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Red Raiders Beat Kansas Despite Porous Run Defense

Texas Tech allowed a sixth rusher to gain at least 100 yards in seven Big 12 games this season.

Everything runs through Lubbock? Well, not yet. But it’s not for the reason you think.

In spite of a revolving door at quarterback due to injury or ineffectiveness, the Red Raiders entered Saturday’s game with Kansas with the best pass offense in the Big 12, averaging 317.9 yards per game. Quarterback Tyler Shough led the Red Raiders to a 43-28 win over Kansas throwing for 246 yards and a touchdown and rushing for another 76 yards and a score.

It’s exciting. It’s what Red Raiders fans expect.

But it’s not what is making Texas Tech’s life difficult, nor what stands to keep them out of a bowl game.

It’s their run defense, which seems to get worse by the game.

It’s impressive that Texas Tech was able to win despite allowing Kansas running back Devin Neal to run all over them. He rushed for 190 yards, the most any Big 12 back has put on the Red Raiders this season.

But it’s not the first time the Tech run defense has spent the game chasing someone’s tail. This means the injury to linebacker Tyree Wilson had little bearing on Tech’s consistent inability to stop the run.

Entering the game the Red Raiders were third-worst in run defense, giving up 157.4 yards per game. Neal was the sixth Big 12 ball carrier to put at least 100 yards on the Red Raiders in seven games. Somehow, Texas Tech won two of those games.

Ten years ago, this was the conference of passing the ball. The Air Raid remains in vogue — or at least parts of it — and Texas Tech coach Joey McGuire wants to run 90 to 100 plays a game if he can. But, these days, the Big 12 has turned back toward sound running games, fueled by impressive backs.

The Red Raiders just can’t seem to handle them, especially lately.

The losses have seen the Red Raiders just get run over.

Texas’ Bijan Robinson rushed for 103 yards and two touchdowns in the Red Raiders’ overtime win in September.

The Red Raiders gave up 100-yard games to two players against Kansas State — quarterback Adrian Martinez had 171 yards rushing and three touchdowns while running back Deuce Vaughn had 170 yards.

Baylor’s Richard Reese destroyed them for 148 yards and three touchdowns. Then, last week in Fort Worth, TCU’s Kendre Miller overwhelmed the Red Raiders with 158 yards and a touchdown.

Only Oklahoma State and West Virginia have failed to have a player reach 100 yards rushing — and Texas Tech is 1-1 in those games.

Tech continued that trend of being overmatched up front against the Jayhawks. It turns out that Shough and the rest of the offense helped the Red Raiders overcome Neal’s impressive night.

McGuire’s and the Red Raiders’ goal come December will be to improve their front seven with talent through recruiting and the transfer portal. Texas Tech needs more earth movers up front and more speed on the second level.

For these final two games, as the Red Raiders try to reach bowl eligibility, they’ll have to find a way to overcome their inability to stop the run, just as they did on Saturday.

You can find Matthew Postins on Twitter @PostinsPostcard

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