LOOKING AHEAD FOR ISU FOOTBALL: Week eight, the Texas Tech Red Raiders

Texas Tech running back Tahj Brooks (28) weaving through California defenders during the 47th Radience Technology Independence Bowl Saturday evening, December 16, 2023, in Shreveport, La. © Paul Karge/The Times / USA TODAY NETWORK

Editor’s note: Eighth in a 12-part series previewing each of Iowa State’s 2024 regular-season opponents.

 AMES — Star running back Tahj Brooks and the Red Raiders will likely roll into Ames on Nov. 2 as a ranked team.


 Texas Tech’s 2024 slate features just one team (Arizona) that posted a winning record before it sidles into Jack Trice Stadium in week eight and limiting Brooks’ production will be key for the Cyclones as they could be on the cusp of attaining bowl eligibility for the seventh time in the past eight seasons under head coach Matt Campbell.

 Brooks rushed for 1,538 yards and 10 touchdowns last season and remains the driver of the Red Raiders’ offense. Injury-prone quarterback Behren Morton is also back — and Tech brought in some quality offensive weapons from the transfer portal in Josh Kelly (Washington State) and Caleb Douglas (Florida). The Red Raiders are deep at the skill positions and also added highly-touted recruit Micah Hudson to their receiver corps. He spurned Alabama, LSU and Georgia among many others to stay in his home state and will likely be a potent performer from day one.

 So Tech should be capable of putting up plenty of points, but preventing foes from doing the same could be problematic. The Red Raiders return their top two tacklers from last season in linebacker Ben Roberts and defensive back C.J. Baskerville, but lack experienced depth up front on defense. 

Iowa State vs. Texas Tech: 3 things to watch

 **How to stop Brooks? The stout and swift 5-10, 230-pound senior didn’t face the Cyclones last season but averaged 5.0 yards per carry in a 14-10 win in Ames in 2022. Brooks rushed for 95 or more yards in Tech’s final 11 games last season and scored at least one touchdown in eight of those games.   

 **Will ISU be creative offensively? The Cyclones turned the ball over on downs at the Red Raiders’ two-yard line twice in the 2022 loss and stubbornly tried to run the ball repeatedly against a stacked box. If ISU’s to beat Tech this time around it will have to be less predictable on offense and let quarterback Rocco Becht do his thing.  

 **Can the Cyclones’ defense force some turnovers? The Red Raiders’ offensive line was middling in pass protection last season, tying for 50th nationally in sacks allowed with 24. Tech’s quarterbacks also threw 18 interceptions last season — although Morton was only picked eight times. Three of those interceptions came in a 50-point loss to Texas late in the season, so he’s susceptible to caving under pressure, and ISU’s opportunistic secondary led by preseason All-Big 12 selection Jeremiah Cooper could take advantage of that. 

2024 prognosis

  Texas Tech, like Iowa State, is one of a handful of old guard Big 12 schools hoping to stake a claim as one of the league’s flagship programs. The Red Raiders will ever Ames riding high — and may be undefeated when they meet the Cyclones. Nonetheless, this will likely be a one-score game and the team that’s able to run the ball effectively will eke out a win.