Texas Tech football: Kliff Kingsbury needs signature home win

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 /

The Texas Tech football team hosts No.12 West Virginia Saturday giving head coach Kliff Kingsbury another opportunity to notch a signature home victory, something he has not yet delivered.

There was a time in the not-too-distant past when opposing teams dreaded their trips to Jones Stadium.  Sell out crowds, unruly students and the Jones Stadium mystique made Texas Tech one of the best home teams in the Big 12 in the 2000’s.  But as the program has struggled in the past decade, that home field advantage has disappeared leaving Texas Tech football fans to wonder where the memorable Jones Stadium moments have gone.

Coming off a dominating 41-17 win over Oklahoma State in Stillwater last week that was arguably his best win as head coach, Kliff Kingsbury now has an opportunity to secure a signature home win against No. 12 West Virginia this week.

Certainly, Kingsbury’s resume is lacking memorable home wins.  With just a 17-15 home record since 2013, far too often, the Red Raiders have failed to defend the home turf sending fans home disenchanted and frustrated.

Kliff Kingsbury has managed to beat just one ranked team in Lubbock, No. 24 TCU in 2013.  Since then, the biggest home wins to his credit would be a 59-44 win over Kansas State in 2015 to secure bowl eligibility, a 52-45 win over Arizona State in week two of last year or this year’s non-conference 63-49 win over Houston.

Those wins were nice but far from the huge home wins that Texas Tech fans grew accustomed to as the program rose to prominence under Mike Leach.  Texas Tech football home games used to be can’t-miss events because, regardless of the quality of the opponent, anything could (and usually did) happen.

But that has not been the case in the last decade as the Red Raiders have continually failed to pull off the type of home upset that used to be the program’s calling card.  Tech has lost its last seven home games to ranked opponents and has not beaten Oklahoma or Texas in Lubbock since defeating the Sooners 41-13 in 2009.

Virtually all of the memorable wins of the Kingsbury era have come on the road.  Kingsbury’s two wins over Texas (2015, 2017), his win over Arkansas (2016) and his lone wins against TCU (2016), West Virginia (2013) and Oklahoma State (2018) all came away from home.

Therefore, a win over West Virginia this weekend would do more than just keep the Red Raiders undefeated in Big 12 play.  It would help begin the process of restoring the Jones Stadium magic.

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And we do not have to look back very far to see an example of how that magic brought down an even more highly-ranked West Virginia team.  In 2012, The Mountaineers were ranked No. 5 in the nation when they made the program’s first ever trip to Lubbock.

The Red Raiders jumped out a 35-7 halftime lead and cruised to a 49-14 win.  Tech QB Seth Doege threw for 499 yards and six touchdowns while tight end Jace Amaro had 156 yards receiving and a touchdown on just five receptions.

Meanwhile, West Virginia’s star quarterback Geno Smith saw his Heisman Trophy aspirations blown away in the gusty West Texas wind.  Completing just 36 of 50 passes for a mere 278 yards, Smith was abysmal causing his reputation to take a hit from which he would never fully recover.

This year, West Virginia again comes to Lubbock with a Heisman Trophy candidate at quarterback in Will Grier and an offense that many feel is the best in the Big 12.  Maybe that old Jones Stadium voodoo will finally resurface sending the Mountaineers home to ponder another demoralizing trip to the South Plains.

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If that happens, not only will the Red Raiders be serious contenders for a spot in the Big 12 title game, they will finally defend their home turf against a ranked opponent.  Figuring out how to once again become a dominant home team would be another step in the resurrection of the program and would further endear Kliff Kingsbury to the home faithful.