Five questions facing No. 8 Texas on Saturday at Texas Tech:
1. Will Sam Ehlinger or Krishon Merriweather have another Big 12-worthy game?
Ehlinger, Texas’ senior quarterback, and Merriweather, Texas Tech’s junior linebacker, were honored on Monday as the conference’s players of the week on offense and defense. In the first half of UT’s opener against UTEP two weeks ago, Ehlinger threw for 424 yards and five touchdowns. Merriweather, meanwhile, caught the Big 12’s attention with a 12-tackle performance against Houston Baptist. Ehlinger is 2-1 in his career against Texas Tech. Merriweather spent the last three years at Garden City Community College, so he will be introducing himself to the rivalry this weekend.
2. Can Caden Sterns match his brother’s big days against Texas Tech?
Will bragging rights for the Sterns family be on this line this weekend? Two weeks ago, both of Sterns’ little brothers had big games in Lubbock. Houston Baptist’s Josh Sterns turned five catches into 209 yards and two touchdowns while Jerreth Sterns had 12 receptions, 130 yards and a 6-yard score. But their team came up short in the season-opening 35-33 loss in Lubbock. In two career games against Tech, Caden Sterns has started twice, recorded seven tackles and broken up two passes. He is still looking to pick off a Red Raiders quarterback for the first time.
3. Will “Snacks” or a “Big Lunch” be provided on UT’s defensive line?
Texas’ Ta’Quon Graham said this week that Keondre Coburn has started to refer to T’Vondre Sweat as “Big Lunch.” Coburn himself is known as “Snacks” by teammates. Sterns then let it slip that Coburn and Sweat, who are both listed at 348 pounds, have composed a song about food. Coburn and Sweat have brought humor to the UT locker room, but they are also part of a rotation of interior linemen that includes Graham and freshman Alfred Collins. All hands on deck will be needed against a Red Raiders offense that’s averaged 485.8 yards in the 13 games since Matt Wells took over.
4. Who gives Texas the most production out of the slot?
Last year against Texas Tech, Devin Duvernay fell one yard short of becoming the third Longhorn with a 200-yard receiving game. Will another slot receiver threaten that mark this year? Well, it won’t be Jordan Whittington. He’s out with a knee injury. Jake Smith is a possibility after his hamstring hamstrung him for the opener. Kai Money, a walk-on, and Brenden Schooler, a graduate transfer from Oregon whose brother is a Texas Tech linebacker, are also listed among the “H” receivers on the depth chart.
5. Will this be a blowout or should we expect some drama?
Texas enters this game as an 18-point favorite, its largest spread for a road game in conference play since … Kansas in 2016. Is it wise to bet on a lopsided score? On one hand, Texas did beat Texas Tech by 25 points last year. But the last two battles between these two schools in Lubbock have featured dramatic endings. Four years ago, Kris Boyd intercepted a Patrick Mahomes pass in the end zone with nine seconds left in UT’s 45-37 victory. Two years ago, Lil’Jordan Humphrey had a Michael Crabtree moment when he lifted Texas to a 41-34 victory on a 29-yard touchdown catch in the final minute.