Texas State has quite the task Saturday night in Lubbock.
It’s going to take a gargantuan effort for the Bobcats, as 27-point underdogs, to do what many feel is impossible and beat Texas Tech in front of a sold-out crowd inside Jones AT&T Stadium. Texas State lost the last two meetings by an average of 44 points — which includes a 58-10 loss last year — and the Red Raiders are ranked 25th in the nation according to the latest Associated Press Top 25.
Here are three matchups the Bobcats must win to have a chance.
1. Adrian Bellard/Ryan Melton vs. Kerry Hyder
Reason — As a 6-foot-2, 280-pound defensive end, Hyder is a force on the defensive line for Texas Tech. Bellard (6-5, 346) and Melton (6-5, 339) aren’t small guys either. Texas State must control the clock in order to win, so Bellard and Melton need to be able to knock Hyder off the line of scrimmage. If Hyder consistently gets in the backfield, it’s going to be a long night for the Bobcats. Bellard and Melton must seal off the edge and give Chris Nutall and Terrence Franks room to work.
2. Michael Orakpo vs. Le’Raven Clark
Reason — TCU designed a perfect blueprint to slow down the Red Raiders: Get pressure on Baker Mayfield and make him look like a freshman. Through the first two games, no one from Texas State has pressured the opposing quarterback more than Orakpo, brother of two-time NFL Pro Bowl selection and Washington Redskins linebacker Brian Orakpo. During the bye week, the brothers spoke about studying opposing tackles. “My brother really taught me how to study the tackles and how to beat them,” the younger Orakpo said. “If my first move doesn’t work, he told me to work on the counter.” Plus, the family has some history with Texas Tech. “I’ll never forget Texas Tech in 2008 when they kept my brother from playing in the national championship,” the younger Orakpo said. “It was horrible. I feel like I owe them one.”
3. Texas State’s offense vs. Jones AT&T Stadium
Reason — It’s going to be loud inside a sold-out Jones AT&T Stadium. More than 60,000 fans, clad in white, are expected to file through the turnstiles to watch Saturday’s game. Fans of the Red Raiders are known to be some of the most-hostile supporters in college football. Texas State’s offense must tune out the crowd and score early and often to take them out of the game. Then it will be up to the Bobcat defense to keep Texas Tech’s offense from reaching the end zone, which is a chore in itself.