- Associated Press - Wednesday, September 24, 2014

STILLWATER, Okla. (AP) - Big points and yardage totals are the norm whenever Oklahoma State and Texas Tech get together.

That has especially been the case for Oklahoma State, which has averaged 59 points against the Red Raiders the past three years. The Cowboys beat Tech 66-6 in 2011, 59-21 in 2012 and 52-34 last year.

Tech has been impressive, too. The Red Raiders gained 718 yards in a 49-45 loss in 2007, then beat the Cowboys 56-20 in 2008.

This season seemed ideal for the Red Raiders (2-1) to reverse their fortunes in the series because Oklahoma State was expected to be in rebuilding mode. Instead, the 24th-ranked Cowboys (2-1) started the season by nearly knocking off Florida State, and have won two straight entering Thursday’s home game with the Red Raiders.

“They’re really good,” Texas Tech coach Kliff Kingsbury said. “I think people thought they would drop off. They lost a bunch of good players last year. But these young players have stepped up, they haven’t skipped a beat.”

Tech might be capable of keeping up with the Cowboys this time around. Davis Webb already has passed for nearly 1,000 yards in three games this season, and he has a big-time target in Jakeem Grant.

“They’ve got probably the best vertical passing threat that we’ve seen all year, so anytime that’s out there, there’s a possibility of getting a big play,” Oklahoma State defensive coordinator Glenn Spencer said. “It only takes one. They could throw it out there five times, and if the sixth time’s a big play, then it’s well worth it.”

Here are a few things to watch for in this Big 12 rivalry.

TECH RUN DEFENSE: Texas Tech surrendered 438 yards rushing against Arkansas in its last game on Sept. 13. If the Cowboys’ offensive line is up for it, they certainly have the backs to do damage. Tyreek Hill, Rennie Childs and Desmond Roland all have shown themselves capable. One of Tech’s co-defensive coordinators, Matt Wallerstedt, resigned last week. Mike Smith, who was the other co-defensive coordinator, now has the role to himself.

“He didn’t ask to be put in this situation, it’s a situation that occurred,” Kingsbury said. “We all have to rally with the situation we have, what’s going on. He knows that. Just be positive, give the players a chance to be successful.”

THRILLING HILL? Hill has been effective when he gets the ball, but he has just 23 rushes, nine receptions and 14 returns. That’s about 15 touches per game. The Cowboys have said they wanted to get him the ball often, but they haven’t so far. He still averages 144 all-purpose yards per game.

“We need him to touch the ball,” Oklahoma State coach Mike Gundy said. “He’ll touch the ball more in some games than others, but we’d like for him to be getting it at least 20 times a game.”

GARMAN’S MOMENT: Oklahoma State quarterback Daxx Garman has looked good so far in place of the injured J.W. Walsh, but that’s in part because his two games with significant action came against Missouri State and Texas-San Antonio. He hasn’t played in a prime-time, nationally televised Big 12 game.

WEBB’S CONSISTENCY: Webb is throwing it all over the field, but he also has tossed four interceptions this season. Though he moves the ball, he has contributed to the Red Raiders losing the turnover battle in 11 consecutive games. Kingsbury stressed ball security when he spoke with the media earlier this week.

FINISHING THE JOB: Oklahoma State has scored on every trip to the red zone this season, but the Cowboys aren’t necessarily getting touchdowns. Kicker Ben Grogan has made 8 of 11 field goals. Though Grogan is tied for the Big 12 lead in scoring with 12 points per game, Gundy would prefer to see him kick more often for fewer points.

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Follow Cliff Brunt on Twitter: www.twitter.com/CliffBruntAP .

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