Texas Tech Beats Houston In Dramatic Fashion

Why was anyone surprised it came down to who had the ball last? Well, how Texas Tech started the game, maybe it should have been. But with some costly mistakes in the 2nd half, Houston hung around and almost escaped the thundering tortillas raining down on them in Jones At&t stadium. However, Texas Tech beats Houston by a score of 33-30, giving evidence to the theory that a real cultural shift is finally happening under head coach Joey McGuire. Sure, it’s only two games, but a Tommy Tuberville/Kliff Kingsbury/Matt Wells-led team doesn’t win this game.

Defense Kept The “Tunes” Down

Defense and Texas Tech are not synonymous with each other. The Red Raiders knew Houston had a quarterback in Clayton Tune that could carve them up with his arms or his legs. The Texas Tech defense rose to the challenge and bottled up the Cougars’ offensive leader. Tune finished the game 20-39 passing for only 266 yards, one touchdown, and one interception. In regulation, the Red Raider defense only allowed 13 points. Any team facing a Dana Holgersen team would feel great about their chance to win if they knew Holgersen wouldn’t get more than two touchdowns in a game. In fact, the Houston offense did not score its first offensive touchdown until the fourth quarter. The final defensive numbers inflated a little bit due to the double overtime format. But the defense did an excellent job of never letting Houston get into a true rhythm offensively.

Texas Tech Beats Houston Despite Three Interceptions

Quarterback Donovan Smith started the game as Tyler Shough injured his shoulder in week one. Smith opened up the game sharp. He was 19-29 passing for 218 yards and two touchdowns. The Red Raiders held a 17-3 lead at halftime. But as good as Smith and the offense appeared, it wasn’t perfect. The offensive line was getting pushed around by Houston’s front. It showed in the running game as Texas Tech only had 38 yards rushing in the first half. Houston’s defensive line became a larger factor in the second half.

For a team that dominated time of possession (34:27 to 19:41), Texas Tech had every opportunity to bury Houston. When teams are “learning” how to win games, there are inevitable growing pains. The second half was an extended growing paint for the Red Raiders that almost cost them. Smith looked uneasy in the pocket for much of the second half. Houston had 13 tackles for loss in the game, five of those being quarterback sacks. The constant defensive pressure forced Smith into some poor throws. His first interception was horribly underthrown when Tech was driving to put Houston away. The second one was read perfectly by the defensive back, which he ran back for a pick-six. The third one was one of desperation that set up a go-ahead field goal for the Cougars.

A Change In The Story

Texas Tech was tracking to let this victory slip out of its hands just as it had done so many times for so many years. But with 37 seconds remaining in the game, and the ball on their own 25-yard line, Smith and the offense came onto the field and calmly marched down the field with a chance to send it to overtime. Trey Wolff trotted onto the field to attempt a 47-yard field goal to send the game into overtime. After missing a kick earlier in the quarter, which followed a dropped touchdown pass, surely this kick would also go awry. But Wolff drilled it, giving the Red Raiders a second chance.

In the first overtime period, Houston got backed up to 2nd and 21 but would get it back in two plays. Then would march into the endzone. Texas Tech then found itself in a 4th and 20. Red Raider fans knew they had let one slip away, just as they had seen so frequently. No chance Smith, who had a shaky second-half performance, could make the necessary play. But even with the Houston front collapsing the pocket again, Smith calmly rolled to his right and hit Jerand Bradley crossing across the field.

Bradley turned up the field and picked up the first down. The Red Raiders would force a second overtime and force Houston to settle for a field goal. For all the team went through in the 2nd half, the Red Raider rose up and flipped the script that has become too familiar in Lubbock. Thanks to Smith’s nine-yard scamper into the endzone, Texas Tech beats Houston and sparks a real fire for change to could burn very brightly.

Can Momentum Continue In Raleigh?

If Texas Tech is going to hit their ceiling this season, they had to secure a victory over Houston. Since Texas Tech beats Houston and celebrated their first win over a ranked team since 2019, it is all in front of the Red Raiders. NC State showed vulnerability in week one against East Carolina. For Texas Tech to stay undefeated next week, it is going to take another enormous effort by the defense. The offense is not going to be able to turn the ball over three times in the second half.

Texas Tech proved against Houston they have the ability to compete with just about any team on a given Saturday. But a road upset of a top-15 team requires all three phases of the game to be firing on all cylinders. For now, though, Texas Tech should feel great about this win. The real change appears to be present, and this 33-30 victory is the first taste Red Raider fans can savor.