GAME PREVIEW: WVU Hosts Ranked TTU on Homecoming

By Ryan Decker

A pair of high-powered offenses converge at Milan Puskar Stadium Saturday as West Virginia (3-2) hosts No. 24 Texas Tech.

The Raiders have the highest scoring offense in the Big 12 and one of the most prolific passing games, as well.

It’s the second-straight ranked opponent, and third overall this year, facing the Mountaineers.

“Texas Tech is playing good. They’re playing probably as good or better than we’ve seen since the first year we played them,” WVU head coach Dana Holgorsen said on Tuesday. “We’ve got our work cut out for us. But I know our guys are going to be ready to roll.”

Playing in front of what has already been deemed to be a sellout crowd, West Virginia will try to stop its stretch of misfortune against ranked teams. WVU has fallen in each of its last nine games against Top 25 teams, having not defeated a ranked opponent since it defeated Baylor in 2014.

The Red Raiders offense hasn’t missed a step under first-year-starting quarterback Nic Shimonek, who ranks second in the Big 12 in passing yards.

TTU is a team that likes to spread the ball around. Kliff Kingsbury has five receivers with at least 10 catches this year, whereas Holgorsen’s offense has just five wideouts with at least five catches.

Keke Coutee is Texas Tech’s leading receiver. He’s hauled in 39 catches for nearly 600 yards.

Justin Stockton is TTU’s top rushing option for a ground game that has improved over year’s past but still ranks towards the bottom of the conference.

On the other hand, West Virginia’s running game, led by Justin Crawford who’s eclipsed 100 yards on the ground each game this season, remains second best in the Big 12.

Will Grier continues to be one of the best passers in the Big 12, only trailing Shimonek and Oklahoma State’s Mason Rudolph in terms of passing yards, and he ranks first in the nation when it comes to passing yards on passes over 20 yards.

This is all while having a wide receiving corps that’s struggling with depth.

“Depth is still an issue,” Holgorsen said. “It was addressed after the game.” He continued to say, “It needs to happen now.”

West Virginia receivers may have a chance to have a big day on Saturday based on the coverages that the Texas Tech defense likes to use.

“This year they’re turning into a lot of one-on-one battles,” offensive coordinator Jake Spavital said. “We’ve got a big challenge ahead of us in terms of how they’re playing defense.”

Texas Tech ranks ninth in the Big 12 in pass defense.

Kickoff for Saturday’s game is scheduled for noon. It’s a ‘Stripe the Stadium’ game, meaning fans are encouraged to wear either gold or blue, depending on their section.

Fans can listen to pregame coverage on starting at 9 a.m.

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