The Texas Longhorns head north to the panhandle this weekend to open Big 12 play against the Texas Tech Red Raiders at Jones AT&T Stadium in Lubbock. Steve Sarkisian got the better of the Red Raiders last season in Austin, winning 70-35 in front of a home crowd at DKR. The Longhorns can expect a rowdy group in the stands on Saturday as first year Texas Tech head coach Joey McGuire hopes to put an end to Texas' six game win streak in Lubbock that dates back to 2010.
Texas Tech brings a revamped defense that is comprised of primarily seniors into the matchup and it will be interesting to see how the Texas offense fares against them. The Red Raider offense is no slouch either. Led by quarterback Donovan Smith who took over the job following Tyler Shough's injury, the Tech offense is averaging 475.3 yards per game.
Lubbock is a hostile environment anytime the Longhorns come to town and with injured starting and backup quarterbacks, will Sark and staff dial up a game plan that beats Texas Tech for the fifth straight time?
Our staff weighs in with thoughts and score projections.
Ryan Swantkowski (2-0)
The time has come for the Longhorns to start Big 12 play for the 2022 season. Playing in Lubbock is always a tough environment, and the fact that it's the Longhorns' first away game of the year adds to the fire. Texas Tech QB Donovan Smith struggled last week in the Red Raiders' 14-27 loss to NC State but has the ability to throw the deep ball accurately while being able to tuck and run as well. The Red Raiders are tied 6th in the nation with 9 passing plays of 30 plus yards. The QB situation for Texas is clearer than last week yet still remains somewhat murky with Quinn Ewers potentially being healthy for game day. Regardless, I predict Hudson Card to get his second straight start. Expect a similar game plan to last week against UTSA for Card, but don't be surprised to see him take a few more shots downfield as the Tech defensive line has been strong against the run this season. All this being said, the Red Raiders haven't beaten the Horns in Lubbock since 2008, and I don't expect that to change this weekend.
Score Prediction: Texas 34, Red Raiders 24
Devon Messinger (3-0)
On Saturday, the Longhorns will travel to Lubbock for possibly the last time thanks to their pending SEC move. However, before they return home, they must first be able to handle the Texas Tech road environment, most likely without QB1.
In Texas's Big 12 Conference opener, the quarterback position will be the X-factor. If Card is indeed rolled out for another weekend, can he connect on the deep ball and remain efficient? Conversely, can the Longhorns capitalize on Texas Tech quarterback Donovan Smith's inefficiencies thus far this season? The sophomore Red Raider quarterback has already thrown for seven touchdowns, however he has also tallied 5 interceptions as well.
Despite the many question marks at quarterback, if Bijan Robinson and Roschon Johnson have performances similar to that against UTSA, Texas will be in a good position to run away with a road victory.
Score Prediction: Texas 41, Red Raiders 27
Jameson McCausland (3-0)
It's hard to believe Texas has won 6 straight games in Lubbock despite all of the ups and downs the Longhorns have had over the last 12 years. It is certainly a tough place to play, but Texas has had far worse teams than this one come out with a victory.
Joey McGuire seems to have things moving in the right direction early in his tenure, but the roster is still littered with players who got smacked in Austin 70-35 in 2021. We will see if that adds some extra motivation.
For Texas, this game is about taking care of the football and not beating themselves. The Red Raiders have shown this year that they will shoot themselves in the foot if given the opportunity, so if the Longhorns play a relatively clean game they should start conference play 1-0.
Crazy things happen in Lubbock, but I'll take Texas in a close one.
Score Prediction: Texas 35, Red Raiders 28
Aaron Carrara (3-0)
This is always a road game that makes Texas fans a little uneasy, but the Longhorns boast an undefeated record in Lubbock over the last decade. The 'Horns will open conference play against the Red Raiders with dinged up quarterbacks in Quinn Ewers and Hudson Card, while missing their best linebacker (Overshown) for the first half of the game. Not ideal but I expect Card to start and manage the offense will taking more shots downfield than he did last weekend.
Give Texas Tech some credit for a much-improved defense - particularly in stopping the run. Defensive Coordinator Tim DeRuyter's unit allows just over 82 yards on the ground per game and Bijan Robinson, Roschon Johnson and the other horses in the Texas backfield must break that stat if Texas wants to leave Lubbock with a win. Red Raider quarterback Donovan Smith is very capable of making plays with his arm and legs, but has thrown 5 interceptions in his last two games. Pete Kwiatkowski will dial the pressure on Smith in hopes of forcing him to make mistakes which result in turnovers.
I think this game is closer than most project it to be but Texas still wins a close one.
Score Prediction: Texas 41, Red Raiders 38
The comeback win against UTSA was likely a necessary evil for a team beginning conference play with their first road trip of the season. They will need that focus for any early adversity along with some trickery from Joey McGuire’s first-year staff. Jones AT&T Stadium is unsurprisingly a sellout, but this one doesn’t have that usual feel of a dangerous game as long as the good guys keep taking care of the ball and the defense continues to show it’s much-improved compared to last year’s unit. I still question the strength of Texas’ passing defense, but Tech QB Donovan Smith is green with his decision-making and can get quite antsy when pressured. I can see this match-up going the way of last weekend where the Horns survive an early surge, and the more talented team wears their opponent down. Since the turn of the century, Texas has won 18 of 22 in this rivalry and hasn’t lost in Lubbock since the infamous Crabtree catch in ’08. I like that positive trend to continue on Saturday afternoon no matter who Sarkisian starts at QB.
Score Prediction: Texas 38, Red Raiders 24
Mitch Lovell (3-0)
Another big game for Bijan Robinson and Hudson Card likely gets the start for Texas. Card is finally able to connect with Xavier Worthy on the deep ball several times in a hostile Texas Tech environment, which will serve as a good test for a Texas team that struggled on the road last year. The Red Raiders are a much better coached team and will test Sarkisian and the Longhorns, but it is not enough to pull off the win in front of the home crowd.
Score Prediction: Texas 38, Red Raiders 21