- Brandon Chatmon, ESPN Staff Writer
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Oklahoma heads to Texas Tech without its starting quarterback and plenty of baggage after one of the most disappointing losses of the Bob Stoops era, a 48-14 home setback at the hands of Baylor last weekend.
Three keys for the Sooners
Cody Thomas game management: The redshirt freshman quarterback will need to make good decisions, take command of the offense and protect the ball if the Sooners hope to win against the Red Raiders. It will be his first road start, so it will be critical for Thomas to limit distractions and focus on the managing the game well in his first extended opportunity in crimson and cream.
Time to step up for the Sooners secondary: Oklahoma's defensive backfield will need to step up against the Red Raiders. The Sooners secondary played soft and without confidence at times against Baylor, and Texas Tech has the players and system to make Oklahoma pay if the Sooners cornerbacks and safeties don’t step up and win some of the one-on-one battles they lost against the Bears.
Developing a running game: If Oklahoma can dominate with its running game, everything else might not matter. The Sooners are averaging 5.67 yards per carry and have a backfield full of talented running backs with Samaje Perine, Alex Ross and Keith Ford. The Sooners have been held under 200 rushing yards in each of their three losses, so the running game is key.
Player to watch: Thomas. Don’t expect Oklahoma to put the game on his shoulders, but Thomas will have to make some plays and contribute to the cause if the Sooners hope to win. He can make plays with his arm or legs, but it will be important for him not to lose the game with poor decision-making.
X-factor: Ford could be a guy to watch after he finally returned to action against Baylor. With Oklahoma likely to lean on its running game, a healthy Ford could be poised to make a big play or two. Ford’s return (eight carries, 40 yards) wasn’t earth-shattering, but he did show he still is the Sooners' most complete running back.
Stat to watch: Texas Tech’s passing yards. The Red Raiders are third in the conference and 10th among FBS teams with 320.3 passing yards per game. Oklahoma is ninth in the conference and No. 110 among FBS teams, allowing 280.2 passing yards per game.