10 Points: Texas Tech Chokes in Loss to Cowboys


The start of Texas Tech’s Halloween game against Oklahoma State began about as well as the Red Raiders could have hoped. Unfortunately, things went south in hurry as Texas Tech’s second half performance consisted of penalties, interceptions, special teams gaffes, and perhaps most sobering: a blown lead.

Kliff Kingsbury had previously mentioned Texas Tech’s offensive success being tied to their ability to get Patrick Mahomes II going early, and for the most part they did just that. Texas Tech jumped out to a 31-14 lead midway through the first half behind touchdowns from Jakeem Grant and Justin Stockton. The offense ran like a well-oiled machine through the first and second quarters and seemed on pace to create a significant lead over the Cowboys. Similarly, the Texas Tech defense played as well in the first half as they had in their last three outings.

Things were looking good for the Red Raiders as they hit the undefeated Cowboys with haymaker after haymaker. Tech was on a roll offensively, and gained an extra possession with an interception by Dakota Allen, a freshman linebacker from Humble, Texas. David Gibbs’ defense seemed to be playing with a purpose and intensity that wasn’t present in the disappointing outings against Kansas and Oklahoma. Unfortunately, that level of play couldn’t be sustained as the Cowboys cut the lead to ten just before the half.

Momentum had already begun to shift in favor of Oklahoma State when Texas Tech safety Jah’Shawn Johnson was ejected from the game for targeting. The controversial call was just the latest puzzling decision made by the same Big XII officials  that had called the Oklahoma State- Texas game; a match which featured many similar controversial calls.

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While Johnson’s ejection didn’t break the game open for Oklahoma State, it may have had a significant effect on the already paper-thin Texas Tech defense. In the second half Texas Tech’s secondary would be torched by Oklahoma State receivers on 73- yard and 75- yard touchdown receptions. As Texas Tech’s level of play deteriorated, so did any chance of surmounting the Cowboys’ lead. Eventually the Red Raiders’ regression would be their undoing as they put on a clinic on how to steal defeat from the jaws of victory.

10 Points from Texas Tech vs. Oklahoma State:

  1. Choke Job — The final score would be indicative of a classic Big XII shoot-out, however the reality is that Texas Tech gave up a multi-possession lead and contributed to their own loss more than Oklahoma State actually won the game. This isn’t a slight to the Cowboys, as they were talented enough, and smart enough, to take advantage of the Red Raiders self-destruction. Texas Tech may simply not know how to win against good teams; an egregious development considering their are only three games left in the season. Whether this is due to a lack of confidence or lackluster execution one thing is for certain; it starts at the top. David Gibbs and his defense’s less-than-ideal depth may get a pass, but the offense’s and special teams’ inability to maintain any semblance of poise has contributed to every loss this season.
  2. Jekyll and Hyde — Texas Tech’s success largely correlates with how well their quarterback is playing. That being said, Texas Tech struggled to maintain the early success they had on offense in the first half. A combination of penalties and interceptions doomed the offense, while the defense seemed to revert to bad tackling techniques and mistakes. The story was similar in regards on special teams; Jakeem Grant’s 100- yard kickoff return was the antithesis to the complete meltdown by the punting unit in the second half.
  3. “Targeting” — Texas Tech’s defense has left a lot to be desired both in terms of technique and effort, which makes Jah’Shawn Johnson’s ejection all the more ridiculous. The “targeting” penalty is insanely inconsistent in terms of definition, so much so that it is automatically reviewed in most cases. The fact that Johnson was still ejected from the game even after the officials looked at the call is further confounding.
  4. Questions Remain — Simply put: Texas Tech may not be talented enough, at least at this point in time, to operate in the offensive system that they do. Things were going well in the first half, but went downhill quickly once it became evident the defense wouldn’t be able to hold off Oklahoma State. Furthermore, Texas Tech’s offense, and the speed in which they play with, does absolutely no favors a Texas Tech defense that is routinely gassed late in games.
  5. Special Teams — Jakeem Grant’s kickoff return for a touchdown may have been the highlight on special teams, but will likely be overshadowed by mind-numbing mistakes late in the second half by Texas Tech’s punting, and punt-coverage team. Oklahoma State’s Jared McCleskey’s 67-yard punt return for a touchdown allowed Oklahoma State to take the lead late in the game and compounded a series of Texas Tech mistakes up to that point.
  6. Expectations — Texas Tech sits at 5-4 on the season, with only three more opportunities for a sixth, bowl-game berth clinching victory. Coincidentally, Texas Tech’s four losses have come against the four best teams in the conference, two of which are playoff-spot contenders. That being said, what is Texas Tech’s best victory so far this season? Arkansas? Iowa State? Neither would be considered “good teams”. Texas Tech is likely not as good as a large part of the fanbase believed after the victory against Arkansas, and also likely not as bad as the blow-out losses to Baylor and Oklahoma seemed to indicate. Texas Tech is somewhere in the middle, along with the other middle of the pack teams of Texas, West Virginia, and Kansas State; all teams left on the Red Raiders schedule.
  7. Turning Point — Texas Tech had all but relinquished momentum by the second half, however Oklahoma State seemed to break the Red Raiders’ will when the defense failed to account for the Cowboys’ change at quarterback early in the fourth quarter. J.W. Walsh replaced Mason Rudolph as OSU’s quarterback and ran right up the middle of the Texas Tech defense for a 67 yard gain. Walsh would score on the very next play.
  8. UnderratedThe ability of Texas Tech’s offense, or any offense, to score 53 points and still lose. This either says a lot about the high caliber of Big XII offenses, the low caliber of their defenses, or both. 
  9. OverratedThe targeting penalty on Johnson. It would be too easy for the Texas Tech fanbase to blame the loss on a singular bad call early in the game. However, the call did have a negative effect on the Texas Tech defense; the secondary lost one of their better overall players, and the Cowboys were essentially gifted a touchdown two plays later. Texas Tech’s defense is simply not good enough to not let bad calls such as this to affect them in game.
  10. Final Thought — Questions still remain in regards to Texas Tech’s defense, and now confidence in Mahomes and the offense seems shaken after consecutive weeks of mediocre play. Can the Red Raiders knock off the Mountaineers next weekend? Texas Tech travels to Morgantown, West Virginia next Saturday, where they will take on the West Virginia Mountaineers at 11:00 a.m. central time. Television coverage will broadcast on FOX Sports 1.