A battle of two 5-5 teams was about as evenly matched as their records. The teams were within 41 yards of total offense of each other. Both teams had 10 drives in the game. Both teams scored on four of their drives. However, it was one routine play that is anything but routine in college football that proved to be the difference. Thanks to a missed PAT in the fourth quarter, Texas Tech secures a bowl birth by a score of 24-23 over UCF.
Red Raider Defense Gave The Offense A Chance
The mission was clear for Tim DeRuyter’s defensive squad; find a way to limit the rushing attack of UCF. The stats don’t paint a clear picture of it they achieved their goal. Gus Malzahn’s team finished the game with 238 yards on the ground, which is the exact average that had coming into the game. However, one of the big differences is they did not let R.J. Harvey dictate the game. Harvey was limited to 78 yards on 20 carries. UCF Quarterback John Rhys Plumlee shows he had 13 carries, but most of those were passing plays in which he scrambled.
The Knights did come out of the gate quickly scoring on their first and third drives of the game. But the defense kept UCF from scoring on five straight drives, with the fifth drive resulting in a game-changing interception in the third quarter. A late-fourth down blown assignment gave UCF an easy touchdown pass that appeared was going to tie the game up with 5:30 remaining in the game. However, UCF’s point after attempt was partially blocked as it hooked left of the goal post, preserving the 24-23 score.
Texas Tech’s Offense Made Just Enough Plays
The Red Raiders took the field needing to find a way to hold on to the one-point margin. Before this point in the game, the Texas Tech offense had left a lot of points on the field. It has been well-established at this point that Texas Tech will go for it on fourth down more than any team in the country. But the Red Raiders saw fourth down conversion attempts fail at both the UCF 8 and 30-yard lines in the first quarter. Quarterback Behren Morton also threw an interception in the third quarter while on the UCF 40.
But the offense still had plenty of success in having a one-point lead in the game. Running back Tahj Brooks only carried the ball 24 times, but still had 182 yards and one touchdown. Morton spread the ball around to eight different receivers for 256 yards and two touchdowns. And yet, it was all going to come down to this final drive. In a season in which so much has gone wrong on the margins for the Red Raiders, the last 11 plays of the game went off without any issues. UCF never got to touch the ball again. It was a season-defining drive as Texas Tech secured a bowl birth in the final game at Jones AT&T Stadium before the renovations were completed.
Texas Tech Secures A Bowl Birth For Third Consecutive Season
It wasn’t the most direct route to become bowl-eligible, but the fact remains that Joey McGuire has this team playing in college football’s postseason in his first two seasons as a Red Raider head coach. The last head coach to have Texas Tech go to bowl games in consecutive seasons was Mike Leach. This also marks the third straight season that Texas Tech secures a bowl birth. The last time the Red Raiders accomplished that was 2008-2010. McGuire is now 7-1 in the month of November as Texas Tech’s head coach.
Last Word will do the full autopsy on this season once it is over, but McGuire’s got the program in a spot it hasn’t been in 15 years. He has also done so having to start three quarterbacks in each of those seasons. And make no mistake; he will have the Red Raiders fired up with the opportunity to crush the Texas Longhorns playoff dreams on Black Friday this week.