West Virginia Mountaineers (3-2 SU, 4-1 ATS) vs. Texas Tech Red Raiders (2-3 SU, 1-4 ATS)
College Football Week 7
Date and Time: Saturday, October 11, 2014 at 12:00PM EST
Where: Jones AT&T Stadium
TV: Fox Sports 1
by Scott, Football Handicapper, Predictem.com
Point Spread: WVU -4/TTU +4
Over/Under Total: Off
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On Saturday, the West Virginia Mountaineers come to Lubbock to take on the Texas Tech Red Raiders in a Big-12 Conference battle. Texas Tech has lost three games in a row to fall to a disappointing 2-3. On Saturday, they took a 45-13 beating at the hands of Kansas State. West Virginia beat Kansas 33-14 on Saturday to get to 3-2 and are favored to beat Texas Tech on the road.
Its unfortunate to see the Red Raiders falling apart so graphically. Their quarterback Davis Webb threw 4 more picks on Saturday and he now has 10 on the season, though he does have 16 touchdowns. The sophomore undoubtedly has talent, but at one moment he will look like a young Ben Roethlisberger and the next like an overgrown Pop Warner QB. The offensive line hasnt been all that helpful, but Webb does have a nice cast of weapons. Reginald Davis, Bradley Marquez, and Jakeem Grant are three viable pass-catching options. And the Red Raiders are averaging 5.2 yards per rush, with DeAndre Washington and Justin Stockton leading the way, with Webb springing one every now and then.
The problem with Texas Tech right now lies with their defense. In losing three straight, the Red Raiders D has allowed 139 points, while scoring only 76. At the same time, that was against Arkansas, Oklahoma State, and Kansas State–three pretty dynamic offenses. Theyll be more in their wheelhouse with some mid-pack conference talent. And while West Virginia boasts of a robust passing game, the Red Raiders have been fairly resilient in that area. Its against the run where theyve been getting torched.
West Virginia is better this year, using a vital passing game with QB Clint Trickett, who has nearly 2000 yards. WR Kevin White already has 765 yards on 48 receptions. Mario Alford has 32 catches and 4 TD catches. The Mountaineers would be advised to establish a run-game and while not great in that area at 3.9 yards per run, were seeing now-eligible Pittsburgh transfer Rushel Shell picking up steam with 380 yards and 4 touchdowns.
The results have been fairly positive so far for the Mountaineers. They played Alabama tough in week one, before beating Towson and scoring a nice road win at Maryland. They took a 45-33 loss to Oklahoma, but bounced back last week with a 19-point home win over Kansas. In a nutshell, they beat the teams they were supposed to beat, while remaining competitive with two teams who were ranked in the top 5 at the time.
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Hats off to head coach Dana Holgorsen for getting the West Virginia program back on track. It looked like he had lost some of his mojo last season with a tough 4-win campaign that saw WVU lose 6 of their last 7. They looked outmanned in a lot of spots. This isnt the same team in 2014. In an interesting little side-story, Holgorsen coached current Texas Tech coach Kliff Kingsbury at Texas Tech when Kingsbury was a quarterback. And it was under Holgorsens tenure at Houston as offensive coordinator where Kingsbury got his start in coaching.
West Virginia has actually been pretty tough on opposing quarterbacks as they approach this game against struggling Red Raiders QB Davis Webb. Against Oklahoma, they kept Trevor Knight in relative check and did the same with Blake Sims in their first game. Maryland and Kansas couldnt get much started in the air, either, so Webb might find the going even tougher on Saturday. But West Virginia, like Texas Tech, has been getting victimized in the run, so look for Washington and Stockton to step up. Both teams like to air it out, but would likely be better-suited to plug away more with the run than normal.
Looking at Texas Tech with three straight losses and the points theyre allowing, its easy to picture West Virginia coming into town and having a really good game. And they might. Its just that it would be foolhardy to relegate Texas Tech to the scrap heap prematurely. They could easily still pounce on a team and put up points in a hurry. If West Virginias back seven can hold firm, look for their offense to take over. If not, they might be in for a tough game.
West Virginia is battle-tempered from playing two good games with top-five teams. Their offense has thrived against really good defenses and Texas Tech is not that. One shouldnt expect an improving Mountaineers defense to keep Texas Tech off the board for any length of time, but in a shootout, I look for West Virginia to establish some late separation for the outright win and cover.
Scott’s Pick to Cover the Point Spread: Im betting on the West Virginia Mountaineers minus 4 points.