WEST VIRGINIA VS. TEXAS TECH PREVIEW: Can Red Raiders keep it rolling?

Red Raiders running back Tre King (24) runs for a touchdown during the third quarter against the West Virginia Mountaineers at Milan Puskar Stadium.Ben Queen-USA TODAY Sports

Another Heisman hopeful comes to Jones AT&T Stadium, will Grier have better luck than the last one?

No. 25 Texas Tech hosts No. 12 West Virginia on Saturday in a game that should probably be played in prime time. Instead it will kick off at 11 a.m. at Jones AT&T Stadium.

Interestingly, West Virginia is a 3.5-point favorite according to Las Vegas, but ESPN's Matchup Predictor gave Texas Tech as 61-percent chance of winning.

Here are some more particulars:


QB Alan Bowman threw his first two interceptions of his college career, but he didn’t seem bothered by them. He finished with 397 passing yards and 2 touchdowns against Oklahoma State. He could have easily passed for more than 400, but Texas Tech went to the running game (46 rushes for 259 yards) to control the clock in the second half.

RB Demarcus Felton spearheaded Texas Tech’s rushing attack as he ran for a career-high 130 yards on 14 carries. He scored a pair of touchdowns, including a 17-yarder that iced the game with 4:29 left. The Red Raiders can potentially rotated up to 5 running backs, so it’s hard to tell if Felton will be the go-to guy again this week, but it would be hard not to give him a shot to see if he stays hot.

S Jah’Shawn Johnson played for the first time this season against Oklahoma State. He had preseason shoulder surgery and was finally cleared to play last week. He made a good show of it, finishing with 4 total tackles and a QB hurry that led to a sack.

DE Eli Howard made one of the key plays of the contest when he reached out and tripped Cowboys quarterback Taylor Cornelius for an 8-yard loss on the drive after Texas Tech took the lead. Howard finished with 4 total tackles, 1.5 TFLs and a QBH.

SERIES HISTORY: West Virginia leads the all-time series, 5-2. Texas Tech won the first two contests after the Mountaineers entered the Big 12 in 2012, but West Virginia has won four straight since then.

QUOTE TO NOTE: "We don’t talk too much about last year. The biggest thing we’ve talked about, I think we had 16 penalties for 160 yards. You’re not going to beat anybody doing that. That’s really the only thing we’ve touched on. We’ve got to play a much cleaner game against this team to have a chance.” Kliff Kingsbury on eliminating mistakes against West Virginia.

KEY MATCHUP: West Virginia QB Will Grier versus Texas Tech secondary. Grier caught fire against Texas Tech last season and threw three fourth-quarter touchdowns that led the Mountaineers from an 11-point deficit to an 11-point victory. He finished with 352 passing yards and 5 TDs. That was the low point for a Red Raider defense that showed overall improvement last season. Texas Tech needs a total defensive effort to slow down West Virginia, but nowhere are the matchups more critical than in the secondary. Texas Tech can’t afford to let Grier get hot throwing long TD passes.


--QB McLane Carter suffered a high ankle sprain in the first quarter versus Ole Miss and hasn’t played the last three games. Even when Carter is ready to go again, it’s unclear rather he’ll be the starter with the freshman Bowman taking off.

--WR T.J. Vasher has an undisclosed injury. Kingsbury said he incurred the injury during the game and returned to action. But then the injury started to bother Vasher later. Kingsbury said he was limited in practice, but hopes the WR is available Saturday.

--S Jah’Shawn Johnson returned to action after missing the first three games with a shoulder injury. He had four total tackles and a QBH against Oklahoma State.

-- RB Da’Leon Ward missed the last three games with a groin injury. Kingsbury said he will be a game-time decision this week.

-- RB Tre King missed the Lamar and Houston games with a knee injury. He suited up against Oklahoma State, but didn’t play. However, it’s unclear whether he didn’t play against the Cowboys because of injury or because of how well the running back rotation of Demarcus Felton, Ta’Zhawn Henry and SaRodorick Thompson were playing.

--CB Octavious Morgan suffered a lower leg injury in the first scrimmage of training camp. It appears that he is out for the season, though Texas Tech hasn’t said that officially.