the game or anything. Just be aware that this was a poor statistical showing in context. Real teams are more than +29 yards against the Lobos. It's a strike against the defense in particular that they couldn't keep SMU from staging a comeback, then allowed more than 400 yards to New Mexico. If push comes to shove against Texas, who's defense is going to rule the day? No contest.

To us, there are two keys questions to answer if you're trying to handicap tonight's game:

  • Will Texas show poise and maturity at a hostile road site with their new style and new quarterback? Trying something new has the best chance to BACKFIRE in this kind of environment. You struggle early, then nobody has confidence that anything is going to work. Everyone looks at each other, starts pointing fingers, and you just bring the opposing crowd MORE into the game. The Horns must keep their composure, and maintain their control at the point of attack.
  • Will the Texas Tech defense be able to play four quarters of decent football? They haven't yet, against teams much softer than Texas. The "newness"issue is in play with this program too because of the coaching change. Frustrated glances, finger pointing, it can all happen on this side of the field too.

This one could get very interesting needless to say. We can't tell you here in the NOTEBOOK if this game is part of our package. You have to sign up to find out! Game day releases are available now here at the website for our Saturday slate. Be sure you're back bright and early Sunday for the NFL. If you'd like to talk to one of our representatives for more details about available packages, call the office at 1-800-323-4453. They can explain the nuances of our various programs. Click below for more info.

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Major releases are going today and tomorrow. Don't you dare make a move this weekend until you hear WHAT JIM HURLEY HAS TO SAY!

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