Two Big 12 teams that have not lived up to preseason expectations try to right their respective ships as Kansas State visits Texas Tech on Saturday night in Lubbock, Texas.
Texas Tech (3-3, 2-1) entered the season as a trendy pick to reach the Big 12 title game. After nonconference setbacks to Wyoming and Oregon and a loss to West Virginia to open the conference slate, those thoughts are long gone.
The Red Raiders have bounced back with two straight wins and coach Joey McGuire is confident his team has turned the corner heading into Saturday.
“We’re playing a really tough opponent,” he said. “They do a great job of stopping the run. It’s going to be who can impose their will. We’re running the ball really well right now and we’re going to continue to try to do that.”
Kansas State (3-2, 1-1) is coming off a 29-21 loss at Oklahoma State last Friday in which it often looked confused on offense. Will Howard threw three interceptions, raising his season total to seven.
The biggest one came right before halftime. Trailing 13-7 late in the half, Howard threw an out while his receiver ran an out-and-up. Cameron Epps picked it off at the 35 and ran untouched to the end zone.
“I’d say this one is on me,” Howard said after the game. “Obviously, I can’t put it all on myself. But I take the brunt of the blame for what went on on offense. That is what it is. It’s on me. I have got to be better.”
Kansas State has also had trouble all season allowing big plays, particularly through the air. They rank last in the Big 12 in passing yards allowed (259.0). While the Wildcats are near the top of the conference stats in most other categories, coach Chris Klieman said the whole team must improve.
“We need to be better across the board: offense, defense and special teams,” Klieman said. “We’ve got to try to pick it apart, but we also said after (the Oklahoma State loss) that we’re gonna flush it and move on.”