Texas Tech entered the season with high hopes and championship aspirations.
After four conference losses, including losses in three of the last four weeks, Tech must defeat Baylor this weekend at Cowboys Stadium to finish in the top half of the Big 12 Conference.
The Red Raiders lost to the Robert Griffin III-led Bears last season, 66-42. Tech allowed 617 total yards and gave up 38 first downs in the loss.
Baylor defeated then No. 1 ranked Kansas State last weekend 52-24 at Floyd Casey Stadium.
The Bears, who typically are a pass-first offense, resembled Kansas State’s rushing attack in the rout of the Wildcats. Baylor rushed for 342 yards, and five of their seven touchdowns came on the ground.
Sophomore running back Lache Seastrunk and junior Glasco Martin led the Bears rushing attack. Seastrunk, an Oregon transfer, rushed for 185 yards against the Wildcats, averaging nearly 10 yards per carry, while Martin rushed for 113 yards and three touchdowns to help propel the Bears to victory.
Tech coach Tommy Tuberville said Seastrunk will be a feature back for Baylor in the near future.
“He’s not as big as the guy we saw last week, but he can run,” he said. “He’s quick, he’s mobile, they throw the ball to him, and you can tell he’s gotten stronger, being his first year, better as the year has gone on. He’s got a lot of talent I remember from high school. He’s a talented, quick guy that’s going to make a lot of plays for Baylor next year.”
Senior receiver Terrance Williams also has played a significant role Baylor’s offensive success.
Williams has accounted for 1,518 of senior quarterback Nick Florence’s 3,429 passing yards including a 314-yard performance against West Virginia earlier in the season.
Senior defensive back Eugene Neboh said Tech has to return to playing sound in both its assignments and technique if it wants to be successful against Baylor.
“We’re going to have to play technically sound,” Neboh said. “These past two out of three weeks we haven’t been playing technically sound at all times. We’re going to have to focus in the film room and dial into the game plan.”
Tech surrendered 390 rushing yards in the win against Kansas. The Red Raiders then were exploited the following week for nearly 500 total yards in the loss to the Cowboys.
Senior safety D.J. Johnson said injuries have caused many of Tech’s defenders to play in new positions, with new assignments, which may be the cause of the recent defensive mishaps.
“I think it’s more mental than physical,” Johnson said. “I think physically we’re in shape, we’re still ready to go. I think those losses have weighed on us. Then, at the same time, it’s you not being in your position, so you’re focused more on ‘I need to be in this position,’ you’re thinking more than we were at the beginning of this season. So I think we’re a little more fatigued than any other aspect.”
Tech (7-4, 4-4) will play its final game of the season against the Baylor Bears (5-5, 2-5) at 1:30 p.m. Saturday in Cowboys Stadium, marking the ninth consecutive afternoon game for the Red Raiders.