Texas State head coach Dennis Franchione has led his team to many upsets throughout his 28 seasons.
Last year, before hosting Texas Tech, the Bobcats punched Houston in the mouth on the road, 30-13.
This season, the Bobcats’ start is par for the course, opening with a 22-15 road win over Southern Mississippi.
As a member of the Sun Belt conference, Texas State is fully capable of pulling off an upset, especially if the opposing team isn’t careful.
“Usually, you have to have a few things go your way — some turnovers or a big play or two for yourself,” Franchione said in the Sun Belt media teleconference on Monday. “Generally, sometimes, for some teams, they need something to happen for them early. They think they need to hang around for a while and kind of get the game to a point in time when you’re in the fourth quarter and hoping to make a few plays in the fourth quarter to make the other team feel a little pressure.”
Two years ago, Texas State led the Red Raiders at halftime 10-9, but Tech had a big third quarter, scoring 20 points to change the momentum.
In last year’s 58-10 home loss to Tech, Texas State posed no threat of an upset, with Tech’s second-string players trying to get the game over with.
“I don’t feel a need to motivate our guys this week,” Franchione said in a press conference Tuesday. “When we played Houston, it was Texas guys versus Texas guys, so you have a little pride on the line. It’s similar in this game. Any time you play a Texas school, you have those things.
“These guys know what happened the last two years. They’d like to walk off the field Saturday with their head held higher. Last year just got away from us so quickly, I don’t think our guys felt like they had a chance to show what they could do. They’d like to have a chance to show what they can do.”
Saturday the Bobcats come to Lubbock after an off week, rested up and ready to play.
“The open week needed to be good because we certainly have a lot of challenges ahead, starting this week,” Franchione said. “Texas Tech is very dynamic on offense. They’re senior-dominated with (seven) seniors starting on defense. The kicking game is doing well.”
Francione said Lubbock is a tough place to play, and that could be true again Saturday. Tickets sold out five days in advance.
“So they’re anxious for us to come, I guess,” Franchione said. “We’ve been in this situation before. We played them well in the first half two years ago and then turned it over. Last year it just got away from us early.”
The Bobcats lost quarterback Shaun Rutherford, a 2012 senior, but he was hardly effective against the Red Raiders last year, going 0-for-7 with an interception before being replaced by Tyler Arndt.
Arndt, a senior, has completed 27 of 39 passes for 258 yards with no touchdowns or interceptions this season.
He’s not quite the dual-threat quarterback Rutherford was, but with a committee of running backs, Arndt doesn’t have to do everything.
Sophomore running back Chris Nutall leads the ground attack for Texas State with 169 yards and two touchdowns.
Two weeks ago against Prairie View A&M, Nutall had the longest run by a Bobcat in two years with a 77-yard touchdown.
Juniors Terrence Franks and Jordan Moore, sophomore Robert Moore and junior transfer C.J. Best are some of Texas State’s biggest weapons offensively.
So far this season, the Bobcats have scored five touchdowns on the ground compared to only one in the air.
Texas State, like Texas Tech, has multiple options at receiver.
Seniors Isaiah Battle and Andy Erickson anchor the receiving corps. Bradley Miller currently leads the group with 71 yards, and sophomore Brandon Smith is looking to have a breakout year.
The Bobcats’ offensive line, like Tech’s, is full of youth.
Senior Devin Baker at tackle and junior center Charlie Will Tuttle anchor the line with two freshmen lining up at guard and a sophomore at tackle.
Franchione and his staff have looked at the video from Tech’s 20-10 win over TCU to figure out how the Horned Frogs’ defense kept the score low.
“We know Gary Patterson’s defense well,” Franchione said. “We run almost the same thing. That helps because you understand what they’re trying to do by watching the film. Offensively, TCU ran a few more formations that were helpful to us to see how they defended it.”
Texas State is No. 1 in the NCAA in rush defense, allowing only 68 total yards through two games.
The Bobcats are also in another No. 1 slot, turnover margin, averaging plus-3 per game after forcing seven turnovers and committing just one turnover in the first two games this season.
Texas State will start two transfers defensively against the Red Raiders — senior tackle D.J. Yendrey from TCU and junior linebacker Michael Orakpo from Colorado State.
After watching film, Franchione knows what he needs to do to give his team a chance Saturday night — make Baker Mayfield make mistakes. The Tech freshman quarterback threw his first three interceptions last week after having none the first two games.
“We got to watch the (Tech-)SMU game before Southern Miss,” Franchione said. “I think the biggest thing TCU did was make him move around in the pocket and throw him off rhythm. They had a great run of stops. They went eight possessions in a row holding them to minus-11 yards during that span. TCU has a great defense. We’ll see where we match up with them. We’ve had two good games.”
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Who: Texas State at Texas Tech
When: 6 p.m. Saturday
Where: Jones AT&T Stadium
Records: Texas State 2-0, 0-0 in the Sun Belt Conference; Texas Tech 3-0, 1-1 in the Big 12 Conference.
Rankings: Texas State unranked; Texas Tech No. 25 in The Associated Press Top 25.
Last game: Texas State 28, Prairie View A&M 3; Texas Tech 20, TCU 10
Last meeting: Tech 58, Texas State 10 last year in San Marcos.