Texas Tech will look for its third win over a top-25 opponent in just its fifth game on Saturday as they hit the road to face the No.25 Kansas State Wildcats at Bill Snyder Family Stadium in Manhattan.
The Red Raiders (3-1, 1-0 Big 12) are coming off a memorable 37-34 overtime victory over No.22 Texas this past weekend that marked only the third time in program history Texas Tech has secured two overtime victories in the same season.
Texas Tech will look to build on that win against the Wildcats, whom they are 1-9 against in the last 10 meetings, including six consecutive losses. The only win in the previous 10 meetings came in 2015 when sophomore quarterback Patrick Mahomes led Tech over K-State 59-44 in Lubbock.
Despite the poor record against the Wildcats, the Red Raiders keep every matchup close, with four of its last six losses to K-State coming in one-possession games, including last season’s 25-24 win by the Wildcats in Lubbock.
A victory over the Wildcats would end Tech’s run of misfortune against K-State and push the Red Raiders to 2-0 in conference play for the first time since starting 4-0 against conference foes in 2013.
For their part, the Wildcats (3-1, 1-0) are also coming off a momentous win, shocking then-No.6 Oklahoma 41-34 on the road last Saturday.
The win over the Sooners elevated the expectations for the rest of the Wildcats’ season and got their season back on track after a head-scratching loss to Tulane the prior week.
Kansas State dominated Oklahoma on the ground on Saturday, racking up 275 rushing yards against a Sooner defense that entered, allowing just 118 rushing yards per contest.
The Wildcats lead the Big 12 in rushing yards per game at nearly 250, led by Vaughn, a consensus All-American, who has 468 rushing yards and three touchdowns in just four games this season.
However, this would be an excellent opportunity to let Martinez air it out, as Texas Tech’s pass defense has been one of the worst in the Big 12, while their run defense has been stout, allowing just 99.8 rushing yards per contest.
The Red Raiders have given up more than 200 yards through the air in three of the four games they have played this season. If Martinez can take advantage of a weak Red Raiders pass defense, the Wildcats’ potent run game will open up and likely be too much for Tech to overcome.
When Texas Tech has the ball, they will face one of the most dominant front sevens in college football.
Defensive linemen Eli Huggins and Felix Anudike-Uzomah have led the way for the Wildcat defense. Anudike-Uzomah is regarded as one of the top pass rushers in the nation, with 2.5 sacks and four tackles for loss on the season so far.
Texas Tech has given up 12 sacks in four games, four more than any other team in the Big 12 Conference this season.
“Defensively, last year they were one of the best defenses in the conference,” said Tech’s first-year head coach Joey McGuire. “Great defense, have an elite pass-rusher in 91 (Anudike-Uzomah), and then the one guy I’ve really enjoyed — he’s gonna keep me up at night — but really enjoyed watching him play is their nose guard No.92 (Huggins).”
Texas Tech gets most of their yardage passing the ball, ranking third in the country in passing offense at 363 yards per game.
The Red Raiders will need to rely on sophomore quarterback Donovan Smith to hit their averages. Smith played exceptionally well against the Longhorns, passing for 331 yards and two touchdowns with zero interceptions.
However, not all has been good for Smith, who took over after Week 1 starter Tyler Shough suffered an injury in the season-opener. Smith had three interceptions in the overtime win against Houston and two in the loss against NC State, so he has shown a tendency to turn the ball over.
That could bite the Red Raiders as the Wildcats have six interceptions on the year so far.
The Red Raiders must protect Smith, and he must take care of the ball for Tech to get its first win in Manhattan since 2008.
Any outcome should not be surprising, as the Big 12 has already proven to be one of the most competitive conferences. Big 12 road teams are 9-4 so far this season.
The game will kick off on Saturday at 11 a.m. CT and be aired on Big 12 Now on ESPN+.