When Kansas has the ball
Kansas rush offense vs. Texas Tech rush defense
Although the Jayhawks have not been quite as strong running the ball so far in 2013 as they were in 2012, they still rank fourth in the Big 12, at 166 yards per game, and take the field with the ability to hand the ball to several different players and get production. James Sims (94 yards per game) ranks second among all Big 12 backs, and Tony Pierson, though more of a pass-catcher now, remains a potential weapon out of the backfield. The Red Raiders’ defense, which ranks seventh in the conference, has been much stronger against the run (fourth) than the pass. Edge: Kansas.
Kansas pass offense vs. Texas Tech pass defense
It’s hard to say whether KU’s struggling passing game — KU ranks last in the Big 12 in pass offense — or Texas Tech’s struggling pass defense — the Red Raiders rank ninth in the Big 12 in pass D — will have the upper hand in this week’s conference opener for Kansas. Pierson and Brandon Bourbon lead the Jayhawks in receptions, and although the Jayhawks have had difficulty getting their receivers involved in the passing game, both Christian Matthews and Rodriguez Coleman stepped up down the stretch to pull out the victory against Louisiana Tech two weeks ago. Texas Tech is surrendering an average of 250 yards per game through the air and has allowed opposing passers to connect on 60 percent of their passes. Edge: Push.
When Texas Tech has the ball
Texas Tech rush offense vs. Kansas rush defense
This is a dream matchup for KU’s run defense, which ranks ninth in the Big 12 through three games and has allowed a 100-yard rusher in each of its past two games. The reason? Texas Tech comes in ranked 10th in the Big 12 in rushing offense, averaging just 112 yards per game and 3.6 yards per carry. The Jayhawks have been vulnerable to runs up the middle and quarterbacks who can tuck it and run, but Tech does not figure to do much of either. Seventy-nine percent of the Red Raiders’ total offense has come through the air. Edge: Push.
Texas Tech pass offense vs. Kansas pass defense
KU nickel back Victor Simmons said it best when asked which Texas Tech quarterback KU’s defense had been preparing for this week — true freshman Baker Mayfield, red-shirt freshman Davis Webb or sophomore Michael Brewer: “In my eyes, they’re the same guy just a different number.” They also all can put up numbers. Tech has juggled its quarterbacks some this season, largely because of injuries, but Mayfield has been the starter in each of the Red Raiders’ four victories, and his numbers — 99-for-150 passing for 1,120 yards and eight touchdowns — have shown why. Mayfield is the Big 12’s second-leading passer in yards per game (280), and he has no shortage of weapons to utilize, with tight end Jace Amaro (367 yards and a touchdown on 29 receptions), Eric Ward (221, 1, 20), Jakeem Grant (212, 2, 18) and Brad Marquez (269, 4, 17) getting the most action. Edge: Texas Tech.
The Red Raiders are most dangerous on special teams in returns. Three players average more than eight yards per punt return and three more average more than 16 yards per kickoff return. Place kicker Ryan Bustin has hit nine of 10 field-goal tries this season and is perfect on 18 extra-point tries. The Jayhawks have shown tremendous improvement in this area so far, with punter Trevor Pardula (49.7-yard average) being the brightest star and place kicker Matthew Wyman (3-for-5, including a 52-yard game winner against Louisiana Tech) adding a legitimate field-goal leg to the KU lineup. Edge: Texas Tech.