Last year, Iowa State started the second-half falloff of Texas Tech, picking up over 500 yards of total offense and almost going up 28-0 in the first quarter of the game if it wasn’t for a goal line fumble late in the period.
Oct 29, 2011; Lubbock, TX, USA; Iowa State Cyclones running back Jeff Woody (32) celebrates his touchdown against the Texas Tech Red Raiders in the first half at Jones AT
If fans are expecting more of the same this time around, it may not be as easy.
1. Iowa State running attack vs. Texas Tech rush defense
What aided Jared Barnett was Iowa State’s running game, picking up 368 yards on the ground against Texas Tech. This year, things look to be a little different. The Red Raiders are currently ranked 11th in the nation on rush defense, holding teams to just 75 yards a game and have yielded one touchdown.
Leading junior linebacker, Will Smith, has 12 tackles on the year Both Shontrelle Johnson and James White should avoid him and attack the younger sophomores to try and recreate what happened a season ago.
2. Cyclones’ senior wide receivers vs. Red Raiders’ senior safeties
Texas Tech supplies two seniors starting at the right and left safety positions in their newly-installed 4-3 defense. Both D.J. Johnson (left) and Cody Davis (right) lead their team in tackles with 14 and 18, respectively. Naturally, the scheme change has not only helped their rush defense, but their pass defense as well – they’re currently ranked first in the nation.
Iowa State didn’t need to rely on much passing last year, but in case they do, Josh Lenz has some help. Seniors Chris Young and Aaron Horne have emerged as the top receivers so far this season, and will test how true the pass defense is.
3. Who will win on third down conversions?
Both teams have suffocated the opponent with just a 27 percent success rate on third downs. Texas State saw the most success going 6-15, but Iowa State doesn’t contain a meager passing game like the Red Raiders’ opponents have had.
On the other side, Iowa State will face their stiffest test yet. Former opponents rank in the 60’s nationally in third down conversions. Texas Tech? They’re number two.
Brian Spaen is the lead editor for Clones Confidential. Keep up with the latest sports fails and disdain toward the Big Ten by following him on Twitter.