Sooners seek to extend perfect November record under Riley

November 1, 2018 ▪ By Ray Dozier

As the calendar rolls into November, Kliff Kingsbury’s Texas Tech Red Raiders roll over and nearly play dead. In games leading up to November, Tech has gone 23-18 in Kingsbury’s first six seasons. That figure plummets to 6-14 during the 11th month. This year, the Red Raiders are 5-3, and November couldn’t begin any scarier with the Oklahoma Sooners rolling into Lubbock for a prime time (7 p.m.) matchup on ABC.

Kingsbury has met the Sooners only once in November, and OU won, 42-30, in Lubbock in 2014.

Ever since Lincoln Riley came aboard the OU coaching staff in 2015, the Sooners are perfect in November (11-0). No. 7 Oklahoma hopes to make it an even dozen when it brings the nation’s fourth-best offense to Jones AT&T Stadium. The Sooners rank fourth in scoring (48.9 ppg) and total offense (548.3 ypg), but they lead the country in hammering out 8.9 yards per play.

Kyler Murray is leading Oklahoma to a 7-1 (4-1 Big 12 record) with a 227.3 quarterback rating. Baker Mayfield finished 2017 with a 198.9 rating, but 206.6 in three games against the Raiders. Murray has completed 73.2 percent of his passes for 2,329 yards with 28 TDs and 3 INTs. Mayfield won the Heisman Trophy last year, and Murray is pushing to bring another trophy to Norman.

His counterpart at Texas Tech is Alan Bowman, a freshman sensation who has completed 68.4 percent for 2,411 yards with 15 TDs and 7 INTs. Bowman’s favorite targets are Antoine Wesley (68 catches for 977 yards and 7 TDs) and Ja’Deion High (46-608, 3 TDs). Wesley ranks second nationally with 122.1 yards per game.

The Raiders rank third in passing offense (376.8 ypg), but 85th (151.5) in running the ball. Freshman Ta’Zhawn Henry is the team’s leading rusher with 346 yards (4.8-yard average) and 8 touchdowns. Tech’s offense ranks 10th with an average of 42.3 points per game. The defense is No.70 in points (28.1) allowed per game.

The Raiders are 92nd in total defense yielding 423.8 yards per outing. Linebacker Dakota Allen leads the squad with 68 tackles, including 6.5 behind the line, 5 QB hurries, and he’s recovered two fumbles. End Tony Jones leads the Raiders with 7 stops for loss, including 4 sacks, 4 QB hurries and a fumble recovery. Cornerback Adrian Frye has intercepted four passes and broken up 11 of them.

Tech lost to Iowa State, 40-31, last weekend. Bowman 32 of 56 for 323 yards but the Cyclones picked off three of his passes, one for a touchdown. The Raiders blew a 10-0 lead, and their offense managed only 17 points as Tech scored on a blocked punt and a fumble recovery in the end zone. Both teams battled to a 31-31 tie early in the fourth quarter, but ISU scored a safety and touchdown down the stretch.

The Sooners easily dispatched Kansas state, 51-14, last Saturday. OU recorded a season-high 702 yards and scored on its first nine possessions. Murray completed 19 of 24 for 352 yards and 3 TDs. A dozen players caught the pigskin, and Cee Dee Lamb hauled in four for 160 yards and a couple of scores.

Oklahoma rolled up 322 rushing yards, and Kennedy Brooks led the way with 95 yards on five carries and 2 TDs. Linebackers Curtis Bolton and Kenneth Murray leach logged 7 tackles, and freshman end Jalen Redmond made 2.5 stops behind the line. The defense held the Wildcats to 245 yards. The defense has allowed an average of 20.5 points per game, a drop of nearly a touchdown per contest. The D also has given up an average of 260 yards, 161 less than the first half of the season.

Two years ago, both teams played a game for the ages, with the Sooners coming out on top, 66- 59. Each team amassed 854 total yards. OU led, 30-24, at halftime and scored first in the third quarter and then the Raiders matched Oklahoma touchdown for touchdown and trailed by seven with 1:38 to go. The Sooner recovered Tech’s onside kick and held on for the win. The Sooners won handily, 49-27, last year in Norman. Mayfield threw for four touchdowns and ran for another. Lamb caught 9 passes for 147 yards and a pair of TDs. Rodney Anderson rushed for 181 yards and a score.

The Red Raiders have a better offense than TCU and K-State, OU’s last two foes. Oklahoma’s defense must not allow Bowman time to find his receivers. Wesley and tight end Donta Thompson are 6-foot-5, and receiver T.J. Vasher is 6-6. Safety Robert Barnes is the tallest Sooner in the secondary at 6-2. The Sooners have not had an easy time defending and tackling taller receivers. Iowa State’s Hakeem Butler (6-6) grabbed 5 passes for 174 yards and two scores against the Sooners. Baylor’s Denzel Mims (6-3) and Jalen Hurd (6-4) combined for 20 receptions for 218 yards and 2 TDs. Texas’ Lil’Jordan Humphrey (6-4) and Collin Johnson (6-6) combined for caught 15 passes for 214 yards and 2 TDs.

Texas Tech University has called for a blackout for Saturday night, and the Raiders have won five straight blackout games over ranked opponents since 2007. The Raider fans will be raucous, so the Sooners must jump to a big lead early to take the starch out of their enthusiasm. They cannot afford Tech to match them score for score.

This game has all the makings of another shootout, and the Raiders won’t be able to match the Sooners’ firepower. OU can make Tech one dimensional, but the Raiders can’t force Oklahoma into one dimension. Murray is a playmaker who can beat you with his arm and legs. The Sooners’ offense keeps improving each week with a stronger running game to compliment the pass.

Sooners 49, Red Raiders 35.

Fast Facts

  • OU leads the series 19-6 including six straight wins.
  • OU leads 7-4 in Lubbock, including three straight wins.
  • OU is favored by 13.5.
  • Lincoln Riley is 19-3 (.864) overall; 1-0 vs. TTU; 7-0 on the road; 12-2 vs. conference opponents; 15-1 vs. unranked foes.
  • Kliff Kingsbury is 35-36 (.493) overall; 0-5 vs. OU; 18-16 at home; 19-31 vs. Big 12 foes; 3-20 vs. ranked opponents.
  • Kingsbury has never beaten a Top 10 ranked team (0-6).
  • OU is 13-3 in games played on November 3.
  • TTU is 5-6-1 in games played on November 3.

Articles by Ray Dozier