By BETSY BLANEY
LUBBOCK, Texas — First-year coach Kliff Kingsbury doesn’t think it’ll be tough to get Texas Tech motivated after his team’s first loss of the season.
The No. 15 Red Raiders fell 38-30 at Oklahoma last week and hope to rebound against No. 18 Oklahoma State on Saturday night.
Kingsbury is using the past two games against the Cowboys as motivation. The number 98 is on signs around the locker room. That’s the combined points by which the Red Raiders have lost the past two games to Oklahoma State (6-1, 3-1).
Last year the Red Raiders lost at Stillwater 59-21. Two years ago in Lubbock the Cowboys left with 66-6 win.
“They’re coming back home to play against a team that’s really embarrassed you the last two years, to put it bluntly,” Kingsbury said. “I don’t think there should be any problem getting them motivated to play this game.”
The Cowboys got their running game going last week, but coach Mike Gundy knows that might not be enough.
“We need to become a better passing team to give ourselves a better chance to win this weekend,” he said.
Both teams need a win to stay in the hunt for the Big 12 title.
The Cowboys come into the game on a three-game win streak.
Until the Red Raiders (7-1, 4-1) loss last weekend, Kingsbury had won 13 straight games — his final six as Texas A&M’s offensive coordinator in 2012 and his first seven as the coach in Lubbock. His players know they will have their hands full with the Cowboys.
“We’re going to have to take it from them,” Red Raiders leading receiver Jace Amaro said. “I feel like they have our number. They’ve had our number the last two seasons.”
Here are five things to watch when Oklahoma State plays Texas Tech:
TEXAS TECH TRICKERATION: Look for more trick plays out of Kingsbury and his coaching staff. The Red Raiders pulled several at Oklahoma — getting a couple of TDs off five unorthodox plays. Kingsbury earlier this week said the team had “used it all up for the year,” but after the loss to the Sooners the Red Raiders’ WR Eric Ward hinted otherwise. “We’re not going to pull out all the tricks.”
COWBOYS RUNNING GAME: Oklahoma State junior running back Desmond Roland rushed for 219 yards and four touchdowns on 26 carries in his first career start last week. He got a lot of help from his offensive line. “This was the first game that we were able to play that we had the same starting five, for the most part, as the game before,” Gundy said, adding that consistency in practice for two weeks helped. “I would like to think that has an effect and hopefully they will continue to improve as we move forward.”
RECEIVER RODEO: Five of the Big 12’s top 10 reception leaders will be on the field. Amaro, Ward, Jakeem Grant and Bradley Marquez for Texas Tech and Oklahoma State’s Josh Stewart. Stewart’s resume also includes punt returns. Twice this season he’s returned punts for touchdowns — one was a 95-yarder against TCU, which is the longest in the country this season and a Big 12 record.
RED RAIDERS STAMINA: The Red Raiders will need to hold up better endurance-wise than they did during double-digit drives (16, 11 and 12 plays) the Sooners put together in their win. “I think that wore on them as the game went on,” Kingsbury said. “We’ve just got to find ways to get them off the field.” Oklahoma State is fifth in the conference in rushing offense, averaging 166 yards per game.
WEBB’S THE STARTER: Davis Webb, who threw two of his seven interceptions this season against the Sooners, will work to attack the Cowboys’ pass defense that’s picked off 13 passes in seven games. Webb has thrown for 1,812 yards and 13 touchdowns — seven of those coming in his starts the past three games. “It’s the quarterback’s accuracy, more than anything,” Cowboys defensive coordinator Glenn Spencer said. “That can be scary.”
No. 18 Oklahoma State at No. 15 Texas Tech
When: Saturday at 6 p.m.
Where: Jones AT&T Stadium in Lubbock, Texas.
Radio: KEOK, FM-102.1.
Records: OSU 6-1 (3-1 Big 12); Texas Tech 7-1 (4-1).
Line: Texas Tech by 2 1/2.
Series record: Texas Tech leads 21-16-3.
At stake: Both teams need a win to stay in the hunt for the Big 12 title. Texas Tech is coming off its first loss of the season, 38-30 at Oklahoma, while the Cowboys are riding a three-game winning streak.
Key matchup: Texas Tech rushing defense against Oklahoma State’s running game. The Red Raiders gave up a season-high 277 yards rushing in last week’s loss in Norman and coach Kliff Kingsbury acknowledged that the unit possibly got fatigued in some of the Sooners’ longer drives. The Cowboys appeared to have solidified their run game last week when Desmond Roland, in his first career start, rushed for 219 yards and four touchdowns on 26 carries.
Players to watch
Oklahoma State: WR Josh Stewart is dangerous on special teams. Twice this season he’s returned punts for touchdowns. He has the longest in the country this season and in conference history on a 95-yarder in a win over TCU two weeks ago.
Texas Tech: WR Jace Amaro. Amaro leads the Big 12 in receptions and has seven straight games with at least eight catches. He leads the Red Raiders in receiving with 64 catches for 861 yards and three TDs.
Notes: A win would make the Cowboys the first team to win three straight over Texas Tech in Lubbock since Nebraska (1994, 1996 and 2000). ... The Red Raiders have lost the past two games to Oklahoma State by a combined margin of 98 points, 59-21 last season and 66-6 in 2011. ... 2008 was the last time the Red Raiders beat Oklahoma State, the year they rose to No. 2 in the nation.