TEXAS TECH VS. IOWA STATE PREVIEW: Freshman QBs battle in Ames

Red Raiders running back Tre King (24) looks for an opening against Iowa State Cyclones strong safety Reggie Wilkerson (3) in the first half at Jones AT&T Stadium.Michael C. Johnson-USA TODAY Sports

Red Raiders put road winning streak on the line.

Texas Tech has won three straight Big 12 road games, dating back to its win over Texas in the regular-season finale in 2017. The Red Raiders try to extend that streak when they play at Iowa State on Saturday.

The Cyclones are a 5.5-point favorite, but it's a toss-up according to ESPN's Matchup Predictor, which gives Texas Tech a 49.5 chance to win.

Here are more particulars:

PLAYERS TO WATCH

WR Antoine Wesley currently ranks third in the country and first in the Big 12 with 858 receiving yards on 50 catches. He made plays for the Red Raiders when fellow WR T.J. Vasher was sidelined with an injury and now that Vasher is apparently back in action, it makes the duo a handful to cover.

K Clayton Hatfield nailed kicks of 48 and 47 yards in the win over Kansas, raising his season numbers to 9 of 10. His bounce back from 2017, when he was injured and made just 6 of 10 attempts, has given Texas Tech confidence in its kicking game again.

LB Kolin Hill had an increased role against Kansas as position-mate Tony Jones was sidelined with a lower leg injury. Hill made the most of it, posting a pair of sacks among four tackles.

CB Adrian Frye has become something the Red Raiders have lacked in the past — a clearly defined best cornerback to assign to an opponent’s best receiver. Frye, a midseason second-team All-American on the Associated Press squad, has 10 pass breakups, 4 interceptions and 12 tackles so far this season.

SERIES HISTORY: Texas Tech leads the all-time series against Iowa State, 11-5. But the Cyclones have dominated the Red Raiders the last two seasons, winning by 56 points in Ames, Iowa, in 2016 and 18 in Lubbock, Texas, last year.

QUOTE TO NOTE: "The similarity is that they take shots with those guys and give them chances to make plays on the football consistently.” Kliff Kingsbury comparing Texas Tech’s and Iowa State’s tall wide receivers.

KEY MATCHUP: Texas Tech QB Alan Bowman vs. Iowa State secondary. Bowman has averaged 412 yards on the four occasions when he played full games. Meanwhile, Iowa State is third in the Big 12 as it has allowed just 229.8 yards passing per game in Big 12 action. So something has to give. Iowa State is second in the Big 12 in rushing yards allowed per conference game, meaning Bowman probably has to find a way to solve the Cyclones’ secondary.

ROSTER REPORT:

--RB Da’Leon Ward has been sidelined most of the season with a groin injury suffered in the Ole Miss game. He played briefly against TCU, but missed the Kansas game. He will be a game-time decision this week versus Iowa State.

--QB Alan Bowman left the West Virginia game late in the first half when he was hit by two Mountaineers in the upper body. Bowman was diagnosed with a partially collapsed lung and admitted to a Lubbock hospital, where he was observed until the following Wednesday. He missed the TCU game, but returned to a starting role against Kansas and led the Red Raiders to a win.

--C Paul Stawarz was in the concussion protocol and missed the TCU game, but returned to action against Kansas.

--DE Tony Jones exited the TCU game with a lower-leg injury and missed the Kansas game. Kingsbury said he expects to have Jones back for the Iowa State game.

--WR T.J. Vasher tweaked a knee against Oklahoma State and missed the West Virginia game, then had a lower-back issue that sidelined him for most of the contest against TCU. But Kingsbury said medical exams of his back and knee didn’t turn up anything, so Vasher played through the pain against Kansas. He caught 5 passes for 79 yards and a TD in the win over the Jayhawks.

--LT Travis Bruffy left the TCU game with an apparent lower leg injury but returned to action against Kansas.

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