Game location: LaVell Edwards Stadium, Provo, UT
Game time/channel: 7:00 PM ET/FS1
Spread: -3 (Texas Tech)
Most Recent Matchup: 1940
Yes, you read that right. The Cougars and Red Raiders have not squared off on the gridiron since before the bombing of Pearl Harbor. We don’t know many details about that matchup, other than the Pete Cawthon-led Red Raiders defeated Eddie Kimball’s Cougars 21-20.
This will be Texas Tech’s first trip to Provo and first trip to the state of Utah, period.
Head coach: Joey McGuire
2023 Season Thus Far
The Red Raiders have been snake-bitten by injuries, especially at quarterback. They opened the year with Oregon transfer Tyler Shough under center. He broke his leg in Week 4 against West Virginia, which essentially ended his season for the third time. He has suffered Taysom Hill-like luck with health.
Behren Morton took over and has performed admirably. He threw for three touchdowns in their win against Baylor. However, he too suffered an injury and left the game against Kansas State. His status is in doubt for the BYU game.
Third-stringer and freshman Jake Strong took over midgame to mixed results. He ended up throwing three interceptions, which helped Kansas State seal the 38-21 win in Lubbock.
Texas Tech enters the game against BYU at 3-4, with their own bowl hopes in doubt. The loser of this game might struggle to make a bowl game.
BYU will likely be facing yet another inexperienced backup, as they did against TCU.
Let’s hope the Cougars look prepared this time.
When BYU Has the Ball
It does not appear like the running game is an overnight fix, or even a mid-season fix. Be it personnel, coaching, or scheme, something is clearly broken when BYU tries to run the ball. BYU will need to get creative to create offense in other ways besides the traditional run game.
BYU is tied for dead last in all the FBS in yards per carry.
That starts with Kedon Slovis. He had his worst statistical game of his entire career against TCU. His 75.8 passer rating and 44.1 percent completion percentage were the worst of any of his 44 career games.
Quite simply, BYU will not win unless Slovis plays more like he did against Cincinnati and Arkansas. BYU cannot afford to give away the ball twice as well.
Chase Roberts is BYU’s best receiver. Isaac Rex is a great tight end. Both of those players need to be at their best. It’s time for Kody Epps to make an impact in 2023, as well.
When Texas Tech Has the Ball
BYU needs to do what they failed miserably at last week- harass a backup quarterback. If Strong is the guy for the Red Raiders, BYU needs to make sure he never settles in like Josh Hoover of TCU did a week ago. Tyler Batty, Blake Mangelson, Isaiah Bagnah, and company need to make an impact in the pass rush.
The Texas Tech offense has not been as explosive as years past. They are 44th in scoring and 58th in total offense. The offense goes as running back Tahj Brooks goes.
Much like TCU last week, TTU has a top 10 rusher in the FBS. Brooks ranks fifth in rushing yards and sixth in total carries. BYU will need to stop him to stop the Red Raiders.
How BYU Can Win
As mentioned, both of these teams have a hint of desperation. BYU is anxious to flush the disaster that was the game against TCU. Texas Tech might be down to their third quarterback this season and will face an uphill battle to make a bowl if they lose to the Cougars.
The biggest factor in favor of BYU is that the sky will be dark and LaVell Edwards Stadium will be full for a raucous Homecoming environment. That might just be what tips the scale in BYU’s favor. The offense has shown to be opportunistic and the Cougars need to continue that.
The defense should bounce back. Clearly, the Cougars are improved on defense but not yet a finished product.
The hope is that the embarrassment BYU felt against TCU is a motivating factor. BYU should come out focused and prepared for a crucial home win.
Prediction: BYU 31, Texas Tech 30