Each of the previous two summers, many Texas Tech fans looked down the schedule and marked a “W” next to “Iowa State.”
Only it didn’t work out that way.
Not only did Tech lose to the Cyclones two years in a row, the Red Raiders gave poor performances both times. Two years ago in Ames, Tech was down 24-0 before anyone’s pre-game coffee had had time to cool. The Red Raiders rallied to tie, then lost 52-38.
Last year’s 41-7 Tech loss in Lubbock was even worse.
“They brought it to us and took it to us in every form or fashion,” Tech coach Tommy Tuberville said Monday. “We were never even close. Hopefully, we learn from that. We have got a lot of guys back from that same team.”
If the Red Raiders are going to reclaim one of the top rungs in the Big 12 Conference anytime soon, they need to stop tripping over the ISU hurdle. When Tech visits Iowa State at 6 p.m. Saturday, the lead-up will be different from the 2010 and 2011 games.
Like this week, the 2010 game also followed an open date on the Tech schedule. Before that, the Red Raiders had faced Texas in Lubbock. Last year, Tech was coming off its upset of No. 3 Oklahoma in Norman, Okla.
“Yeah, the vibe around the locker room and building is totally different than it was last year,” Tech quarterback Seth Doege said. “Guys are excited about this game, which they should be. It’s a big first test, and we remember what happened the last two years. They did what they wanted against us, and we didn’t perform very well on offense.”
Perhaps the most amazing statistic from the last two Tech-ISU games is the Cyclones had two 100-yard rushing performances in each game — one apiece by four different players. That’s not even counting the 92 yards rushing quarterback Jared Barnett had last year.
Doege said there are reminders of the losses to Iowa State in the Tech football building, as if anyone needs any.
“I think the fact that the two scores were posted around the locker room is enough motivation for us,” Doege said. “And the fact that it’s our first big test and our first game going into what our common goal is, to win a Big 12 championship, is motivation enough for us.”
This year’s game is even more important because of what comes after. The next five weeks, Tech hosts No. 16 Oklahoma and No. 9 West Virginia, visits No. 15 TCU and No. 7 Kansas State and returns home against No. 12 Texas.
If the Red Raiders can’t beat the Cyclones, when will they be expected to win a game?
If the first three games are any indication, Tech will least take a better defense to Ames than what the Red Raiders threw at the Cyclones the last two years. ISU’s rushing totals in the 2010 and 2011 games were 251 yards and 368, respectively, and the Cyclones broke runs of 61, 65 and 71 yards.
Tech is ranked No. 1 nationally in total defense after wins against Northwestern State, Texas State and New Mexico. Senior safety D.J. Johnson said the unit is more confident, but knows the non-conference showings don’t count for much otherwise.
“The first three games, to us those are just kind of glorified scrimmages,” Johnson said. “We were still feeling ourselves out, and this is going to be the first real challenge we have had, first game in the Big 12. So it really starts here.”
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