- Associated Press - Friday, October 13, 2017

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. (AP) - No. 24 Texas Tech’s resurgent running attack could throw off West Virginia’s focus on slowing down quarterback Nic Shimonek.

The Red Raiders (4-1, 1-1 Big 12) had their best game on the ground in five years in a 65-19 win last week at Kansas, and they’ll be eager to try it again Saturday against a West Virginia defense that has struggled to stop the run.

“It opens up everything for us offensively,” said Texas Tech coach Kliff Kingsbury. “We know going in that’s what we have to do, and we’ll work to do that.”

Lately, Texas Tech has done more than just rely on Shimonek, who is third nationally with 362 passing yards per game.

The Red Raiders compiled 313 rushing yards on 52 carries against the Jayhawks. Justin Stockton ran for a career-high 161 yards while 235-pound Desmond Nisby had 94 yards and four touchdowns . Nisby has six TDs in his last three games.

“The amount of times that they are handing that thing off is more than what they have been doing,” said West Virginia coach Dana Holgorsen. “Their philosophy is to have guys back there throwing it all over the place, and they can still do that. They have four wideouts that can go. They are all very capable of being able to score any time they throw them the ball. Then you add that running game element to it, it is a different deal.”

West Virginia (3-2, 1-1) had several defensive players return from injury last week and limited No. 6 TCU to 50 yards below its season rushing average. That may have been one of the few bright spots in the 31-24 loss, which knocked the Mountaineers out of The Associated Press Top 25 poll .

A year ago in Lubbock, Texas, West Virginia raced to a 24-7 halftime lead and forced Texas Tech to throw the ball to try to catch up. The Red Raiders were limited to 34 rushing yards in the 48-17 loss.

“When they get you in that one-dimensional mode where you’re having to throw it, that’s playing it right into their hands,” Kingsbury said.

Texas Tech won two previous road games this season but has lost three straight to the Mountaineers.

“They’ve had our number, and we’ve got to go up there and try to execute at a high level,” Kingsbury said.


Some other things to know as the Red Raiders and Mountaineers meet on Saturday:

IN THE RANKINGS: Texas Tech is ranked for the first time since 2013 and Kingsbury said it makes no difference to him. “I just show up and coach football, so I don’t have much to say on that,” he said. West Virginia has lost nine straight times to ranked opponents.

POTENT OFFENSES: Texas Tech is second in scoring nationally to Central Florida at nearly 47 points per game. West Virginia is ninth at about 44 points and has surpassed 500 yards of offense in every game.

CAMPUS SHOOTING: Kingsbury offered his condolences to the family of a Texas Tech campus police officer who was fatally shot Monday night in Lubbock, Texas. The school’s more than 36,000 students were ordered to shelter in place during the search for the suspect. “We obviously work closely with those guys at Texas Tech PD and it’s a tough situation for everybody involved,” Kingsbury said.

SPECIAL TEAMS GAFFES: West Virginia has seen its share of problems on special teams this season, including last week when a botched punt return led to a TCU short drive for a touchdown. The Mountaineers also missed a short field goal.

COACHING PALS: Kingsbury was the Red Raiders’ quarterback under Mike Leach from 1999-02 and credits Holgorsen for getting him into coaching. Holgorsen was an assistant coach at Texas Tech from 2000-07. When Kingsbury was an offensive quality control assistant at Houston in 2008, he shared an apartment with Holgorsen, who was the Cougars’ offensive coordinator.


More AP college football coverage: https://collegefootball.ap.org and on Twitter at https://twitter.com/AP_Top25 .

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