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Oklahoma Football: Previewing The Sooners And Texas Tech

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NORMAN, Oklahoma -

Saturday, Texas Tech, the No. 10 team in the country, strolls into Norman to put its undefeated record on the line against No. 17 Oklahoma.

The Red Raiders are enjoying a resurgence under Lubbock's favorite son, Kliff Kingsbury. Not only has Kingsbury turned the Red Raiders back into a successful team on the field, but also has injected new life into the program as a whole. There's electricity in the air in Lubbock that hasn't been there since 2008, when the Red Raiders got as high as No. 2 in the polls before getting blown out in Norman. Kingsbury may be young for a head coach, but he knows the culture at Tech and was the perfect fit for the job.

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Overall, the Red Raiders and Sooners have a puzzling series history. Even though the Sooners have easily been the better program, the two teams have actually split the past eight meetings. Before last season's win in Lubbock, OU had lost three straight games on the road dating back to 2003, its last win in Lubbock.

Meanwhile, no OU fan is going to forget what happened the last time Texas Tech came to Norman. The Red Raiders stunned Oklahoma in 2011; ending the Sooners' 39-game home winning streak and derailing the Sooners' national championship hopes.

Kingsbury beat the Sooners in 1999 in his first career start, and he'd love to do it again. This is easily the best team the Red Raiders have faced this season, but it's also arguably the best team the Sooners have faced as well. Given the series history in the past decade, anything can happen on Saturday, so it should be a fun game in Norman.

Three questions for Oklahoma:

1. Can the Oklahoma defense continue its solid play against a great offense?

The Sooners are currently ranked No. 9 in the nation in total defense and in scoring defense. However, this will the first good offense the Sooners have faced all season. The Red Raiders are sixth in the nation in total offense, averaging 548.1 yards per game, par for the course for a Texas Tech offense. Tech does most of its damage through the air, averaging 416.4 yards to just 131.7 on the ground. Luckily for the Sooners, that's the strength of the defense. OU is first in the nation in passing defense, allowing just 149.7 yards per game. It's a strength vs. strength battle that someone has to win.

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2. How will Blake Bell perform?

Bell was better against Kansas than he was against Texas, but he still wasn't great. He made several impressive throws, but also made some questionable decisions and threw a terrible interception. He ran the ball well when his number was called, and that seemed to give him a bit of confidence. It's pretty clear Bell is not a pure pocket passer and doesn't appear comfortable when he's asked to do that. Bell is still learning, but he might want to pick up the pace. The Sooners need the offense to produce to keep up with the Red Raiders and Baylor in two weeks.

3. Will the crowd bring it like 2008?

Bob Stoops called out the OU crowd before No. 2 Texas Tech came to town in 2008 and the fans responded. Stoops didn't call out the crowd this week, but did say it'd be nice to have the same atmosphere on Saturday. No controversy here. However, the memories of that night in 2008 still remain the minds of OU fans. The Sooners aren't unbeatable in Norman, but it's certainly not an easy place to play, especially when the crowd really gets into it. With the Red Raiders ranked No. 10 and the Sooners looking for a big win on the national stage, OU fans should be at full throat on Saturday.

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Three key players for Texas Tech:

1. Jace Amaro, tight end- 56 receptions, 742 yards, three touchdowns

It's a travesty Amaro isn't on the Mackey Award watch list. FOX Sports Southwest's David Ubben reported Wednesday Tommy Tuberville's staff told the award committee Amaro should be considered a wide receiver, and the committee didn't reclassify him in 2013. It's a shame, because Amaro's stats are far and away the best in the country. Amaro moves like a receiver, but is built like a tight end. He's a tough cover for anyone, so the Sooners will have to account for him in multiple ways.

2. Davis Webb, quarterback- 107-176-5, 1,427 passing yards, 11 touchdowns

Thanks to a combination of injuries and consistent performances, Webb has taken over the starting job from opening day starter Baker Mayfield. There hasn't been any drop off in production, as Webb threw for 462 yards and two scores last week at West Virginia. Webb is a true freshman and is a work in progress, prone to freshman mistakes if pressured. OU will have to do that to rattle the young quarterback.

3. Kerry Hyder, defensive tackle- 33 tackles, 10 tackles for loss, two sacks

Hyder, a preseason All-Big 12 team member, has not disappointed so far in his senior season. His 10 tackles for loss lead the team by a wide margin and he's been a force in the middle clogging opponent running lanes. He's fourth on the team with 33 tackles, a big number for a defensive tackle. The Sooners did a great job of neutralizing Notre Dame nose tackle Louis Nix, so they're certainly up to the task of taking care of Hyder. They have different styles, but the OU offensive line still has the skill necessary to take care of him.

Key matchup: Oklahoma secondary vs. Texas Tech passing game

As noted above, this is strength vs. strength for these two teams. Texas Tech chucks the ball all over the field, while the Sooners have been the best in the country at preventing teams from throwing the ball. The good thing for the Sooners is that the Red Raiders don't have a great run game as they have had in the past. Oklahoma should be able to control the run game and force Davis Webb to make some freshman mistakes. OU isn't going to hold Tech to 150 yards through the air—which is the Sooners' defense average this season—but if they can make sure Tech doesn't run the ball well (a tough task considering the Sooners' struggles without Corey Nelson and Jordan Phillips), the secondary is good enough to limit the Red Raiders' downfield attempts.

Prediction: Texas Tech 27, Oklahoma 20

I think the OU defense gives the offense every opportunity to win, but the Sooners' offense isn't built for scoring lots of points and it costs them in this one.

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