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West Virginia braces for No. 24 Texas Tech

| Friday, Oct. 13, 2017, 8:37 p.m.
Texas Tech's Da'Leon Ward (32) is tackled by West Virginia's Al-Rasheed Benton (3) on Saturday, Oct. 15, 2016, in Lubbock, Texas.
Texas Tech's Da'Leon Ward (32) is tackled by West Virginia's Al-Rasheed Benton (3) on Saturday, Oct. 15, 2016, in Lubbock, Texas.

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — 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 will 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,” Texas Tech coach Kliff Kingsbury said. “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 and 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,” West Virginia coach Dana Holgorsen said. “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.

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