116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
LUBBOCK, Texas — Breaking down Saturday’s Big 12 football game between Iowa State (6-3, 4-2) and Texas Tech (5-4, 2-4).
Kickoff is 2:30 p.m. CT (ESPN2).
Iowa State offense
Iowa State’s offense is in a good place as the Cyclones travel to Lubbock.
Breece Hall leads the Big 12 in rushing, Brock Purdy is the most efficient quarterback in the conference and receiver Xavier Hutchinson is tops in receptions.
Part of Iowa State’s efficiency this season can be attributed to Purdy’s willingness to take the check down. Early in his career, he wouldn’t get to that point in his progression. Now, as a senior, if nothing is open down field, he has no problem checking it down to Hall or Jirhel Brock, who often is in on third downs.
Hall has 28 catches for 228 yards and a touchdown. Nearly all of those catches were check downs.
"In the football world I think there's almost a negative connotation with checking the football down,” Iowa State offensive coordinator Tom Manning said. “Really it's really just part of the progression. I think you saw earlier in the year, check the football down for a touchdown. I can count a bunch of ones that he checked the football down and we scored a touchdown on it or got big gains or that's really part of becoming a complete quarterback.”
Texas Tech offense
Texas Tech no longer runs the air-raid offense Mike Leach introduced years ago. Or the offense Kliff Kingsbury and Patrick Mahommes had.
The Red Raiders’ offense has moved to a more steady, ground-based scheme. Texas Tech has three running backs who average at least 4.5 yards per carry and all have at least three touchdowns.
SaRodorick Thompson leads the running back trio with 79 rushes for 374 yards and eight touchdowns.
On the outside, Erik Ezukanma has the ability to take the top off of defenses. The receiver has 40 catches for 631 yards.
Iowa State defense
Will McDonald and Enyi Uwazurike are grabbing the headlines for Iowa State’s defensive line, and for good reason. They’re both top three in the Big 12 in sacks and McDonald has the most sacks of anybody in the FBS over the last two years.
But in recent weeks, nose guard Isaiah Lee has stepped up in an under-the-radar way.
Uwazurike has the ability to play any position along the line and when he’s not lined up at nose guard, Lee is the one to fill in. Lee’s numbers don't jump off the page — he has 11 tackles, 2.5 tackles for loss and three QB hurries. But he’s stout in the middle. Like a Ray Lima-type, he allows the linebackers to come down hill and make the play.
"He's stuck with it,” Iowa State defensive coordinator Jon Heacock said of Lee. “He wasn't looking for the quick fix. He just kept practicing and playing and studying. I think you see it in all sports in different ways. The baseball player goes into a hitting slump. I just think he got himself in a rut. And to his credit, he dug himself out. And man is playing like crazy right now."
Texas Tech defense
Texas Tech’s defense has some good players, but the unit as a whole is not good. It’s the second worst in the Big 12 in front of only Kansas.
The one thing the Red Raiders defense can do at a high level is create turnovers.
Texas Tech has seven interceptions, which is tied for third in the Big 12, and its players have forced seven fumbles. But they’ve only recovered two.
“Almost all these guys have played a lot of football,” Campbell said of Tech’s defense. “They run to the ball, they’re playing physically and they’re creating turnovers.”
Iowa State-Texas Tech prediction
Texas Tech fired head coach Matt Wells in the middle of the season. The Red Raiders have some bad losses and some OK wins. All in all, Campbell has never lost to Texas Tech and that streak shouldn’t stop this weekend.
Iowa State 38, Texas Tech 17