Texas Tech lifeless in 31-15 loss to No. 24 Iowa State

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Image by Jason Davis/Nexstar

AMES, Iowa — Texas Tech could not move the ball on offense and could not stop the ball on defense Saturday, falling 31-15 to No. 24 Iowa State. 

The Cyclones got inside the Red Raider 5-yard line on each of their first four drives, and punched three of them in for touchdowns.

Meanwhile, Texas Tech didn’t pick up a first down until its third drive of the game, and didn’t score a point on offense until there were fewer than five minutes remaining in the contest, after Alan Bowman had been benched.

Through three quarters, Iowa State had gained 459 yards to Texas Tech’s 95. 

It was a dominant performance through and through. 

With the loss, Texas Tech is now 1-3 overall and 0-3 in Big 12 play.

Texas Tech actually scored the first points of the game, and with the offense scuffling it took a big play on special teams to get on the board. 

The Red Raider defense got off the field when Jacob Morgenstern made a third down tackle at the 3-yard line to force a field goal attempt. Eli Howard blocked the field goal and it landed right in Zech McPhearson’s hands. McPhearson ran it back 90 yards into the end zone, giving Texas Tech its short-lived lead. 

After that play, Iowa State scored 31 straight points. 

Purdy was clinical in the first half, completing 19-25 passes for 187 yards. He seemingly had an open target running across the field on every play, making it easy for him to move the chains.

That target was often a tight end; the Cyclones play three of them who stand 6’6” or taller. Their size makes them a nightmare matchup for Texas Tech’s linebackers and safeties, and they combined to catch 10 passes and two touchdowns. 

Purdy had help on the ground from running back Breece Hall. In 2019, Hall had a huge game against Texas Tech in Lubbock, accounting for 256 yards. He was equally effective Saturday, finishing with 135 yards and two touchdowns. 

Hall ran patiently, biding his time in the backfield until his linemen cleared a hole for him. When he saw a crease, he burst through it, leaking into open space where he could use his agility to shake linebackers and defensive backs. 

Things weren’t much better for Texas Tech on the other side of the ball. Alan Bowman got the start at quarterback after missing most of the Kansas State game with an ankle injury, and he struggled to instill offensive momentum. 

Bowman hardly threw deep, looking mostly for his running backs and tight ends on short routes. The Cyclone defense covered those well and made tackles when the passes were completed, preventing big gains. 

Erik Ezukanma and T.J. Vasher, Texas Tech’s top two healthy receivers heading into the game, combined to catch one pass from Bowman. KeSean Carter missed the game with an injury.

Without the threat of the deep ball, Iowa State could stack the box to stop the run. Texas Tech finished with 58 rushing yards, and just 14 of those came from SaRodorick Thompson.

After a fourth down throw that was nowhere near Ezukanma, Matt Wells replaced Bowman with Henry Colombi. Bowman finished the day 13-22 for 97 yards.

Colombi marched the Red Raiders down the field on his first drive, capping it off with a touchdown strike to Ezukanma. On one drive, he accounted for 78 yards; just 19 fewer than Bowman gained in three-and-a-half quarters under center.

Colombi breathed new life into the offense Saturday, and perhaps he’ll be able to do the same for the Red Raiders’ season if Matt Wells names him the starter.

If Colombi does take over, he’ll make his starting debut in Lubbock against West Virginia on October 24.

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