Texas Tech Football: Looking back at memorable season openers

STILLWATER, OK - SEPTEMBER 25: The Texas Tech Red Raiders flag flies outside the stadium before the game against the Oklahoma State Cowboys September 25, 2014 at Boone Pickens Stadium in Stillwater, Oklahoma. The Cowboys defeated the Red Raiders 45-35. (Photo by Brett Deering/Getty Images)
STILLWATER, OK - SEPTEMBER 25: The Texas Tech Red Raiders flag flies outside the stadium before the game against the Oklahoma State Cowboys September 25, 2014 at Boone Pickens Stadium in Stillwater, Oklahoma. The Cowboys defeated the Red Raiders 45-35. (Photo by Brett Deering/Getty Images) /
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(Photo by Jamie Sabau/Getty Images)
(Photo by Jamie Sabau/Getty Images) /

2002:  No. 12 Ohio State 49 – Texas Tech 21

The 2002 season opener was the last time Texas Tech faced a power 5 team to begin a season.  Here’s hoping 2018 is not a repeat.

Taking on No. 12 Ohio State in Columbus, Texas Tech was overwhelmed en route to a 49-21 loss.  Kliff Kingsbury, Wes Welker and the Texas Tech offense was slowed most of the day as the majority of Kingsbury’s 341 passing yards and two of his three touchdown passes came when Tech was already down 39-7.

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Still, this game is historically significant in the annals of college football because of what that Ohio State team would accomplish behind its true freshman running back.  The Buckeyes, led by Maurice Clarett, would run the table that season eventually taking home the national championship in the fist ever BCS National Title Game.

And it was against Texas Tech that Clarett would announce his arrival.  The first freshman to ever start at running back for Ohio State rushed for 175 yards and three touchdowns in his collegiate debut.

Clarett was unstoppable as he ripped off huge touchdown runs of 59 and 45 yards.  To this day, when Clarett is brought up by the national media, clips of those runs almost always resurface causing Red Raider fans who watched that game live to cringe as we remember the helplessness we all felt watching the Red Raider defenders play the role of bugs to Clarett’s windshield.

While Ohio State would have a historic season, Texas Tech’s season also turned out to be one worth remembering.  In Mike Leach’s third year, Tech went 9-5 and sent the record-setting Kingsbury out in style with 55-15 Tangerine Bowl win over Clemson. (My, how times have changed for those two programs.)

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The highlight of that season was an upset of No. 4 Texas on senior day in Lubbock.  But though Texas Tech knocked off one of the better Longhorn teams of the past two decades, that UT team did not compare to the team Tech saw in the 2002 season opener.