Five questions that have to be asked after college football Week 4
The Red Raiders are finally playing some defense, and Baylor shows signs of life.
Clearly the Texas Tech (3-0) defense has improved from last year. The 27-24 win over Houston marked just the third time in 16 games since the beginning of last season that the Red Raiders held an FBS team to fewer than 30 points. The improvement is encouraging for Tech, but how much of Saturday’s performance had to do with a Houston offense that could very well be worse than a lot of people expected? While a struggling Cougars’ offense may have played a small role, the Red Raiders held the Cougars to just 110 yards on the ground and forced 5 – yes, five – Houston turnovers. To put those numbers in perspective, Texas Tech forced just 13 turnovers through all of last season and also gave up an average of almost 240 yards per game on the ground. The Tech offense is going to score its points, but is the defense able to continue its hot start? This was certainly a major step in the right direction.
What’s next for TCU?
TCU (4-0) was dubbed as a two-score underdog heading into the colossal Big 12 opener Saturday afternoon, but the Horned Frogs quickly proved they are the real deal this season. The defense held one of the most explosive offenses in the country to just 10 points in the first half, allowing Darius Anderson and the TCU offense to build a lead. The Horned Frogs were a Big 12 contender entering the season, but have now moved into the conversation for the College Football Playoff. Now the question is how TCU responds – games against West Virginia and Kansas State are up next, but the important date is Nov. 11. The Horned Frogs infiltrated Stillwater and knocked off the Oklahoma State, but are they able to avoid a let down in the days leading up to the battle against Oklahoma? That matchup in Norman continues to grow in importance – both on the conference and national stage.
Just how good is the North Texas offense?
Staying true to form, Seth Littrell has the Mean Green (2-2) offense showing dramatic improvement in his second year at the helm of the program. In his first season, the offense averaged just 24.8 points per game. Through four games this year, North Texas is putting up an average of more than 37 points. That improvement falls in line with the eight ppg average both the North Carolina and Indiana offense had from year one to year two under Littrell during his days as the offensive coordinator. After putting up 46 points in a win over UAB, will the Mean Green offense be enough to overcome some defensive struggles? There is still a long way to go, but so far the offense has shown dramatic improvement – just how good will the numbers be through the remainder of Conference USA play?
Is there light at the end of the tunnel for Baylor?
Coach Matt Rhule and the Bears (0-4) didn’t have a whole lot going for them after an 0-3 start that included a loss to UTSA and a change at quarterback. But a different Baylor team showed up in Waco against Oklahoma, as the Bears were able to put a legitimate scare into one of the best teams in the country. After falling behind 21-7 heading into the second quarter, the Bears responded to take a 31-28 lead in the third. Baylor had a chance to tie the game late, but let it slip away and fell 49-41. Regardless, this was a major step in the right direction. The Bears hung with the Sooners for four quarters – now, the question is whether or not this can serve as a building block as Baylor heads into another tough matchup against Kansas State next week. The schedule doesn’t get any easier, but will the Bears be able to use this game as a step toward the team’s first victory?
Will UTEP win a game this season?
On paper, the Miners (0-4) appeared to have two very winnable games on the schedule heading into the season – Sept. 9 against Rice and Saturday night against New Mexico State. Unfortunately, both ended in fairly disappointing fashion for UTEP. NM State dominated the Miners 41-14, making it clear there is a very good chance the team goes winless through the remainder of the season. Army is the final non-conference game remaining, and the UTEP has to travel to West Point for that game next week. Then it’s Western Kentucky, Southern Miss, UTSA and Middle Tennessee in Conference USA play. Things aren’t looking good in El Paso – just how painful will this season be?
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Brady Keane is a contributing writer for Dave Campbell’s Texas Football. Follow him on Twitter: @BradyKeane.