The schedule for the Texas Tech football team in 2013 holds as many question marks as ever.
And that’s not because of the quarterback battle or head coach Kliff Kingsbury’s mindset that no good magician reveals his secrets.
The parity of the Big 12 Conference has evened the playing field.
Looking at the 12 matchups for this season, it’s hard to distinguish a win from a loss in most games on the Red Raiders’ schedule.
Each game has its tipping points but anything can happen under the lights.
■ Aug. 30, at SMU
This is what Tech fans have been waiting for since December. The Kingsbury era begins, but don’t mark this game with a W in ink just yet.
The combination of June Jones and Hal Mumme on that SMU sideline is a formidable one. The inexperience of the Red Raider secondary will be tested by senior quarterback Garrett Gilbert and company. Gilbert will be joined by fellow Texas transfer in the backfield, junior running back Traylon Shead.
A win would catapult the Kingsbury era off to a great start, and excitement surrounding Red Raider football would grow. A loss would quiet the Tech fans, but they wouldn’t blame Kingsbury. Instead, they would make sure the color of their shirt matched what section they were going to sit in for the stripe-out game the next weekend.
■ Sept. 7, Stephen F. Austin
People of America, you will now get to experience the new video board. You have driven by it on Marsha Sharp Freeway this summer, and now you get to experience the high-def and new sound system.
A win is, let’s be real, expected and would propel the Red Raiders into a Thursday night Big 12 opener against TCU.
A loss? If Tech drops this one, start getting excited about basketball season.
■ Sept. 12, TCU
Prime time, Tech fans. This game is the only one on ESPN for a Thursday night. For the Horned Frogs, this will be Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year Devonte Fields’ first game of the season after he sits out the first two to serve a suspension.
The inexperienced Red Raider offensive line will have to get ready for him.
While some people aren’t drinking the purple Kool-Aid, the Horned Frogs could end the season as the Big 12 champs. At least, that’s what some players around the conference are predicting.
If the Red Raiders take down TCU, they have to guard against the letdowns that plagued them after upsets at Oklahoma in 2011 and against West Virginia in 2012. In 2011, Tech finished 0-5, and in 2012, Tech went 2-4 before defeating Minnesota in a bowl game.
An early conference loss would provide more urgency to fix problems before conference play resumes in early October.
■ Sept. 21, Texas State
A win should be a piece of cake.
A loss would cause much gnashing of teeth.
■ Oct. 5, at Kansas
Despite Jayhawk head coach Charlie Weis calling his team a “piece of crap” at Big 12 media days in July, don’t overlook this team. The amount of talent he rounded up from junior colleges is impressive.
Plus, nothing gets Kansas fans more fired up than a little basketball in Allen Fieldhouse. The night before the Tech-KU football game, Kansas has its Late Night in the Phog, where freshman phenom Andrew Wiggins will definitely be putting on a show.
A win would get Texas Tech one step closer to bowl eligibility. The Red Raiders need it, because the trip to Lawrence is the first of three conferece road games in a four-week stretch.
A loss would be a surprise, yet not out of the question. Last year in Lubbock, Kansas rushed for 390 yards and took Tech to overtime before losing. James Sims, who set a KU record with six 100-yard rushing performances despite missing three games, is back.
■ Oct. 12, Iowa State
This homecoming matchup in Lubbock should be a win for the Red Raiders. It is the only home game for Texas Tech in the month of October. Iowa State returns the fewest starters in the Big 12, and inexperience is a concern.
A win would get the Red Raiders closer to a bowl game and be a solid boost at the halfway point in the season.
A loss would not be pleasant, especially going into a two-game road trip, starting with ...
■ Oct. 19, at West Virginia
The Mountaineers lost their big three of Geno Smith, Tavon Austin and Stedman Bailey to the NFL and are searching for skill-position replacements. They remain talented at running back, especially with the arrival of Charles Sims, the talented transfer from Houston.
With WVU head coach Dana Holgorsen and Kingsbury getting the offenses going, this game could turn into the high-scoring game many expected last year. Plus, the Mountaineers are probably looking for some payback.
With no unbeatable opponents in the first seven weeks, Tech fans are hoping for a 7-0 start. The later the season gets, the tougher the schedule.
■ Oct. 26, at Oklahoma
The eight-time Big 12 champion Sooners aren’t the preseason favorite this sesaon, something they have taken personally. Some doubts are reasonable, given a lack of experience on defense and a new quarterback. However, Oklahoma does have a mobile quarterback, a threat Landry Jones didn’t present.
A win would be the second straight win in Norman for the Red Raiders. Beating the Sooners team would help with bowl positioning, once again.
A loss would put the Red Raiders on the spot, with no pushovers on the schedule in November.
■ Nov. 2, Oklahoma State
First team to 70 wins. Really, that could very well be the case with the up-tempo pace of both offenses. Alabama head coach Nick Saban would really enjoy watching this fast-paced game.
Oklahoma State’s the preseason conference favorite by media who cover the Big 12, so a win would elevate Tech’s status and show promise for the remainder of the season and beyond.
A loss would fire up the team for its remaining three-regular season games.
■ Nov. 9, Kansas State
This is the last home game for the Red Raiders in 2013. People have been ranking the Wildcats low all preseason, but underestimate head coach Bill Snyder, and he’ll make you look stupid.
A win would send the seniors out with a bang.
A loss would make the Baylor game that much more important, depending on how many wins Texas Tech has at this point.
■ Nov. 16, Baylor (AT&T Stadium)
Baylor will look to take advantage of the run game, like it did last year. Head coach Art Briles and Kingsbury will make it a fun game to watch offensively while the defensive coordinators will try to slow the other one down. The game should be a close one, much like the series has gone the last five years.
Win this one, and Tech gets energy as well as a week off going into the regular-season finale in Austin.
A loss would not be something the team is thankful for the following week.
■ Nov. 28, at Texas
Texas Tech fans may change their Thanksgiving tradition to eating steak, hoping their team will do the same on the field. While many people are buying into the Longhorns, I’m not buying it yet. Junior quarterback David Ash has a lot to prove, but the group of running backs he has by his side will be an asset.
A win would make Lubbock go crazy. Who doesn’t like beating Texas in Austin?
A loss could end the season for the Red Raiders if they failed to accumulate six wins throughout 12 games. However, if the team has gotten to six wins, it could land Tech in a mid-level bowl game.