LUBBOCK, Texas — Time of possession is an interesting statistic.
Some coaches stress it as the most important part of the game. They'll say if you control the clock, you control the game. Others don't care about it at all. They'll tell you a touchdown is a touchdown no matter how long it took to score.
Those two contrasting schools of thought will be on display tonight when Kansas State takes on Texas Tech.
Kansas State comes into the game having possessed the ball an average of 35 minutes, 29 seconds. Only Fresno State has held the ball longer. Texas Tech, with its high-flying offense, has an average time of possession of 27:11, a number that ranks ahead of 10 teams.
K-State coach Bill Snyder and Texas Tech coach Mike Leach were asked about time of possession this week, and their answers were — predictably — much different.
"It helps us defensively," Snyder said. "The ball is in our possession, the defense is off the field."
Said Leach: "Providing you do the other things well, you get the most first downs, you have the most plays, the best third-down conversions... I think all three of those combined are more important than time of possession."
There are certainly many ways to look at the argument. Historically, teams that run the ball well and grind the clock have won games. But more and more teams are beginning to find ways to win by scoring quickly.
The Red Raiders have become masters in that respect. During a 48-28 win over New Mexico last week, Texas Tech possessed the ball for 23:45, but three of its touchdown drives lasted less than a minute.
Knowing what Texas Tech's offense is capable of, Kansas State is hoping to run the clock more than ever in this game. The longer its offense is on the field, the shorter Texas Tech's is out there.
"That's certainly one key we have looked at," offensive lineman Wade Weibert said. "We need to keep putting big, long drives together. We want to keep pounding the ball and make sure that we hold onto the ball."
If K-State holds onto the ball long enough, Snyder said the Wildcats can win.
He even has a number in mind.
"Fifty-nine minutes of possession time," Snyder said. "(That's what you need) in order to do well against Texas Tech."