|Red Raiders poised to take a big step|
|Written by Admin|
|Friday, 03 October 2008 06:52|
This time, the Red Raiders hope to avoid the inevitable letdown that always seems to come with it.
Emboldened by its highest ranking in 32 years, No. 7 Texas Tech (4-0) heads to Manhattan on Saturday to face Kansas State, determined not to let another opportunity wash away in disappointment.
be so big.''
The Red Raiders know a thing or two about losing big games.
M and a six-game winning streak to open the 1998 season ended with against Colorado.
It isn't just a recent trend, either.
Ranked fifth and undefeated after eight games in 1976, Texas Tech saw any hopes of a national title fizzle with a 27-19 loss to No. 9 Houston.
Way back in 1938, the Red Raiders went through the regular season undefeated, only to lose to St. Mary's (Calif.) in the Cotton Bowl, taking them out of a national title discussion that eventually ended with Texas Christian.
With a history that includes no trips to the Big 12 title game, much less a national championship, Texas Tech isn't about to let up on anyone - particularly after watching top-ranked Southern California fall to Oregon State and three other top-10 teams lose last weekend.
``We talked about just like John Wooden says, it's important to respect everyone and fear no one,'' Leach said. ``If you don't respect everyone, any of them can beat you. If you fear anybody, then you can't have great victories like Oregon State did.''
advantage on Saturday.
The Red Raiders' closest game so far was a 16-point win over Nevada and they've averaged 45.8 points per game, third in the nation. Texas Tech has the country's best passing game with 426.2 yards per game and is third in total offense at 572.8 yards.
Kansas State, while 3-1, hasn't exactly been overwhelming, holding off Louisiana-Lafayette 45-37 week, getting overrun by Louisville 38-29 the week before. The Wildcats have one of the nation's worst rushing defenses, allowing 206.5 yards per game, and have lost their last three games against Texas Tech by a combined score of 132-64.
The thing about Kansas State, though, is that the Wildcats have a knack for beating ranked teams.
They bumped off fourth-ranked Texas by three in 2006, did it again last year, beating the seventh-ranked Longhorns by 20. There was the upset victory over top-ranked Oklahoma in the 2003 Big 12 championship game, a win over No. 11 USC in 2002, knocking off No. 4 Nebraska two years before.
``I think it's going to be a huge test to us,'' Texas Tech offensive lineman Brandon Carter said.
It certainly won't be easy for the Wildcats.
Texas Tech has been building its program with an eye on a season like this, developing a winning system, finding players who'll fit into what they're trying to do.
ontending for the Big 12 title, possible a national championship.
Kansas State is still establishing a foundation under third-year coach Ron Prince, hoping to regain the success it had under his predecessor, Bill Snyder.
The Wildcats have made strides offensively, particularly behind quarterback Josh Freeman, but are still trying to find themselves defensively - one of the key reasons they haven't won more than seven games since 2003.
``It's going to be a tremendous challenge,'' Prince said. ``They're one of the very best teams in the country and obviously have been doing it for a long time. They've built a team the way they would like it and they've got some of the very best players in college football.''
Kansas State figures to have some success on offense.
Texas Tech's defense is middle of the road, decent success at the expense of overmatched opponents, while the Wildcats are one of the nation's best passing teams at nearly 300 yards per game.
The problem for Kansas State comes on the other side of the ball.
Texas Tech has one of college football's most dynamic offenses over the past few decades, churning out yards in video game proportions. Quarterback Graham Harrell has raced up the all-time NCAA passing list, on pace to finish second to Hawaii's Timmy Chang by the end of the season.
son - to 146.5 - and scoring 12 of its 24 touchdowns this season on the ground.
That's not good news for a team that's had trouble tackling and gave up 335 yards rushing against Louisiana-Lafayette last week. Kansas State's only chance may be to trade Texas Tech punch for punch.
``I know our defense is going to have its hands full, but I believe in those guys,'' Freeman said. ``I think they're going to step up and play a great game. If we just play our game on offense, I think we'll be just fine.''