Texas Tech is heading in the wrong direction, but the team still has time to turn things around -- something it failed to do a year ago.
The 25th-ranked Red Raiders will try to avoid a third straight defeat Saturday when they close out their home schedule against a Kansas team that's dropped 18 in a row in Big 12 play.
Since Seth Doege threw a career-best seven touchdowns in a 53-50 triple-overtime win at TCU on Oct. 20, Texas Tech (6-3, 3-3) has gone winless to drop to fifth place in the league.
A week after getting routed 55-24 at then-No. 4 Kansas State, the Red Raiders lost 31-22 to Texas last Saturday. They scored on five of six trips to the red zone but settled for three field goals and committed nine penalties, including a hold in the fourth quarter that brought back a TD.
"We shot ourselves in the foot," coach Tommy Tuberville said. "Made too many mistakes against a good football team. The last two weeks we've done that, so hopefully we can correct that."
Doege and the rest of the Red Raiders' seniors are obviously disappointed to have never defeated the Longhorns during their time in Lubbock, but they want to end this season stronger than 2011.
Texas Tech dropped its final five games last season following an upset of then-No. 3 Oklahoma to finish 5-7 and out of bowl contention after qualifying for one in each of the previous 18 seasons -- a league record.
"We still have a great opportunity to finish the season out the way we want to and go to a great bowl game," said Doege, fifth in the nation with 318.8 passing yards per game.
Tuberville fears that the Red Raiders are "pretty close" to being mentally drained, but facing a Kansas team that's gone 0-8 since a season-opening victory over FCS squad South Dakota State could re-energize them as they try to build momentum for their final two games versus Oklahoma State and Baylor.
The Jayhawks (1-8, 0-6), who lost 41-14 at Baylor last Saturday, have not posted a Big 12 victory since beating Colorado 52-45 on Nov. 6, 2010. Coach Charlie Weis understands that breaking that streak -- and a 16-game road skid -- is going to be a tall order with Texas Tech ranking 12th in the FBS with 499.6 total yards per game and 18th in total defense (314.1).
"They're good on both sides of the ball," Weis said.
The Jayhawks' strength is their running game, as they're piling up 193.4 yards per game. Despite missing the first three games of the season due to suspension, junior James Sims leads the team with 748 yards and six TDs.
Sims has five consecutive 100-yard games, the first Jayhawk to accomplish that feat since LaVerne Smith in 1974. Extending that streak would tie Sims with Gale Sayers for fifth in Kansas history with 11 career 100-yard rushing performances.
"The best players on our team are our running backs and I think that it helps you start to establish an identity," Weis said.
Texas Tech has surrendered 540 yards and six TDs on the ground over the last three games, yet it still ranks 28th against the run in the FBS with 125.9 yards per game.
The Red Raiders yielded 239 rushing yards last season to Kansas, but Doege threw for 366 and three scores and Eric Stephens ran for two TDs in a 45-34 road win that pushed Texas Tech's winning streak in this series to five.
The Red Raiders are 12-1 all-time versus Kansas, winning five of six in Lubbock.
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The Jayhawks raced to a 20-point lead against the Red Raiders last season, but by game's end, this was just another blip on the 18-game Big 12 losing streak. KU is running out of chances to end it, and has looked poor on the road this season. Texas Tech will try to bounce back after last week's painful home loss to Texas.