Can Matt Wells Avoid Getting Egg On His Face In Lawrence?
I'm 98 percent certain that Texas Tech will beat Kansas this weekend. Of course, that allows for a 2 percent chance that the Jayhawks pull off the upset as they did in 2019, when the Red Raiders traveled to Lawrence for the first time under the leadership of Matt Wells as only 6-point favorites.
The Red Raiders lost that game, 37-34.
The revenge game in 2020, where a Lubbock crowd witnessed firsthand their Red Raiders, a 26-point favorite, beat Kansas by only three points (16-13) in a game that ultimately cost offensive coordinator David Yost his job.
Now, we don't complain about wins in college football, but that was as close to a defeated feeling you could ever have after a victory. Furthermore, Wells was sidelined that game with COVID-19, which means he's technically never beaten Kansas; the victory was credited to DC Keith Patterson, who acted as head coach that day.
2021 is a brand new year, though. Texas Tech has matched its win total of the previous two seasons by Week 6. A 4-2 record has Texas Tech fans feeling giddy and optimistic, right? The short answer is no, not really. The long answer is noooooooooo, not really.
After a drubbing at the hands of the Texas Longhorns in Austin after an entire non-conference slate of claiming that game was somehow more personal than in the past, Wells lost any confidence built in the undefeated nonconference - what wasn't lost by a rough first half in Houston or a tough game against FCS opponent Stephen F. Austin. I'm not claiming any of the loss of faith is warranted either, just that the pulse of the fanbase was shaken after the game in Austin.
A close win in Morgantown against West Virginia began to extinguish the flames, and a near 400-yard rushing performance in a humiliating loss to TCU in Week 6 ignited the boo birds once more.
That brings us to a Kansas team that’s fairly athletic on offense, starring quarterback Jason Bean, who leads the team in rushing with nearly 300 yards on the season through six games.
The team hasn't exactly kept things close this season against credible opponents, however. The Jayhawks took care of business to open the season against South Dakota State, but since then have lost to Coastal Carolina, Baylor, Duke, and Iowa State. None of those games were closer than 19 points, and the two Big 12 games Kansas finished 45-7 and 59-7 to Baylor and Iowa State, respectively.
I understand that some people are down on the Red Raiders, but as bad as they looked against TCU and Texas, they should be at least two touchdowns better than Kansas, if not a full three. I'm allowed to not give Kansas any credit; I'm just some schmuck on the internet.
The Texas Tech coaching staff shouldn't be overlooking them, though. This is a pivotal game for the future of Matt Wells in Lubbock. Another close game to Kansas, and the tension rises and the seat warms. Another Lawrence loss? I don't want to speculate on that today, but it wouldn't be good.
I wrote two weeks ago that I thought Matt Wells could still lead the Red Raiders to a bowl game, and I'm not wavering from that point. But that begins with a win in Lawrence. A good ol’ classic curb stomping of the Jayhawks would also go a long way toward appeasing a fanbase that voted “yes” on only 17 percent of the ballots in the totally official Job Approval Tuesday poll I conduct every week on Twitter:
For what it's worth, there's a serious whipsaw nature to the polls, but 17 percent is the lowest Wells’ approval rating has been since I began tracking in September 2020. The 17 percent came after the win against Kansas last year. What new low would be set if the Red Raiders only manage a three-point victory in 2021? I'd reckon single digits.
At Wells' weekly press conference, he pushed back at the idea that it was the scheme that was an issue against TCU, instead saying the team didn't execute their run fits or fill their assigned gaps. Wells even mentioned that the team had four men at the line of scrimmage more than 40 percent of the time after bringing a linebacker up.
That still didn't put more than 6 in the box at any given time against a team that only threw 10 passes against Texas Tech. If Kansas can have similar success on the ground or even half the success as TCU, the game will not be in Matt Wells’ or Keith Patterson's favor.
If Kansas can rush for 200+ yards against the Red Raiders on Saturday, he'll be at the podium after the game with an egg on his face. And as we know from this week’s presser, he prefers scrambled eggs at home. So maybe the Texas Tech fanbase will oblige.
For prediction's sake, I'll say Texas Tech can put up points on the Jayhawks with a cool 42. That doesn't mean the Red Raiders cover. Unitl we see the defense be consistent, I just don't trust the unit.
Final score: 42-25, with the Red Raiders winning and covering the 16.5-point spread by the thinnest of margins.
The Raiderland with Ryan Hyatt and Rob Breaux discussed Matt Wells’ egg preference, Lincoln Riley's media ban, Jon Gruden's omission from the Buccaneers ring of honor, and much much more during their daily show.
If you missed it, catch some highlights below: