Mandatory Credit: Photo by Eric Gay/AP/Shutterstock (13400651w) Texas running back Bijan Robinson (5) runs against UTSA during an NCAA college football game, in Austin, Texas UTSA Texas Football, Austin, United States – 18 Sep 2022
No. 22 Texas (2-1) v. Texas Tech (2-1)
When: September 24, 2022
Game time: 2:30 PM CT
What’s at Stake: In the conference opener, Texas will take on Texas Tech in a battle of two teams looking to prove the hype is real. Tech recorded its first victory over a ranked program since 2019 this season, and Texas is coming off two strong performances, including a come-from-behind victory against UTSA last week. Both teams have fallen to quality opponents, Texas to Alabama and Tech to NC State, so this matchup is a chance for each team to prove that they belong among the Big 12 conference championship contenders.
When the Longhorns have the ball: Texas Tech boasts a defense that has outperformed expectations so far this season, ranking in the top 20 nationally in run defense. Tech has also held its previous six opponents under 30 points. To win against Texas, the Red Raiders will probably have to continue this trend.
Texas will test the Red Raider front with its potent ground game featuring Bijan Robinson and Roschon Johnson. Texas’ inexperienced offensive line has acquitted itself well, opening holes in the run game and doing an admirable job protecting the Longhorn quarterbacks; the game could very well hinge on the matchup in the trenches.
The Texas quarterback situation will remain a mystery right up to kickoff, Quinn Ewers will travel with the team and dress for the game, but Steve Sarkisian will not name a starter until game time.
When Texas Tech has the ball:
So far this season, the Longhorn defense has been vastly improved. They were opportunistic against Louisiana-Monroe, physical against Alabama, and when the game was on the line against UTSA, the Texas defense came through with key stops and a pick-six. In the first three games, the Longhorns have not allowed more than twenty points in a game, and they have shown vast improvement in almost every metric.
Texas will have to begin the game without outside linebacker DeMarvion Overshown, who will miss the first half due to suspension from a targeting call late last week.
Quarterback Donovan Smith will lead the Red Raiders’ attack, and he must perform better against the Longhorns than he did last week if Tech is to upset Texas. Against the best defense he had seen to that point, Smith struggled amidst the pressure NC State brought to bear. Last week Tech committed four turnovers, including three interceptions thrown by Smith. However, the big play potential is still there, as Tech will feature a balanced offense that lists three backs with at least 25 carries and four receivers with double-digit receptions.
Key Horns to Watch: The key matchup will be the Texas running game and Bijan Robinson against the Red Raiders front. Robinson has been the catalyst for the Horns’ offense all season, and getting him loose will be priority one for Texas.
This emphasis on the running game will allow Sarkisian to call play-action shots early; getting Xavier Worthy involved would take advantage of the vulnerable Tech secondary and loosen up the defense against the run.
The Bottom Line: The Texas team we have seen the last two weeks should be able to handle the Red Raiders. Tech is a quality program that will be well coached, but their offense has not clicked yet, and they should not be able to match the firepower that the Longhorns can bring. Look for Texas to outlast the Red Raiders.