Lawrence, KS (SportsNetwork.com) - The 20th-ranked Texas Tech Red Raiders will put their perfect record on the line as they go on the road to challenge the Kansas Jayhawks in a Big 12 Conference duel at Memorial Stadium.
This will be the 15th meeting in history between these schools. The Red Raiders have won 13 of the first 14 encounters to claim a dominant lead in the rivalry. In last year's matchup in Lubbock, the Jayhawks held a 20-0 lead in the second quarter before Texas Tech posted 38 points after halftime to earn a 45-34 decision. Kansas has lost six in a row to Texas Tech.
The Red Raiders have been dominant through the first four games of the Kliff Kingsbury era, winning all four of their games by double-digit margins. TTU had a bye week following its 33-7 rout of Texas State on Sept. 21. It is tied atop the conference standings thanks to its 20-10 victory over TCU in its Big 12 opener. The Red Raiders have not been 5-0 overall since the 2008 season. This will be their first game of the 2013 outside of the Lone Star State.
Kingsbury is very familiar with his counterpart this week. Jayhawks coach Charlie Weiss was the offensive coordinator for the New England Patriots during Kingsbury's stint with the AFC East powerhouse.
"The first thing that jumps out is his work ethic. He'd spend the night up at the office and was up there at all hours," said Kingsbury on Weiss. "Obviously, a great quarterback mentor having worked with Tom Brady, always had great game plans. I thought he was one of the best game planners I've ever been around on a week-to-week basis. Learned a lot of X's and O's, and it was a really positive experience up there."
Kansas will be making its Big 12 debut after a 13-10 win over Louisiana Tech at home last week. The Jayhawks began their season with a rout of FCS foe South Dakota, but dropped a 23-14 decision to Rice in Houston the following week. The victory over the Bulldogs ended a 21-game losing streak against FBS opponents. Winning back-to-back games will be difficult for Kansas, which went 0-9 in Big 12 play in 2012.
Kingsbury has been able to lead his alma mater to four consecutive wins despite not having presumed starting quarterback Michael Brewer since early August due to a back injury. TTU has survived with true freshmen quarterbacks Baker Mayfield and Davis Webb under center, with the walk-on Mayfield starting each game. Webb led the team against TSU with 310 yards and two touchdowns on 19-of-43 efficiency. Webb was also picked off twice while Mayfield went 14- of-20 for 124 yards. The walk-on will keep his starting job for at least one more week with Brewer not yet cleared for his return.
" We're 4-0 with (Mayfield) as a starter, and that's really where we're at. So we'll let him cut it loose and see," said Kingsbury. "I think he's healthy for the first time in about three weeks, completely healthy, and has looked really sharp in practice. The last week he wasn't very healthy, and I think it showed. So I'm excited to see him healthy again, and we'll see what he can do."
TTU has amassed 2,080 yards on offense, posting an average 38.8 points through its first four games. The rookie signal callers have helped the Red Raiders to the second-best aerial attack in the Big 12 at 408.5 passing yards per game. Whichever passer is in the pocket for TTU they will be looking towards Jace Amaro, who leads the team with 29 receptions and 367 yards. Eric Ward, Jakeem Grant and Brad Marquez all have made 17 catches or more and average over 50 yards per game.
While TTU has little trouble moving the ball through the air, it has seen very little success in its running game. Quinton White has been a bright spot with 105 yards on just nine carries. He is the team's leading rusher despite carrying the ball 21 less times than DeAndre Washington (3.4 ypc) and 20 fewer than Kenny Williams (2.6 ypc).
The Red Raiders have been just as impressive on the defensive side of the ball under Kingsbury, allowing only 13.2 points and 371.8 yards of total offense per game. TSU could not get anything going against them in their last outing as the Bobcats amassed only 240 total yards. TSU went 5-of-16 on third-down conversion chances and failed to produce points on both of its red zone trips. Will Smith and Tre' Porter are the team's leading tacklers with 26 and 25 total stops each, respectively.
TTU's defensive unit will present problems for Kansas, which is ranked last in the conference in scoring (19.3 ppg) and just one spot higher in total offense (352 ypg). The Jayhawks were stifled for the most part of their bout with Louisiana Tech, which entered the game surrendering 28.3 ppg. They were held to only three points through the first 50 minutes and tallied just 396 total yards in the contest. Weiss's offense stepped up when it mattered most as Jake Heaps completed a 22-yard touchdown pass to Jimmay Mundine that concluded an eight-play, 80-yard drive and tied the score with just under 10 minutes left to play.
Heaps led the offense down the field again in the final stages of the non- conference tilt to put Matthew Wyman in position for a game-winning 52-yard field goal as time expired. Heaps finished with 279 yards and two interceptions on 28-of-46 passing efficiency. Tony Pierson recorded nine catches for 82 yards.
The centerpiece of the Jayhawks' attack will be looking to get back on track after a below average showing by his standards last week. Running back James Sims was held to 78 yards on 20 carries (3.8 ypc) by Louisiana Tech. The senior halfback is the second leading rusher in the Big 12 with an average of 93.7 ypg. His 18.3 attempts per game is the highest of any player in the league.
Kansas's defense has been average overall, which is not a good sign considering the level of its competition. The Jayhawks had a strong finish to their last outing as the five of the Bulldogs' final seven drives ended with a punt and the other two ended due to lost fumbles. Louisiana Tech had broken into the red zone with under two minutes remaining before Michael Reynolds jarred the ball loose from Kenneth Dixon. Keon Stowers fell on the loose ball to set up the game-winning drive. Ben Heeney is the leader of the defense with 32 total tackles including four tackles for loss.