Texas Tech’s Final Tune-up Before Big 12 Play Is Huge
Florida International comes to Lubbock with a 1-1 record after beating Long Island 48-10 and losing to Texas State in overtime 23-17. The Panthers are led by Butch Davis, who you might know from his time at North Carolina, Miami or maybe even his NFL stints with the Dallas Cowboys and Cleveland Browns.
Davis is in his 5th season at FIU. He started hot with three straight bowl appearances with the Panthers before going 0-5 last year in the COVID-shortened season.
The Red Raiders are favored by about 21 points, depending on where you're looking at the number. That seems like a pretty good line to me. I don't think FIU will come in with the same chip on their shoulder that the Stephen F. Austin Lumberjacks had last week. I also don't think the FIU Panthers match up against Texas Tech in ways that SFA might have.
The Panthers want to run the ball, and D’Vonte Price is a big bruiser and their main back. He's averaging 138 yards per game with about 10 yards per attempt. His day against Long Island was ridiculous. He carried the ball five times for 165 yards and scored three times. He had 23 carries and 111 yards against Texas State with no scores.
FIU ran 47 plays against Long Island to get to 48 points. They had 17 passing attempts and 30 rushing attempts. Against Texas State in their loss, they scored 17 points on 72 plays with 34 passes and 38 run plays.
They live and die by the big play. With the 2021 bizarro world Red Raiders where the defense has been really good at limiting big plays and above average against the rush, I don't see the Panthers being able to do much of anything on offense.
The Texas Tech offense is an enigma. The offensive line hasn't been good, but I can't tell if it's talent, scheme or a heavy dose of both. The offense has also been a victim of all-or-nothing offense, with most of their scoring drives ending on long Tahj Brooks touchdown runs or being set up by long passes to Erik Ezukanma.
If Texas Tech can find a way to continue to have the big plays while working in an intermediate passing attack and a consistent running game, they'll be much more dangerous in Big 12 play. As it stands now, the Big 12 slate looks like a long, hard road full of a lot of teams that look similar.
The game on Saturday, September 18th, is much more than just a game against FIU. It's a chance for Sonny Cumbie and new QB Tyler Shough to get on the same page and establish some chemistry with more receivers than just Erik Ezukanma. If they can't, then we'll have to start taking a serious look at what needs to change for the offense to get where it needs to be.
I'll take the Red Raiders here and lay the 21 points against Florida International, but until Shough puts up a big number, I won't predict one. The offense and special teams playing a clean game and the defense flexing its muscles leaves me at 38-13. That's the under, with the total set at 54 if you're tracking at home.