In a weekend that features some top-end nonconference games, Texas Tech’s home game against Houston has the chance to be the most fun. It pairs one of college football‘s top players — Houston defensive tackle Ed Oliver — against a Texas Tech offense that just scored 77 points with a true freshman quarterback, albeit against Lamar. 

A win here would carry plenty of meaning for both teams. It would move Houston to 2-0 against Power Five opponents and likely keep them undefeated until conference play. Texas Tech needs a solid bounce-back effort against a name school after getting boatraced by Ole Miss in Week 1. This may not have landscape-wide implications, but it’s still an important measuring stick for both sides. 

Game information

Date: Saturday, Sept. 15 | Time: 4:15 p.m. ET
Location: Jones AT&T Stadium — Lubbock, Texas

Storylines

Houston: Talk about a tale of two games for the Cougars. They needed to pull away from Rice in Week 1 but followed that up by scorching Arizona and Khalil Tate, who is now restricter-plated for reasons unknown to the masses. Oliver continues to be a difference-maker, but quarterback D’Eriq King could get some attention with another big game (he had six total scores against Arizona). 

Texas Tech: Getting sledded by the Rebels wasn’t a great look for what could have been an improved defense, but it wasn’t unexpected. Ole Miss’ offense is made exclusively of large, fast people who are problems for their size alone. And while it’s fun (usually) to earn a goose egg, shutting out Lamar as a follow-up isn’t going to change any narratives. The Red Raiders are a team of questions right now, and this goes for the offense, too. Can quarterback Alan Bowman replicate his Week 2 debut if McLane Carter isn’t ready? This feels like an important test. 

What needs to happen

Houston: Texas Tech receiver T.J. Vasher can’t have a mega game. He’s the mismatch on the outside. He hasn’t scored a touchdown yet, but his one-handed grab in Week 1 was sick. Houston needs an off game from him. Otherwise, he’s going to be nightmare. 

Texas Tech: Since turnovers are oftentimes a matter of luck, it will be critical that luck happens in favor of Texas Tech’s defense. However it gets them, Tech probably needs at least two turnovers from Houston to win. If nothing else, they’re drive stoppers.

Game prediction, picks

You wouldn’t peg this game to be one fought in the trenches, but Texas Tech’s protection hasn’t allowed a sack yet and Oliver is one of the best disrupters in the college game. If the Cougars can keep Tate in check — even if he’s being misused — then that seems to bode well for this game. Pick: Houston (-1)


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