It was never easy. In fact, until the fourth quarter, Texas Tech needed to string together at least 10 offensive plays to score. Meanwhile, Texas had five scoring drives that required eight or fewer plays. Texas Tech fell behind 24-14 at halftime. However, “The Brand” that head coach Joey McGuire has been preaching was on full display in the second half. Thanks to a scrappy and gritty effort, the Red Raiders stun the Longhorns in Lubbock. This Texas Tech victory over Texas was the first time they have beaten the Longhorns in Lubbock since 2008.
The Air Raid Got Off And Stayed Off The Ground
Coming into this game, Texas Tech averaged 373.7 passing yards per game. Against Texas, they passed for only 331 yards. So how was this offensive attack any different from the last two games? It starts with quarterback Donovan Smith’s accuracy and consistency. Smith had a completion percentage of 68% on 56 pass attempts. More importantly, he turned the ball over zero times. He had thrown five interceptions in the previous two games, including two pick-sixes. The offense’s biggest challenge was the inability to string together plays and drives. When many Texas Tech fans think Air Raid, they have visions of a quick strike offense. Smith was not asked very often to take chances down the field, in part because the offensive line still struggled to give Smith lots of clean pockets.
Smith was only sacked two times, but that was only because of his escapability. This Texas defense did a very good job of limiting big plays. The Red Raiders only had three offensive plays that gained 20+ yards. But the growth the offensive demonstrated today was consistency. Their first two offensive drives were 18-play and 13-play drives for touchdowns. By the end of the game, Texas Tech had run 100 offensive plays to Texas’ 60. The consistency carried across the pass catchers. In total, 11 different receivers caught one of Smith’s 38 receptions. Wide receiver Myles Price led the way with 13 catches for 98 yards.
Fourth Down Decided The Game
McGuire was going to leave nothing for chance. And maybe one day, this type of aggressive play calling on offense will come back to bite the Red Raiders. But today was not that day. Texas Tech was six-for-eight on fourth down conversions. The most critical one occurred late in the fourth quarter. With the game tied at 31, Texas Tech was facing a fourth and three from the 50-yard line with only 2:10 remaining.
Smith stood tall and delivered an accurate ball to Price to keep the chains moving. Texas Tech was able to position itself to kick the go-ahead field goal with only 21 seconds left. Texas took the field with no timeouts from their own 25-yard line. Turns out it was just enough time for quarterback Hudson Card to get Texas into field goal range. Pass completions of 10, 28, and eight yards set up kicker Bert Auburn to send the game into overtime by drilling a 48-yard field goal.
On the first play of the overtime period, Texas’ Bijan Robinson fumbled on the first play of overtime, and the Red Raiders drove the ball to the 2-yard line before Trey Wolff’s winning kick helped the Red Raiders stun the Longhorns. Robinson had 101 yards and two TDs before the catastrophic mistake from the Heisman Trophy hopeful.
Red Raiders Stun The Longhorns…Now What
After the team made their way into the locker room, fresh off celebrating with all of the fans who had poured out onto the field, McGuire addressed his team in the locker room. In his address to the team, he said, “It doesn’t mean anything to beat Texas, it means we are 1-0 in the Big 12…The country is going to find out everything runs through Lubbock.” Undoubtedly and understandably, coach McGuire was fired up. But there is something anyone can feel when he speaks.
In this raw and emotional moment, there was still a level of belief in his eyes that any could feel. A hard-fought victory over an in-state rival does not make anyone the new conference favorite. I’m also sure no one has a Texas Tech/Kansas Big 12 championship game projected at this point either. But as it stands, Texas Tech will go to bed tonight tied for first place in the Big 12. That is something to feel good about.
This team still has plenty of areas for growth. The defense surrendered 13.9 yards per completion. The Longhorn receivers were running wide open for much of this game. They also allowed eight plays over 20 yards, including three that went over 30. The Red Raider defense also only had three tackles for loss and just one sack. Offensively, there is still a lack of explosiveness. If they cannot threaten a defense down the field, it is going to limit what Zach Kittley wants to do with their personnel, putting more pressure on this Red Raider defense. Texas Tech now has back-to-back road games upcoming against Kansas State and Oklahoma State. These next two games will quickly chart the course for the rest of their season.