After Texas Tech got off to a 4-0 start, Red Raiders coach Tommy Tuberville tempered expectations by saying his team probably wouldn’t be favored to win another game. But on consecutive Saturdays in October, Tech stunned West Virginia and won a tough one at TCU.
Just like that, the Red Raiders got bowl eligibility out of the way, and all things seemed possible.
Not surprisingly, Kansas State thumped Tech 55-24 last week, taking the Red Raiders out of Big 12 Conference title contention.
Nearly anything else is still possible, though, provided the Red Raiders put together a good November. Even a 10-win season, something that seemed preposterous going into the year, isn’t out of the question.
Tech hosts Texas on Saturday, with the winner gaining an edge on the other for Cotton Bowl or Alamo Bowl consideration. Those are the top two bowls after the BCS for which the Big 12 has contracts.
The final month of the regular season promises to be interesting. Here’s how it breaks down week by week:
When/where: Saturday in Lubbock
Opponent record: Texas 6-2, 3-2 in the Big 12
Tech can win because: The Longhorns’ defense has been shockingly bad, despite the presence of several players regarded as all-Big 12 timber before the season. David Ash’s growing pains as a sophomore quarterback doesn’t help the UT cause either.
Don’t take it for granted because: You think Mack Brown hasn’t looked at the tape of last year’s Tech game, when Texas pulverized the Red Raiders’ front seven and rolled up 439 rushing yards? Nearly all the same offensive linemen are back, as well as 230-pound running back Joe Bergeron, who carried 29 times for 191 yards and three touchdowns against the Red Raiders.
When/where: Nov. 10 in Lubbock
Opponent record: Kansas 1-7, 0-5 in the Big 12
Tech can win because: Kansas has lost 17 Big 12 games in a row. What more do you need to know?
Don’t take it for granted because: Kansas running back James Sims has four 100-yard rushing performances in a row — against Kansas State, Oklahoma State, Oklahoma and Texas. And the Jayhawks play solid defense about every other week, holding TCU and Oklahoma State to 20 points and Texas to 21.
When/where: Nov. 17 in Stillwater, Okla.
Opponent record: Oklahoma State 5-2, 3-1 in the Big 12
Tech can win because: Remember that Oklahoma State defense last season that gobbled up 44 turnovers — five more than any other team in Division I? Yeah, well, there’s some serious regression to the mean going on in Stillwater. The Cowboys have only nine takeaways this year and rank 94th in turnover ratio. And turnovers might decide this game with as evenly matched as these two teams seem to be.
Don’t take it for granted because: This will be senior day in Stillwater, giving the Cowboys that little extra emotional spark. On an OSU senior day in 2005, a Cowboys team on a five-game losing streak upset a one-loss Tech team, ultimately costing the Red Raiders a 10-win season.
When/where: Nov 24 at Cowboys Stadium in Arlington
Opponent record: Baylor 3-4, 0-4 in the Big 12
Tech can win because: Baylor can’t stop anybody. Even Iowa State quarterback Steele Jantz, who’s been benched for ineffectiveness each of the last two years, lit up the Bears last week for a career-high five touchdown passes. Jantz tied a school record with 36 completions. If one of the Big 12’s lowest rated passers can do that, imagine what kind of day Seth Doege can have against the nation’s No. 118 pass defense.
Don’t take it for granted because: Baylor might well be fighting for bowl eligibility. Beating Kansas this week would give the Bears four wins, and there’s a good chance they’ll go into Thanksgiving weekend needing to beat Tech and Oklahoma State to qualify for the postseason. Not to mention Art Briles’ Baylor teams always give Tech trouble.
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