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Kliff Kingsbury had almost forgotten what it felt like to lose; does he remember how to bring a team back?

Tech loss was coach's first in more than a year

Posted: October 28, 2013 - 3:49pm  |  Updated: October 29, 2013 - 12:22am
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Texas Tech and Kliff Kingsbury are moving on from their first loss of the season.  Stephen Spillman / AJ Media
Stephen Spillman / AJ Media
Texas Tech and Kliff Kingsbury are moving on from their first loss of the season.
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Kliff Kingsbury wanted to put this off as long as possible. Texas Tech finally lost a football game on Saturday, and the Red Raiders’ coach has little experience at bringing teams back after losses.

Heck, it’s been 53 weeks since he’s had to do it.

The last three seasons, the teams with whom Kingsbury has been associated have been 31-4. The 2011 University of Houston squad finished 13-1, the 2012 Texas A&M team went 11-2 and, after a loss Saturday at Oklahoma, Tech is 7-1.

Quite simply, Kingsbury is more used to being around happy locker rooms on a week-in, week-out basis than lifting up players who are down. Does he remember how to do this? He’d better because No. 15 Tech has No. 18 Oklahoma State in town Saturday.

“As a coordinator, you’ve been there, lost before,” Kingsbury said Monday. “Not very often, which is a good thing.

“But it’s a highly motivated group. They’re coming back home to play against a team that’s really embarrassed you the last two years, to put it bluntly. So I don’t think there should be any problem getting them motivated to play this game.”

Although Tech had won eight games in a row dating to last season, Kingsbury’s personal winning streak was at 13 before Oklahoma beat Tech 38-30. He hadn’t been in the losing locker room since Oct. 20 of last year.

Kingsbury already has put a couple of motivational ploys into play. Signs went up in the Red Raiders football building this week with the number “98” — the cumulative margin of Tech’s 66-6 and 59-21 losses to Oklahoma State the last two years.

Kingsbury acknowledged it’s his idea.

“That’s close to a hundred. That’s what they beat us by the last two years,” Kingsbury said, “so I just wanted to make sure they knew that, and hopefully they’ll have some pride in themselves when they see that.”

From the moment the Red Raiders walked off the Oklahoma turf, Kingsbury has mentioned repeatedly that, whether they’d won on Saturday or lost, they’d still need to win all their remaining games to be Big 12 champion. He told the players and told the media again and again.

“Everything’s out in front of them,” Kingsbury said. “If you want to win the Big 12, you were going to have to win the rest of the games anyway, and I think they see that.”

The last couple of seasons, teams for whom Kingsbury coached did just fine in their bounce-back weeks. Last year’s A&M team, after a season-opening loss to Florida, slapped SMU 48-3. And after an Oct. 20, 2012, home loss to LSU — the last for Kingsbury until now — the Aggies routed Auburn on the road 63-21.

The 2011 Houston team’s one loss came in the regular-season finale against Southern Mississippi, and the Cougars then beat Penn State 30-14 in their bowl game.

Of course, the last two years, Kingsbury’s teams had a good antidote to losing: Aggies quarterback Johnny Manziel and UH quarterback Case Keenum.

Kingsbury was co-offensive coordinator for the Cougars and offensive coordinator for the Aggies.

Now Tech has lost, and it’s up to him to get the Red Raiders into the right frame of mind.

Kingsbury says he will be.

“Twenty-four hours and I’m good,” he said. “It’s tough here for a little bit, but there’s so much to play for, and like I said, it’s all out in front of us if we approach it the right way.”

 

don.williams@lubbockonline.com

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College football

Who: Texas Tech vs. Oklahoma State

When: 6 p.m. Saturday

Where: Jones AT&T Stadium

Records: Oklahoma State 6-1, 3-1 in the Big 12; Texas Tech 7-1, 4-1.

Rankings (BCS/AP/coaches poll): Oklahoma State 18/18/12; Texas Tech 15/15/15.

Last game: Oklahoma State 58, Iowa State 27; Oklahoma 38, Texas Tech 30

Last meeting: Oklahoma State 59, Texas Tech 21 last year in Stillwater, Okla.

TV: FOX (channel 34; Suddenlink Cable channel 10)

Line: Tech by 21/2.

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