Photo via Brendan Maloney, USA Today Sports

Our game-by-game preview of Texas Tech’s season concludes, as they travel to Austin the day after Thanksgiving and finish their season against Texas. According to our predictions thus far, Texas Tech would be 6-5 entering the matchup. So while bowl eligibility is already secured, the Red Raiders would still have a lot to fight for.

For starters, the game against Texas every year is a big one for Red Raider faithful. Texas Tech embodies the blue collar culture of West Texas, so the chance to knock off a more prestigious and well-funded program like Texas is always special. Second, Tech would be fighting for a 6-3 mark in Big 12 play, which would put them in the top half of the conference in all likelihood. That would be by far the best mark in Kingsbury’s tenure, improve their bowl position, and give their head coach some security moving forward.

On the opposite side of the ball, the Longhorns enter 2017 with some serious questions marks. Who will be the starting quarterback? How will Tom Herman perform in his first year as head coach? There seem to be two types of people in college football, those who think Texas is about to be back in national contention, and those who think they’re perennially overrated. If it takes Texas a while to work out some of the kinks that may hold them back from turning a corner in 2017, teams tend to improve as the season goes on. By this point in the year, I expect them to be a solid squad, regardless of their record.

The matchup between Texas Tech and Texas embodied the Red Raiders’ season as a whole. They surrendered a ton of yards on the ground to D’Onta Foreman and lost by one possession in a shootout. (Tech lost three Big 12 games by one possession last year.)

No matter if it’s Shane Buechele or Sam Ehlinger who’s taking snaps under center for the Longhorns, Texas Tech will need to stop the run first if it wants to avoid another track meet. Relatively speaking, it seems as if under defensive coordinator David Gibbs, Tech’s defense improves slightly as the season goes on. Last year, the defense put the team in a good enough position to win against TCU, Oklahoma State and Baylor down the stretch.

If the Tech defense is improved from last year, and continues to build on added experience throughout the 2017 season, they may do enough to stop Texas on the ground. The Longhorns have also struggled to consistently get production out of their skill players in recent years, which could further aid Texas Tech’s defensive efforts.

In the end, however, the Red Raiders rarely win in Austin. Prior to their victory there in 2015, Tech hadn’t won in Austin since the late 90’s. It just doesn’t happen that often, and I believe Tom Herman will have a good team on his sideline by this point in the year.

 

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