7 Points Preview: Texas Tech vs. Ole Miss

Last one of the year!

1. Game Info

Texas Tech Red Raiders (7-5)
Ole Miss Rebels (8-4)
December 28th @ 8:00 p.m.
NRG Stadium – Houston, Texas
Ole Miss -3.5
Avg 64-46

2. Stats

Advanced Stats: Sharp Football, we meet one last time with stats that are slightly better than what the rest of the country thinks regarding these two teams.

Texas Tech Offense vs. Ole Miss Defense: This is one of those times where maybe the stats of the Texas Tech don’t necessarily demonstrate where it is right now. With Tyler Shough sort of coming into his own the last few weeks, it’s a bit different. Passing is still a strength and having highly efficient drives seem like a hallmark and it also seems like things that the Ole Miss defense isn’t good at, which is a positive for Texas Tech.

Texas Tech Defense vs. Ole Miss Offense: So, the Ole Miss offense is pretty great! The thing that bothers me is that they are one of the best rushing teams in the nation AND also incredibly explosive AND they hardly have any negative drives. That seems unfair. I think I heard Lane Kiffin say that the running game is really a pro-style running game with some Baylor passing concepts. Lane basically borrowed (stole) from Kendall Briles when he was the OC there.

3. Positional Battles

RB #4 Quinshon Judkins (FR | 5-11/210) and RB #6 Zach Evans (JR | 6-0/215): Judkins is pretty awesome, averaging 123 yards a game with 16 touchdowns and gets 21 attempts for 1,474 yards. Not a huge receiving threat with only 13 receptions, but he doesn’t need to be. Remember Evans, the former TCU running back didn’t start for Ole Miss, but he’s a yard short of 900 on the year, averaging 6.6 yards a carry, 12 carries a game and nearly 82 yards rushing a game.

QB #2 Jaxson Dart (SO | 6-2/220): Dart is the former USC signal caller who arrived in Oxford. Dart completes 63% of his passes for about 218 yards a game, about 8.1 yards per attempt, with 18 touchdowns and 8 picks. Dart averages about 10 carries a game, so he’s going to run the ball and nearly 5 yards a carry. Those interceptions aren’t something happening in a bundle, at most he has 2 and that was against Vanderbilt back in October. He’s pretty darn careful.

LB #8 Troy Brown (SR | 6-1/220) and LB #23 Khari Coleman (JR | 6-2/220): Brown is sort of the do-it-all linebacker for Ole Miss, 91 tackles on the year, 2.5 tackles for a loss, half a sack, 5 passes broken up, 4 quarterback hurries, and 1 forced fumble. Not a ton of stuff happening behind the line of scrimmage, but he’s obviously making plays. Coleman only has 35 tackles on the year, but he’s got 9.5 tackles for a loss and 4.5 sacks and my guess is that he’s the one flying behind the line of scrimmage.

S #13 Ladarius Tennison (SO | 5-9/200): Tennison has 47 total tackles, but 9.0 tackles for a loss on the year, along with 2 passes broken up.

4. Keys to the Game

Key #1: Rushing Offense Makes the Total Offense Great: One of Mississippi’s best advantages is that they are running the damn hell out of the ball, 3rd in the nation in rushing offense with 262 yards a game, which has allowed the Rebs to be 9th overall in total offense at 491 yards a game. We’ve gotten to the running back above, but the other key is that Ole Miss is 126th in time of possession, which means that despite the fact that they are running the ball, they are absolutely scoring quickly and efficiently.

Key #2: When You Run You Convert: Ole Miss is 12th in the nation in 3rd down conversions and they only have 14.5 conversion opportunities per game, while converting 48% of those opportunities. Compared to Texas Tech, where the offense has 16 attempts and only converts 37% and is 94th in the nation. My guess is that Ole Miss is rarely in a bad yardage situation because they’re running the ball so much and as a result, they have a lot of 3rd and shorts rather than third and 5+ yards.

Key #3: Defense Is Susceptible: The defense is okay, but not great. The advanced stats sort of show the same thing, but statistically, the defense is 68th in the nation in total yards allowed and 82nd in passing efficiency defense, which bodes well for Texas Tech. Additionally, the defense isn’t necessarily stopping teams on 3rd downs, 70th in the nation overall, and 121st in red zone defense. Get the ball in the red zone and good things will likely happen.

5. Burning Question

How do you eulogize Mike Leach?

How do you eulogize someone that’s not supposed to be gone? Like a lot of you, I wasn’t prepared for the news when Mike Leach passed away.

The Staking The Plains tagline, “The gritty two-star receiver of sports blogs.” was born from Brian DonCarlos, but that that tagline would have never been accurate had it not been for Mike Leach. The gritty two-star receiver who went on to become a star was sort of the epitome of what Mike Leach was about.

Heck, I feel like that gritty two-star receiver, I don’t really ever know if I’m supposed to be where I’m at and I feel like where I’m at not because I’m necessarily talented, because I don’t believe that I am, but because I persisted and was consistent and I simply never stopped writing even if I wasn’t sure what I was doing or if what I was doing was doing any good.

And that was Leach. He persisted. His offense was that of persistence, the same thing over and over again because a person that can do a thing perfectly will likely be better than the person who cannot. And it was that persistence that created the Air Raid. It created accurate quarterbacks. It created receivers who always caught the ball.

And in a way, it created a lot of the persona that is Texas Tech. We the underdog? Don’t care. 4th and 5 from your own 30? Let’s go. Down by 30? Fine, let’s go and score.

And all of this doesn’t even include the human impact he made along the way. That’s significant and a way that I can’t really comprehend because I that’s the human aspect and the connections he had with his wife, his kids, and grandkids that we’ll never know about.

A salute to Mike Leach, a life well lived and without a doubt, he contributed in ways beyond my words. Rest in peace.

6. Lagniappe

lagniappe | something given as a bonus or extra gift


Winnin’ that rodeo.

Clarion Ledger’s David Eckert: Ole Miss football knows Texas Tech’s high-tempo offense well. How much does it matter?

Houston Chronicle’s Richard Dean: Texas Tech has a shot at eight wins in Joey McGuire’s first year

College Football News: Ole Miss vs Texas Tech TaxAct Texas Bowl Prediction Game Preview

Action Network: Texas Tech vs Ole Miss Odds, Picks, Prediction | Texas Bowl Betting Guide

7. Prediction

Odds are that Ole Miss wins, but if Texas Tech can tighten up some fits to stop the Rebel rushing attack, I think Texas Tech can pull off an unlikely win. It wouldn’t be a huge upset, but enough to be an upset. Shough’s been really good and tough, the exact sort of quarterback you want and it will be fun to watch these two offenses go at it for a full game. I’ll take Texas Tech and those points. Let’s go.


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