Should the Jayhawks run or should they pass vs. Texas Tech?
Kansas has a good shot to score at least 30 points in a game for a third consecutive week for the first time since doing so in each of the first six games of the 2009 season.
The question then becomes whether Kansas travels primarily by ground or air vs. a Texas Tech defense that ranks 111th in the nation with 454.8 total yards allowed per game. (Kansas is 118th with 482).
The teams' hurry-up offenses are partially responsible for the defenses giving up so many yards. Viewing the average yards allowed per play paints a more accurate picture of a defense’s efficiency.
The Red Raiders defend the run (3.74 yards, 52nd in the nation) better than the pass (7.4, 83rd). So KU should try to pass its way to the end zone, right? Not so fast.
The Jayhawks rank 43rd in the nation with 4.93 yards per rush and 86th with 6.8 yards per pass play.
KU sophomore Khalil Herbert, coming off a 291-yard rushing effort in a loss to West Virginia, ranks 29th in the nation with an average of 7.55 yards per carry.
If Tech can bottle up the running game and prevent Herbert from springing free up the middle for big gains the way he did against West Virginia, look for passes to fill the air all day Saturday for the 11 a.m. kickoff.
Of the nation’s 130 FBS schools, only five have allowed more passing yards per game than Kansas (309.5) and Texas Tech (309.8).
KU has allowed 12 touchdown passes in four games and has just two interceptions. The Red Raiders have given up nine passing touchdowns and have five interceptions.
Tech ranks third in the nation, behind UCLA and Washington State, with an average of 410.8 passing yards, Kansas 18th with 306.8.
Red Raiders senior quarterback Nic Shimonek averages 394.5 passing yards (second to UCLA’s Josh Rosen) and has thrown 12 touchdowns and two interceptions.
KU junior Peyton Bender ranks 14th with 306.8 and has seven touchdowns and seven picks. Shimonek is no stranger to Kansas.
A 6-foot-3, 225-pound native of Corsicana, Texas, relieved injured Patrick Mahomes last season in Lubbock in the third quarter of a 55-19 victory in which the Red Raiders outscored KU, 27-0, with Shimonek standing in the shotgun. He completed 15 of 21 passes for 271 yards and four touchdowns and did not throw an interception.
So there is no mystery as to how Tech will attack, especially given the inexperience of KU’s secondary. The Red Raiders average just 3.93 yards per carry and 125.75 rushing yards a game. Best guess as to Tech's defensive strategy: Load up to try to stop Herbert and force Kansas to try to win it in the air.