November 17, 2007

The four keys to a victory

Ironically enough, in a game in which the Red Raiders are arguably playing for pride, they will enjoy one of the biggest regular-season spotlights in Tech football history. Amazingly, ABC has elected to televise the Tech/Oklahoma clash nationwide and in prime time. Do the network execs know something we don't?

Slow Down OU's Running Game: Obviously, this is the greatest question mark facing the Red Raiders, even if it's not a question in the minds of many. For the latter, it is patently obvious that the Sooners will rush for 250+ yards against Tech. The Red Raiders, after all, have been borderline horrendous against the run for what seems like a decade, and indeed surpassed that adjective in Austin allowing the University of Texas to rack up 268 yards on the ground. If the Red Raiders are going to keep this one suspenseful for football fans across the fruited plain, they will have to prevent Oklahoma from rushing for more than 200 yards. The Sooner defense is better than Texas' and won't allow Tech to contend in an out-and-out track meet. After watching the horror film from the Texas game, expect Ruffin McNeill to confect a game plan that commits heavily to stopping the run.

Play with Sustained Emotion: For all of Mike Leach's talk about playing excited, his teams are noteworthy for their relative lack of emotion. They don't prance and carry on like Jimmie Johnson's Miami Hurricanes; heck, they don't even celebrate as much as the Red Raiders of the late Rex Dockery. That will likely change somewhat against Oklahoma. It will be Senior Day, it will be in The Jones after sundown, and it will take place before the aforementioned national television audience. I fully expect the Red Raiders to come out hotter than blue blazes. For them to prevail, however, they will have to sustain that emotion and intensity well enough to withstand the withering counter-assault that Oklahoma will certainly author. This game could resemble the 2006 contest against Texas in which the Red Raiders jumped out to a big lead, only to lose it in the end.

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