8:00 PM ET, November 22, 2008
Oklahoma Memorial Stadium, NORMAN, OK
For the third straight week, Texas Tech will play the biggest game in its history.
The No. 2 Red Raiders can clinch their first Big 12 South Division title and take another big step toward a BCS berth Saturday when they visit No. 5 Oklahoma, which is also battling for the division crown and a spot in the BCS.
Texas Tech (10-0, 6-0), trying to go 11-0 for the first time, is completing a brutal stretch with its trip to Norman to face the Sooners (9-1, 5-1). Prior to last weekend's bye, the Red Raiders won 63-21 at then-No. 19 Kansas on Oct. 25, defeated then-No. 1 Texas 39-33 on Michael Crabtree's last-second touchdown catch Nov. 1 and pounded eighth-ranked Oklahoma State 63-20 the following week.
Each win has brought more national attention to the Red Raiders, who are second in the BCS standings, and they insist the week off won't lead to a rusty performance as they continue to navigate through arguably the nation's toughest conference.
"I think we're just so focused and done such a good job of being prepared that I don't think there's any chance of that happening," Red Raiders lineman Ross Ryland said. "We just got to keep it going."
Graham Harrell has directed coach Mike Leach's pass-happy offense to a Football Bowl Subdivision-best 433.7 passing yards per game, and the Red Raiders are third in scoring at 47.9 points a contest. They've gained at least 421 yards in every game and lead the FBS in average total yards at 566.3.
Texas Tech topped 600 yards for the fourth time this season versus Oklahoma State, as Harrell threw for 456 yards and six touchdowns.
"The guy has a thorough understanding in everything they do to the point he can go blindfolded and point out every receiver on every route," Sooners coach Bob Stoops said of Harrell. "He has excellent feet in the pocket to keep himself alive on the play and throw on the run. When he has what he likes, he rarely is not going to be on the mark."
Crabtree, Harrell's favorite receiver, had eight catches for 89 yards and three touchdowns Nov. 8, his 13th straight game with a scoring reception. The sophomore, who's 28 receiving yards shy of 3,000 heading into his 24th game, had 12 catches for 154 yards and a touchdown last Nov. 17 in a 34-27 victory over the Sooners.
"I'm thinking about OU, that's what I'm thinking about," Crabtree said, dismissing the bigger BCS picture. "We take it one game at a time. It's been working so far and I think I'm going to stay with that scheme."
As potent as Texas Tech's offense is, it may be meeting its equal in Oklahoma's. The Sooners lead the FBS with 51.4 points per game, and Sam Bradford is directing the third-most proficient offense in passing yards per game (355.5) and total yards (549.8).
"He's got the size and the arm and makes good decisions back there," said Texas Tech safety Daniel Charbonnet, whose five interceptions tie him for ninth in the nation.
The Sooners have scored at least 35 points in all 10 games, but have really stepped it up offensively since a 45-35 loss to Texas on Oct. 11, averaging 57.3 points and 590.8 yards during a four-game winning streak.
Bradford threw for 320 yards and four touchdowns in a 66-28 pounding of Texas A&M on Nov. 8 as Oklahoma rolled up 653 yards of offense.
"We were really balanced with our running and passing games," Bradford said. "Our attitude is better this year. There is a different mind-set with this team. We still have a lot of our goals in front of us."
One of them will require some help to achieve. Oklahoma, fifth in the BCS, needs to win its two remaining games and have Texas lose its last game to claim the division.
DeMarco Murray and Chris Brown each ran for 100 yards against Texas A&M, and they've combined for 1,586 rushing yards and 23 touchdowns. Juaquin Iglesias has team highs of 51 receptions and 853 yards, while Manuel Johnson, Jermaine Gresham and Ryan Broyles each have at least 30 catches, 500 yards and five TDs.
Leach, who served as offensive coordinator under Stoops at Oklahoma in 1999 before taking over the Red Raiders, has never won in four trips to Norman as Texas Tech coach. He had a chance to win the South Division title in 2002, only to be knocked from contention with a 60-15 Sooners rout.
Bradford was knocked out of last year's matchup with a concussion in the first quarter, and Harrell threw for two touchdowns and ran for a third as Texas Tech scored 27 straight first-half points. Harrell finished with 420 yards passing, and the Red Raiders limited Murray and Brown to 126 combined rushing yards and no scores.
Top 25 Overview
Another week, another biggest game ever for Texas Tech. After beating No. 1 Texas and No. 9 Oklahoma State in consecutive weeks, the Red Raiders face their toughest challenge to date: at Oklahoma. It should be an all-out aerial assault, as both teams are in the top 5 in passing. Texas Tech can clinch the Big 12 South with a win.
Takeaways will be key in a fairly even matchup
|Avg Points Allowed||26.1||23.4|