No. 3 Oklahoma and No. 8 Texas are the top two teams in the Big 12 and enter as heavy betting favorites in their respective games as conference play begins Saturday. Oddsmakers specifically have set a line at just around three touchdowns for the favored Longhorns, who head on the road for the first time in 2020 to face Texas Tech in Lubbock, Texas.
This would seem like a favorable matchup for Texas. Quarterback Sam Ehlinger could have thrown for 800 yards against UTEP if he wanted and Texas Tech’s pass defense looks porous. The Longhorns enjoy a bevy of weapons around Ehlinger, too, in both the run and pass games. Put simply, Texas is loaded on offense and the defense is talented enough to make this a complete team worthy of a Big 12 Championship Game run. Meanwhile, Texas Tech is trying to build something positive coming off of a 4-8 season in coach Matt Wells’ debut.
On paper, Texas should be able to handle its business before diving into a tougher stretch of schedule in the coming weeks. Then again, nothing in this pandemic year is 100% certain. Let’s unpack the storylines for this Saturday’s game as well as our picks.
Texas: Unless this game is closer than oddsmakers believe it will be, the main storyline continues to be about Ehlinger’s chances at a Heisman Trophy run. He can check off all the boxes — big name, big school, big stats — and he’s been good against Texas Tech in each of the past two seasons (757 total yards, seven total touchdowns, zero interceptions). He’ll need another stellar day to keep his name in the Heisman conversation this early in the season. On defense, it’ll be interesting to see how this Longhorns defense handles Texas Tech’s passing attack after forcing UTEP into six three-and-outs in Week 2.
Texas Tech: The lore of Lubbock isn’t what it used to be. The Red Raiders are 5-15 at home against Big 12 opponents dating back to 2015. Coincidentally enough, the game that helped perpetuate that narrative came in 2008 when Texas Tech’s Michael Crabtree caught the game-winning pass against top-ranked Texas. Wells is still building this program, but he could use a signature win to show things are headed in the right direction. After the yardage the Red Raiders gave up through the air against Houston Baptist, it’s likely they’ll need to win in a good ol’ fashioned shootout.
Game prediction, picks
Texas’ passing attack makes this seem like a real mismatch for the Red Raiders. Unless their defense has made incredible, unforeseen strides, it would seem their only hope is to win in a shootout. They might need Texas to punch down, too. But if Ehlinger gets going, it could be a long night in Lubbock for Wells’ team. Pick: Texas -16.5