Texas-Texas Tech Preview
By NOEY KUPCHAN
(AP) -- While Texas Tech hasn't experienced much success against Texas over the years, Seth Doege and the Red Raiders could make things difficult on the Longhorns this time around.
Hoping to avoid a fourth straight loss in this series, No. 20 Texas Tech tries to bring home the Chancellor's Spurs as it hosts in-state rival Texas on Saturday afternoon.
The Red Raiders (6-2, 3-2 Big 12) have dropped 11 of 13 matchups against the Longhorns (6-2, 3-2) - the last three by a 110-58 margin. Texas Tech, though, enters this one as a rare favorite.
"We're going to approach Saturday the same way whether we're the underdog or if we were picked to win," said Doege, who threw for 381 yards and two touchdowns during last season's 52-20 loss at Texas.
"It will be a huge game for us. I know the guys are excited just as I am. It's a rival game and something that I think any time you come to Texas Tech, that is the one you circle. No matter how good or how bad you're doing that season, that's something you're excited for, regardless."
The Red Raiders seem to be extra motivated after coming up short at then-No. 4 Kansas State last Saturday. Doege completed 35 of 50 passes for 331 yards with two TDs and an interception for Texas Tech, which was outscored 42-14 in the second half of a 55-24 defeat.
"I think there is a little fire burning inside of us after what happened (last) Saturday because that was such a great opportunity for us," Doege said. "We were so prepared... I don't think anybody saw that coming. It was just a couple of turnovers that at the time kind of put us in a bind.
"So we feel like we still need to play with the edge, and feel like we need - every weekend, we need to prove ourselves that we're a top-notch program and a top-notch football team, and that's the way we want to play this Saturday."
The Red Raiders now try to add to the Longhorns' recent woes against ranked opponents. Texas has been outscored by an average of 17.2 points during a nine-game skid against such foes, including a 48-45 loss to then-No. 8 West Virginia on Oct. 6 and a 63-21 defeat to then-No. 13 Oklahoma the following weekend.
The Longhorns, however, have proven plenty formidable on the road, winning all three games following last Saturday's 21-17 victory at Kansas.
Freshman Johnathan Gray ran for a season-high 111 yards while backup Case McCoy replaced a struggling David Ash, throwing a game-winning, one-yard TD pass to D.J. Grant with 12 seconds remaining.
Despite McCoy's late-game heroics, coach Mack Brown still appears committed to Ash going forward. The sophomore, who completed 8 of 16 passes for a season-low 63 yards with two interceptions against the Jayhawks, will start Saturday.
"David has done a great job," Brown said. "We're lucky to have two (quarterbacks). That's what we fought for in the competition in the spring and summer. We wanted to know we would have two guys.
"The offense was not in sync (last Saturday). When it's not, you have got to change something... we feel like Case is the guy we can use when needed."
Gray, meanwhile, will surely be looking to leave his mark against the Red Raiders, with whom his dad James Gray compiled 4,066 rushing yards - the second-most in school history - from 1986-89.
"This will be a big game for him since his dad was a great running back out at Texas Tech," Brown said.
"Johnathan is really tough. He is so mature for a freshman. Knock on wood, he's had good ball security... He's very mature, very tough. He's got good ball security. He can catch. He's learning his pass protections better. That allows him to play more."
Gray could find plenty of running room against a Texas Tech defense that's surrendered 377 yards on the ground in its last two games.
The Longhorns have been shredded for a league-worst 218.0 rushing yards per contest.
Updated October 31, 2012