The Arkansas Razorbacks and Texas Tech Red Raiders will square off in what will be both teams third game of the season. Both are expected to start the season 2-0 comfortably with the Red Raiders facing Sam Houston State and UTEP at home. The Razorbacks will start with UTEP and Toledo at home. Most everybody will be spending game week comparing how both teams did vs UTEP, certainly.
Reasons why Texas Tech will be a significant underdog and lose:
This is one of the few games in which Arkansas will likely be a significant favorite this year, so this section won't likely break much new ground.
Texas Tech is coming off a disappointing 4-8 season in which they were manhandled on the defensive side of the ball. They allowed an astonishing 41.3 points per game, ranking them 126th in the nation out of 128. The 49 points Arkansas scored in Lubbock were the 2nd-most anybody scored on Tech last year (only TCU's epic 82-point performance topped it), but they still gave up 40+ points six times. The Hogs return 8+ starters from the offensive side; an offense that rushed for 438 yards in the game and completely wore out the Texas Tech defense in the 2nd half.
Their defense can't possibly be worse in 2015/16, but Arkansas shouldn't have any trouble running it down their throats again; especially in front of a raucous crowd of 70,000+ in Fayetteville.
Arkansas should continue to dominate the line of scrimmage and run the ball successfully with four returning offensive lineman. The Texas Tech defense will likely struggle to keep the Hogs off the field and fall behind as the game wears on.
How Texas Tech can pull off the upset:
The Texas Tech offense provided a bright spot as they finished 3rd in the nation in passing and 55th in scoring. They ended last season with a road victory at Iowa State and a Houston Nutt-approved moral victory with a 48-46 loss to Baylor on a neutral field.
The return of many starters is huge for a team that struggled last season. They'll return both quarterbacks from 2014/15 as junior Davis Webb and sophomore Patrick Mahomes saw plenty of playing time. Webb threw for 2,539 yards and 24 touchdowns, while completing 61.2% of his passes and throwing 13 interceptions. Mahomes became quite a spark off the bench throwing for another 1,547 yards and 16 touchdowns in just seven games. His completion percentage was slightly lower, but took care of the ball, throwing just 4 interceptions.
Texas Tech will also return 1,000+ yard rusher DeAndre Washington who's ready to improve during his senior season. The 5'8 running back averaged 5.9 yards per carry as a junior, but caught an impressive 30 balls out of the backfield. They also return the team's leading receiver Jakeem Grant, who will be entering his senior season after catching 67 passes for 938 yards and 7 touchdowns as a junior.
With the return of many offensive starters, the Red Raiders are capable of posting big numbers against an Arkansas defense that will still be inexperienced in game three of the season. The Hogs broke up a season-high 11 passes in Lubbock last year and Martrell Spaight's interception was one of the plays of the game. With many of those defensive playmakers gone, this will be the first real test to see how this Arkansas defense stacks up to last year's group.
Texas Tech must complete short passes and avoid 3-and-outs against a team that wants to control the clock. Sustaining long drives and keeping the Arkansas offense off the field will be their key to victory.
Considering this will be Arkansas' first prime time game and last game in Fayetteville for over a month, the Razorbacks shouldn't be caught looking ahead, but they do start SEC play against A&M the next week so it might be of some concern. However, I don't expect Texas Tech to look forward with revenge on their minds.
It could be another blowout win for the Razorbacks in Fayetteville, but expect the 2015/16 Texas Tech football team to compete better than last year’s version.
The Arkansas offense is clearly dangerous for the Red Raiders, but expect Texas Tech to do everything in their power to stop the run game (although they clearly weren't capable last year) and force Allen to air it out. This is where tight end Hunter Henry becomes a significant threat. Will the Red Raiders have enough to match up with the skill sets the Razorbacks showcase?