Bracing for a shootout in the Sierras


Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin

RENO, Nev. -- Hopefully the statisticians at Mackay Stadium have a couple of calculators in reserve.

The matchup between Texas Tech and Nevada will pit two of the nation's top four offensive attacks. Before the game is over, we could very well see at least 1,000 yards and more than 100 points if both offenses play up to potential.

A crowd of about 24,000 is expected tonight -- about 6,000 short of capacity -- for the visit by the No. 12 Red Raiders and their high-powered aerial attack keyed by QB Graham Harrell.

A hot, almost cloudless day with temperatures in the low 90s will remind the Red Raiders of West Texas. And the scenery at the stadium is reminiscent of the Sun Bowl in El Paso with nearby mountains ringing the facility.

Playing at altitude could affect the Red Raiders' no-huddle attack.

"It's just something you don't mention," Tech defensive coordinator Ruffin McNeill said. "You just play with the hand that you're dealt. It's not something we're making a big deal about."

Saturday's game is one that Tech needs to win to prove its national credibility. It will be the toughest game the Red Raiders will have before Big 12 play begins.

Tech has led the nation in passing four of the last five seasons and leads the nation after the first week of the season after torching FCS opponent Eastern Washington for 536 yards. And it will be facing a defense in Nevada that features two starting cornerbacks with no FBS experience before last week's game.

Biletnikoff Award winner Michael Crabtree started the season quietly for him with "only" 73 yards on nine catches. He was bracketed more with double coverage and Harrell opted to throw to other receivers when he had the opportunity.
The extra attention for Crabtree opened receiving options for Eric Morris and Detron Lewis, who produced 164 and 163 yards, respectively. It wouldn't be a surprise if Crabtree faces similar coverage, leaving the other receivers open.

But the Red Raiders will face their own challenges against Nevada coach Chris Ault's vaunted Pistol offense that rolled up 629 yards, including 426 yards rushing, in the opener against Grambling.

Tech's biggest challenge will be to contain multi-faceted Nevada QB Colin Kaepernick, who Tech coach Mike Leach has said could be the best quarterback that the Red Raiders will face this season. He rushed for three TDs and passed for 122 yards last week in the blowout victory.

This game also could test the limits of the new clock rules set by the NCAA's rules committee. Don't be surprised if this game lasts nearly four hours if both offenses are humming.

So we're all waiting in the press box expecting big numbers.