Texas Tech Football: Pros/Cons Of 2017 Schedule

LUBBOCK, TX - NOVEMBER 12: A general view of play between the Oklahoma State Cowboys and the Texas Tech Red Raiders at Jones AT
LUBBOCK, TX - NOVEMBER 12: A general view of play between the Oklahoma State Cowboys and the Texas Tech Red Raiders at Jones AT /

Texas Tech football begins its 2017 season one week from today.  If the Red Raiders can navigate through a tough early portion of the schedule they should be able to return to the postseason.

In one week, Texas Tech football fans will board the annual roller coaster ride that is the college football season.  It is an addiction that fans simply can not beat, despite the gut-wrenching turns, drops and loops they are certain to endure.  To best prepare for the ups and down, let’s look at the 2017 schedule to see just how wild of a ride 2017 might be.

The most unusual aspect of the schedule is the early bye-week, which comes after just one game.  Because of the university’s policy of not scheduling any games during finals, the Texas Tech football team will not receive a bye week during Big 12 play.

(Technically, the team does have a bye week during league play but it is the final week of the season, during Tech’s final exam period, which does does not benefit the team in any way.)

This means that the Red Raiders will face a gauntlet of eleven consecutive games.  Obviously, this is far from ideal.  In years past, a lack of depth on the roster has caused problems when Tech’s Big 12 bye week comes at the end of the season.  Injuries are a certainty and not having a true second off week has often been too much for Texas Tech to overcome.

But, the 2017 team looks to have more depth, especially on the defensive side of the ball.  Still, most of that depth is young and/or inexperienced.  As many as ten players in the defensive two-deep defensive rotation are redshirt freshmen or transfers so while there will be more bodies to take snaps, it is yet to be seen how much help they will provide in terms of actual production.

So while the week two bye is not ideal, it does provide one benefit.  After the team opens with Eastern Washington, it will have an extra week to prepare for two crucial non-conference games against Houston and Arizona State.  Tech will likely need to win at least one of these games if it hopes to return to a bowl game so the extra week of preparation could give the Red Raiders a leg up to finish its non-conference slate.

Plus, the coaches will be able to assess the team and address the mistakes they see from the film of the opener.  This extra coaching could be huge for the large number of young players that will be playing significant snaps.

For example, consider how this will help the backup quarterbacks.  If Texas Tech is able to take care of Eastern Washington and one or two backups QBs get snaps in that game, the coaches will have an opportunity to decide which player should be the backup to Nick Shimonek.  Regardless of who emerges as the No. 2 quarterback, he will benefit from some game action followed by two weeks of coaching before the next game.

When Big 12 play opens, the Red Raiders get the benefit of opening at home.  However, that contest will be a huge test as one of the Big 12 favorites, Oklahoma State is the foe.  The Cowboys are ranked No. 10 in the first AP poll and are riding an 8-game winning streak against Tech.

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After the Big 12 opener, Tech has its only back-to-back road games of the season at Kansas and West Virginia.  Though Kansas has put a scare into the Red Raiders in recent trips to Lawrence, that is a game Tech must win or face the frighteningly real prospect of starting league play 0-3.

Traveling to Lawrence is the least daunting trip a team can take in the Big 12.  Thus, it is a benefit to have the Jayhawks as part of the back-to-back road games and sandwiched in between two very good opponents.

Fortunately,  the back half of the schedule sets up well for Tech.  Only two of the final six games are road contests.  However, those two games, at Oklahoma and Texas, are at two of the venues where Texas Tech has struggled mightily over the years.

What works in Texas Tech’s favor is that the majority of the toss-up games on the schedule are home games.  Games against Arizona State, Iowa State, Kansas State and TCU look to be the contests that will determine the fate of the 2017 team.  Each game is winnable but by no means are any sure-fire wins.

The other toss-up game on the conference schedule is a neutral site game against Baylor in Arlington, Texas. After all the turmoil in Waco over the past two years, no one knows what to expect from the Bears this year.  It would be better for Tech to play Baylor early in the season while Baylor adjusts to its new coaching staff but that is not the case.

Still, Tech should have the benefit of a large partisan crowd in Arlington and will expect to beat the Bears on a neutral field.

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The 2017 schedule is set up for the Red Raiders to finally be the team that surges in the second half of the season.  If the team can weather the tough first half of the schedule, a heavy home slate gives the Red Raiders a chance to build momentum down the stretch.  If the young players on the team develop, this could finally be the season that Tech finishes the season with a second-half surge.