Can Red Raider defense slow down Kyler Murray?

Red Raiders linebacker Dakota Allen (40) tackles Iowa State Cyclones running back David Montgomery (32) at Jack Trice Stadium.Reese Strickland-USA TODAY Sports

OU vs. Texas Tech will be touted as a shootout, but Dakota Allen and Co. have a chance to shine.

Texas Tech’s schedule so far this season has had its share of hard-hitting one-two punches.

The Red Raiders hosted Houston one week and hit the road for then-No. 15 Oklahoma State the next. They lost at home against West Virginia, then traveled to TCU, where the Red Raiders won the road game with their backup quarterback.

Now Texas Tech (5-3, 3-2 Big 12) has to rebound from a loss at upstart Iowa State by hosting seventh-ranked Oklahoma.

The Sooners are a double-digit favorite despite playing on the Red Raiders’ home field on Saturday night.

Two years ago, quarterback Baker Mayfield led Oklahoma to a 66-59 victory over Texas Tech in Lubbock. And anyone looking at this one has to think the Red Raiders will struggle to stop the Sooners new QB, Kyler Murray.

Red Raiders coach Kliff Kingsbury recruited Murray, trying to woo him to both Texas A&M and then Texas Tech. Murray eventually signed with Kevin Sumlin’s staff at Texas A&M and then bolted after his freshman season.

“I’ve watched (Murray) from sophomore in high school on and I’ve never seen him have a bad game,” Kingsbury said. “Always poised, always in control.”

Murray is probably the best quarterback Texas Tech has faced this season. However, the Red Raiders have seen their share of prolific passers. Ole Miss’s Jordan Ta’amu and Houston’s D’Eriq King rank second and fourth respectively in total offense in the country and West Virginia’s Will Grier is 11th. Iowa State’s Brock Purdy (296 yards per game in three contests) would rank 16th if he had played enough games to qualify.

Even having played that gauntlet of QBs, Texas Tech has shown improvement on defense. The Red Raiders rank 94th nationally in total defense at 424 yards allowed per game, but that’s an improvement for a defense that has ranked in triple digits for a long time.

Sooners coach Lincoln Riley can see the difference.

“Defensively, they’ve made a big jump,” Riley said. “There’s no question when you turn on the film. This group is playing well together. The thing that you see is it’s a lot of the same names and same people that we’ve been playing against now for two or three years and these guys have gotten better.”

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