Friday, August 29, 2008

Texas Tech 2008 Season Prediction

It's Friday night...which means some of you have started up your first tailgate of the year. I'm stuck in Dallas for another 9 hours before I make the first of 3 treks to Lubbock this season (I'll also be at SMU and Texas as well as OU in Norman) to root on the Red Raiders. Since we're just about as close as we can get to the start of the Big 12 season (we won't consider Baylor's shellacking last night)'s time for my 2008 predictions.

Texas Tech 56 Eastern Washington 13 (1-0) - Harrell and company will pick apart an Eagles secondary that is without both starting CB's for 300 yds by halftime as Tech heads to the locker room up 42-3. At this point it's a matter of how long the Leach and Ruff want to play the starters.

Texas Tech 52 Nevada 17 (2-0) - A game that's 17-14 Tech at the half is out of reach by the start of the 4th. The offense kicks it in gear after a slow start as Harrell takes a few drives to adjust to throwing the ball at 5000 ft elevation. The defense turns in another very solid performance despite giving up 14 early points due to good field position for Nevada.

Texas Tech 70 SMU 14 (3-0) - June Jones is welcomed to West Texas with the Ponies' worst loss of the season. Tech scores as much as they want in this game as the Air Raid throws for 500+ against the Ponies and Shannon Woods turns in a nice 100 yd rush/50 yd receiving game.

Texas Tech 66 UMass 7 (4-0) - One more rout as the Red Raiders finish off their ho hum non-conference schedule. The defense is the star in this one, holding the Minutemen to under 150 yds total offense and scoring at least 1 TD.

Texas Tech 48 Kansas State 17 (5-0, 1-0) - The Red Raiders make their first big statement of the year in the "Little Apple" as Woods, Batch, and Crawford combine for 150 yds on the ground and remind Daniel Calvin over and over of his mistake in choosing to play for the Wildcats. Oh...and the Swarm repeatedly tells Josh Freeman to STFU as they get to the QB for 4 sacks and hit him 10+ times!

Texas Tech 35 Nebraska 20 (6-0, 2-0) - The good news for Nebraska...they hold Tech to half the points that they allowed the last time they visited Lubbock. The bad news for Nebraska...they can only double their offensive output from the last time they visited Lubbock. Joe Ganz makes some nice plays and Bo Pelini's defense shows flashes of greatness...but the Huskers still have a ways to go as Tech easily rolls over Big Red for a 35-6 lead before the Huskers get 2 late 4th quarter TD's against Tech's 2nd and 3rd string defense.

Texas Tech 52 Texas A&M 17 (7-0, 3-0) - The 12th Man is worked into a frenzy midway through the 3rd quarter when JaPorky Lane belly flops into the endzone and the football explodes. Unfortunately the score is now and 42-10 and aggie is quickly returned to their miserable existence as this happens:

Welcome to the new Big 12 Mike Sherman!

Texas Tech 41 Kansas 38 OT (8-0, 4-0) - Tech falls in a HUGE hole early (think 24-3 middle 2nd quarter) as the perennial A&M hangover is evident on the team. However, this year is different...and the Air Raid gets a late TD just before half and comes out with a strong drive to start the 3rd quarter and cut the deficit to 24-21.

A quick 3 and out from the Jayhawks and Harrell finds Detron Lewis in the endzone 4 plays later. It feels like the rout is at 28-24 on but these aren't your daddy's Jayhawks. Kansas goes on a methodical 14 play drive and chews up the rest of the 3rd quarter, putting a TD on the board to start the 4th quarter with a 31-28 lead. Unfortunately for Rock Chalk, the Air Raid is operating at 100% efficiency and finds pay dirt with just under 10 minutes left and reclaims the lead at 35-31.

Todd Reesling refuses to lose this game and is scrambling all over the backfield to avoid Sesay, Williams, et al and finally gets a TD on the board after converting 3 3rd downs and 1 4th down on a drive that takes just under 8 minutes off the clock.

This time, the Air Raid moves the ball down the field but can't reach the endzone in time and has to call on true frosh Donnie Carona to keep the dream season alive from 42 yds out. Fortunately, Carona quickly stamps his name in TT lore and shows ice cold veins just like his predecessor, Alex Trlica.

In overtime, L.A. Reed makes his switch to defense worthwhile as he steps in front of a Todd Reesling pass and takes it 78 yds to pay dirt. However, Randy Christal is officiating the game and flags Reed for excessive celebration/taunting on his way into the endzone. Thanks to rule changes in 2008, this is a 15 yd penalty and Texas Tech takes over at the KU 40 yd line for it's first possession of overtime.

Fortunately for the Red Raiders, Christal can't do much about Michael Crabtree as he picks up 21 yds on consecutive passes from Harrell. Leach wastes no time in getting out of Lawrence with a victory and sends in Carona for a 34 yd FG attempt on 2nd and 8 (Harrell ran a QB sneak to get the ball in between the hashes). Carona comes through again...Raiders win...get the hell out of Kansas before Mangino gets hungry!

Texas Tech 55 Texas 31 (9-0, 5-0) - Graham Harrell send the Horns and their putrid secondary packing. Will Muschamp just might be the latest and greatest DC on the market...but very few times your first experience facing the Air Raid a good one...and his is no different. This is Harrell's statement game for the Heisman as he throws for 450+ and 5 TD's.

Texas Tech 42 Oklahoma State 21 (10-0, 6-0) - Yet another year of the home team winning this game. Tech is sluggish to get going for an 11AM start and it's 14-14 at the half. Things finally click late in the 3rd quarter with the score knotted at 21 all and the Red Raiders win going away...setting up a HUGE showdown in Norman in 2 weeks.

Oklahoma 38 Texas Tech 34 (10-1, 6-1) - The Red Raiders channels visions of the 2007 OU game as they go up 27-10 in the 2nd quarter. However, Sam Bradford finds Manuel Johnson for a late TD and the teams go to the locker room at 27-17. A big 3rd quarter has the Sooners taking a 38-27 lead into the final period of play. Harrell and company are able to orchestrate one scoring drive to get within 4 points with under 4 minutes to play...but they can't get the ball back until there's 30 seconds left on the clock and 70 yds of field in front of them...and the dreams of a perfect season fall just short on a bitterly cold night in Norman.

Texas Tech 42 Baylor 24 (11-1, 7-1) - The Bears show glimpses of improvement under Art Briles and they hang with Tech through halftime with the scoreboard reading 21-17. However, the Red Raiders superior talent shines through in the 3rd quarter and Leach finally calls the dogs off early in the 4th quarter after 3 straight TD drives with the game in hand. Baylor scores a late TD to cover the spread...and Tech's seniors go out as a part of one of the best Texas Tech classes ever, finishing with 45 wins over a 5 year period.

Parting Thoughts

If the season plays out even remotely close to what I've conjured up, I think many a Tech fan will be able to look back and smile at the end of the year. I'm not going to predict if 11-1 gets Tech into the Big 12 Championship or a BCS game because 1) those things are out of Tech's control and 2) they had their chance to seal a Big 12 Championship in the OU game. If 11-1 puts Tech in the Cotton Bowl vs Auburn or LSU...I'm happy. If 11-1 puts Tech in a BCS Bowl game...I think all but the most naive Red Raider will be thrilled beyond measure.

So now let's sit back...root for our team at all times...stop waiting for the Germans to bomb the Jones...and enjoy the ride!!!

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