For Tommy Tuberville, prosperity at Texas Tech has been an elusive thing. Whenever a chance to turn the corner presents itself, the corner moves another block away.
The Red Raiders had no sooner built some momentum with emotional wins against West Virginia and TCU than they gave some of it back with a two-game losing streak capped by Saturday’s 31-22 home loss to Texas.
The Texas offense is known as a power-running outfit, but it was a series of big pass plays that helped the Longhorns jump to a first-half lead.
David Ash, who was pulled in the fourth quarter against Kansas last week, tossed a 6-yard touchdown pass to Jaxon Shipley on the team’s first drive. Shipley was wide open after two Tech defensive backs got caught in the middle of a wide-receiver pick.
Michael Crabtree stood on the Texas Tech sidelines in the fourth quarter, hands in the pockets of his red sweatpants, watching his college team play Texas.
Crabtree. Tech vs. Texas. Fourth quarter. Jones AT&T Stadium.
Four years after arguably the greatest play in Tech football history — Graham Harrell to Crabtree in the final seconds to beat then-No. 1 Texas in Lubbock — the San Francisco 49erS receiver was back on the South Plains to support his Red Raiders.
Ever since the loss to No. 10 Oklahoma in the Cotton Bowl, Texas has been under an immense amount of scrutiny, even moreso than the Longhorns normally endure.
The defense, which has allowed 130 points in the last three games, has taken the brunt of that criticism, so much so that senior safety Kenny Vaccaro felt like UT had lost every game this season even though their record is one of the tops in the Big 12 Conference.
Perhaps after Saturday’s effort in a 31-22 victory over No. 18 Texas Tech, the fan base for the 23rd-ranked Longhorns will calm down just a bit.
Penalties, blown red-zone chances burn the Red Raiders in rival-game defeat
It seemed as though Texas Tech was finally going to get out of its own way long enough to create an indelible moment in its tortured history against Texas.
But in front of a school-record crowd at Jones AT&T Stadium on Saturday, there was always one more mistake, negative play or missed opportunity to be had for the Red Raiders.
When Texas Tech runs
Big 12 Conference teams have run all over Texas. The top four rushing performances by Big 12 backs have all come against the Longhorns: 199 yards by Oklahoma State’s Joseph Randle, 207 yards by West Virginia’s Andrew Buie, 167 yards by Oklahoma’s Damien Williams and 176 yards by Kansas’ James Sims.
Injuries in the front seven haven’t helped the Longhorns. DE Jackson Jeffcoat is out for the season, and DT Ashton Dorsey and LB Jordan Hicks are listed as out for today’s game.
With five touchdown receptions in the last two weeks, Texas Tech wide receiver Eric Ward has 21 for his career. He could easily reach fourth place on the Red Raiders’ all-time list before his junior season ends.
Ward is tied at 21 TD catches with Nehemiah Glover (2001-04), Wes Welker (2000-03) and Carlos Francis (2000-03) and one behind Mickey Peters (2000-03). Joel Filani (2003-06) has sole possession of fourth with 23 TD catches.
No. 20 Tech will take on Texas at 2:30 p.m. Saturday at Jones AT&T Stadium. The game theme is Lone Star Pride.
Game at a glance
■ Who: No. 20 Texas Tech vs. Texas.
■ When: 2:30 p.m. today.
■ Where: Jones AT&T Stadium.
■ Radio: KTTU-FM 104.3, KJTV-AM 950, KXTQ-FM 93.7, Sirius XM 137.
■ TV: Regionally on ABC (channel 28; Suddenlink Cable channel 8) and on ESPN2 in other regions.
■ Tickets: The game is sold out. Will call booths will open at 10:30 a.m. today.
■ Parking info and directions: www.texastech.com/sports/m-footbl/travel.html.
Texas Tech coach Tommy Tuberville joked during Big 12 media days this summer that he was still having dreams of Texas running backs scampering into the end zone against his Red Raiders.
At least it seemed like a joke.
It would not be surprising if those visions really did haunt Tuberville in his sleep after the Longhorns rushed for 439 yards during a 52-20 win last season in Austin.
Texas never punted in the game and threw only nine passes.
“It was a debacle,” Tuberville said this week.
Tech safety Cody Davis had another word for it.
Tech seniors seek first win against the Longhorns since memorable victory four years ago
Like everyone else inside Jones AT&T Stadium on that magical November night four years ago, Seth Doege was watching.
Eyes wide as saucers, Doege followed the flight of the ball as it left Graham Harrell’s right arm and found its way into the waiting hands of Michael Crabtree, who broke a tackle and tip-toed to the end zone to deliver one of the most memorable highlights in Texas Tech football history.