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Texas will be taking on their in-state rival Texas Tech this weekend, and are looking to extend their current win streak to four consecutive wins.
The Red Raiders have gotten off to a hot start winning their first three matchups, and are hoping that Oregon quarterback transfer Tyler Shough can continue to find his groove. On the other hand, the Longhorns are looking to establish some consistency in their play, as they are in dire need of following up a solid performance against Rice with another one against a conference opponent.
This is the first Big 12 game of the season for Texas, and they are in what can be considered the beginning of the gauntlet on their schedule.
The team looked exceptional last week, but that was expected, as they were playing a very inferior Rice team. Texas Tech is a team that the Longhorns can and should beat, but they are team of quick explosions. The Red Raiders have gotten off to slow starts in all three of their games, but would eventually have an explosive quarter where they separated from their opponent, such as the second quarter against FIU when they scored 28 points.
This means if the Texas defense is unable to stop Texas Tech from scoring, the offense, now led by Casey Thompson, needs to be able to counter every score with a touchdown of their own. This game will be a good gauge of where Pete Kwiatkowski’s defense is, as Texas Tech has a very balanced offense and can hurt defenses with both the passing and ground game.
Considering all the factors mentioned, it is now time to be bold. Here are my weekly bold predictions for Texas’ Week 4 matchup against Texas Tech.
Texas will have at least 150 yards rushing
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The run game has been the most consistent part of the Longhorn offense, largely in part thanks to the fact that Bijan Robinson has the innate ability to make plays regardless of whether the offensive line can actually block or not. The Red Raider defense has actually been phenomenal against the run through their first three games, only giving up an average of 54.7 yards on the ground per game. I think Sarkisian realizes that as of right now, the Texas offense is at its best when Robinson or one of the other talented running backs have the ball in their hand. Texas is currently averaging 245 rushing yards per game, and going up against an opponent with a stout run defense will be a great test for the Longhorns offensive line.
The Texas defense will force two turnovers
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The Longhorns defense has not produced as many turnovers as I thought they would have, as they currently are averaging one per game with two of them being fumble recoveries. This game has all the inklings of one where the defense is able to force at least two. The Red Raiders are averaging two giveaways per game, as they have had at least one fumble per game, and Tyler Shough has been asked to throw the ball frequently, throwing an average of 27 times per game. This likely comes down to the pressure that the front seven gets on Shough, as obviously a quarterback with plenty of time is less likely to make a mistake. The thing that does work in the favor of the Longhorns, is Shough is the first non dual-threat quarterback they have played this season. He only has 15 rushes in three games, and has only accounted for eight yards, meaning he truly wants to throw the ball rather than take off which should give defensive backs some opportunity to capitalize on forced throws.
Casey Thompson throws four touchdown passes
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It has become more and more evident that the offense just moves better with Casey Thompson at quarterback. He has been able to make plays with his feet, and connect on more throws than Hudson Card. In the win against Rice, Texas relied very heavily on the ground game, which worked to perfection. It was also against a very poor defense, that the Longhorns should have had no issues moving the ball against. Given that the Red Raiders run defense is so stingy, they very well might stack the box and force Thompson and the offense to beat them through the air. It is a bold strategy, considering Thompson has shown the ability to direct defenses easily, but nonetheless I expect Thompson to show off this game.
Cameron Dicker makes 100% of his kicks
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Never thought I'd be making bold predictions about a kicker, but Cameron Dicker is a special exception. He has arguably been one of, if not the worst kickers in the nation in this young season. He is currently sitting at 33% on the year, and has been as unreliable as they come. For his career, he is 62% from 40-49 yards and 42% from 50 yards and beyond, showing that anything beyond 39 yards is a toss up at best. Any time that a team gets in scoring position it is vital to know that your kicker can finish the job, should they be called upon. Dicker has yet to show that, but in the name of bold predictions, I'm calling for a perfect day from him, otherwise it may no longer be his job after Saturday.
Ovie Oghoufo will record two sacks
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After generating the least amount of hype out of all the transfers on defense Texas brought in, Ovie Oghoufo has been the best pass rusher on the team. He currently leads the team in sacks with two on the year, and Texas Tech has yet to face a pass rusher as persistent and savy as him. Through their first three games, the Red Raiders have only given up three sacks, all of which came against Houston. With Tyler Shough being a true pocket passer who will throw the ball no matter what, this can lead to him holding on to the ball longer than he should. The Texas defense badly needs Oghoufo to fill the void of Joseph Ossai, and so far he has done a very good job. A breakout game this week would be huge for the defense and Oghoufo.