Why The Oregon Ducks Will Make A Statement Against Texas Tech


Contributor, 750 The Game

Oregon has “Shout” at Autzen Stadium. Wisconsin does “Jump Around”. Virginia Tech does “Enter Sandman”. In Lubbock, TX there’s a tradition at Jones AT&T Stadium that involves tortillas. Usually, when I am blending football and tortillas, I’m consuming tacos with a game on my television set. 

I have to hand it to the Red Raiders’ faithful for having a memorable element of college football gameday lore that sticks in my head. I’m hopeful as an Oregon fan that it’ll be on the backburner of my memory by the time the end of the fourth quarter rolls around. 

The game has lost a bit of its shine to fans not located in Lubbock and Eugene thanks to Texas Tech’s shocking loss to Wyoming on Saturday, a game in which they led 17-0 after the first quarter. It’s not a top-25 matchup, and the betting line moved to favor Oregon by about 7 points (depending on where you look). The Ducks were just 3 point favorites before Saturday. 

Teams have peaks and valleys throughout the course of a season. Oregon has certainly had good weeks and bad weeks over the years that were very far apart from a quality of play standpoint. The Cowboys coming from behind to beat the Red Raiders feels like a valley for Joey McGuire’s team which had — and could still have — a good amount of promise in 2023. 

The pressure on Oregon to win the game is higher than it was before. A win doesn’t do as much to help the Ducks’ national standing, and a loss would be far more punitive than it looked before the season. Still, the opportunity for the Ducks to stake their early case to be a Pac-12 and CFP contender is sitting in front of Dan Lanning and his staff.

Last week Wyoming sacked Texas Tech quarterback (and former Duck) Tyler Shough 3 times while still seeing him throw for over 300 yards and three touchdowns. Their air raid approach will be a much greater test for the Oregon defense than Portland State was last week.

The Vikings, an FCS opponent from the Big Sky, threw the ball just 20 times and didn’t give the Oregon pass rush a chance to get home. That won’t be the case on Saturday in Lubbock. 

Oregon’s defense has improved on paper, and it’s hard to have major takeaways after week one’s 81-7 blowout of the Vikings. Despite the loss to Wyoming removing a lot of national appeal on this week’s matchup, internally there are still big things to look at.

I don’t think Texas Tech is in store for a 3-9 season. 10 wins is probably not in their future, but I still believe they can be a 6-8 win team this year if they get themselves back on track. That’s a team that is of sufficient quality to start–though not stop–drawing conclusions about the Ducks’ pass rush and secondary. Do Jordan Burch, Matayo Uiagalelei, and Brandon Dorlus play well enough to make Shough uncomfortable? I’ll also be watching the rotations of defensive backs very closely. 

Wyoming held Texas Tech without a touchdown for the final 3 quarters of the game on Saturday. In a Pac-12 conference that has the best lineup of quarterbacks in the country by a lot, Dan Lanning and Tosh Lupoi’s defense could raise optimism amongst Oregon fans with a good showing this week. Can they hold the Red Raiders to under 275 yards passing? Accumulate 3 or more sacks? 

I liked the Ducks to win the game before the season began, and I feel slightly better about their chances–but I’m not overlooking this week’s matchup for Oregon. I have full confidence in the offense and would love to see the defense put on a showing similar to what we saw against BYU last year. That game was a 41-20 final score but was 38-7 when the reserves came into the game in the 3rd quarter. I don’t expect an outing quite that dominant seeing as they’re on the road rather than inside the cozy confines of Autzen Stadium.

Yet, the chance for a statement will be there for what was the biggest weakness of Oregon’s defense in 2023. Opportunities to defend the pass and pressure the quarterback will be plentiful against Texas Tech’s passing-heavy offense. 

I like Oregon to walk away winners, 34-23. 

Spencer McLaughlin is an Oregon Ducks football contributor to 750 The Game. He also hosts the “Locked On Oregon Ducks” and “Locked On Pac-12” podcasts and has work featured throughout the season here.