Game day primer: What you need to know entering Arkansas-Texas Tech matchup
Arkansas suffered a terrible loss last Saturday at the hands of Toledo and will look to get things turned around this week against Texas Tech. Here’s some information to get you ready for game day.
Texas Tech at Arkansas, Saturday 7 p.m., (ESPN2)
Weather: 74 degrees, 20 percent chance of rain
Line: Razorbacks are favored to win by 11 points.
Numbers to know:
*Arkansas holds a 29-7 all-time record over Texas Tech, and took down the Red Raiders last season, 49-28 in Lubbock, Texas. Beginning in 1957, the Razorbacks won the first nine games of the series before Texas Tech earned its first victory over Arkansas in 1966. Last year’s contest was the first between the two since 1991.
*Texas Tech travels to Fayetteville, Ark., with the nation’s No. 2 passing offense (441 yards per game) and No. 3 scoring offense (64 points per game). The Red Raiders have put up 882 passing yards in their first two games against Sam Houston State and UTEP. Texas Tech scored a season-high 69 points against the Miners. By comparison, Arkansas hung 48 points on UTEP in its season opener.
*Texas Tech quarterback Patrick Mahomes ranks No. 2 in the nation in passing (393 ypg), while Arkansas quarterback Brandon Allen comes in at No. 5 (360 ypg). Mahomes has thrown eight touchdowns to one interception, and Allen has tossed for four scores and one interception. Allen’s numbers are way up from last year when he finished the season as the No. 84-ranked passing quarterback in the nation.
*The Red Raiders have one of the nation’s worst rushing defenses in the country, ranking No. 121 out of 128 FBS schools. Texas Tech is giving up an average of 272 rushing yards per game, and opponents have averaged 5.9 yards per carry.
*The Razorbacks rushing attack hasn’t been much better, averaging just 4.38 yards per carry. Arkansas picked up a measly 103 yards on 31 carries against Toledo last week, and it ranks as the 11th-best rushing offense in the SEC. The Razorbacks’ rushing attack finished at No. 5 in the SEC a season ago.
Storylines to watch:
*Arkansas’ response: The way I see it, this can go one of two ways. Arkansas can either come out like a team on steroids, and at least attempt to prove that last week’s loss was a fluke. Or, the Razorbacks can come out still licking their wounds from last Saturday and disappoint for a second straight week. Coach Bret Bielema said his team lacked in physicality last weekend against Toledo, so look for Arkansas’ big boys up front to try and lead the rushing attack. If Sam Houston State and UTEP could do it, chances are Arkansas can too.
*The growth of Mahomes: Mahomes didn’t play in the Red Raiders’ loss to Arkansas last season, but competed in seven games at quarterback for Texas Tech in 2014. As a freshman, Mahomes threw for 1,547 yards, 16 touchdowns and four interceptions. He’s been dynamic this year as well, throwing for a combined 786 yards through the air. But he’s not playing a cupcake served on a silver platter this week. Even though Arkansas was embarrassed last weekend, it still plays in the SEC and boasts a capable defense. Saturday’s game will be the first real chance that Texas Tech fans will get to see just how much Mahomes has grown from last season, and what the potential future of their program could look like.
*Who wins the rushing battle: Texas Tech is going to sling the ball over the field on offense. That’s a given. But the real battle to keep an eye on is the Red Raiders’ front seven versus the Arkansas rushing attack. It’s a bad rushing defense (one of the worst) against what many thought would be a promising running game with Arkansas. If Texas Tech is able to stop Arkansas’ running backs, the Red Raiders will gain a lot of confidence before they host TCU next weekend. If the Razorbacks are unable to assert themselves on the ground, well, that’s just not good with conference play around the corner.
My prediction: Arkansas 34, Texas Tech 27