Texas Tech football: Best rebound seasons in program history

LUBBOCK, TX - SEPTEMBER 18: A general view of Jones AT
LUBBOCK, TX - SEPTEMBER 18: A general view of Jones AT /
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1953: 11-1

The first time most people outside of Texas took notice of Texas Tech football was in 1953 when the Red Raiders went 11-1.  And making one of the most impressive seasons in program history even more remarkable is the fact that in 1952, the Red Raiders put together just a 3-7-1 record.

The only teams Tech managed to beat in 1952 were West Texas State, Arizona, and NC State.  What’s more, the Red Raiders somehow managed to tie Hardin Simmons 14-14.

But the next season, Tech scored wins over Oklahoma A&M (now Oklahoma State), Mississippi State, Arizona, Tulsa, and Houston among others.  The only loss that season was a 27-14 defeat at the hands of Texas A&M in Lubbock.

After a 10-1 regular season, No. 14 Tech was rewarded with a trip to the Gator Bowl on New Years Day 1954 to face No. 17 Auburn.  This was the first-ever nationally televised Red Radier football game giving fans across the country their first exposure to the university and the football program.

Also in that game, Masked Rider made its first appearance as the school’s official mascot.  Leading the team onto the field in dramatic fashion at the request of head coach DeWitt Weaver.  Perhaps buoyed by their dramatic new entrance, the Red Raiders crushed the Tigers 35-13.

Following the game, Ed Danforth, a writer for the Atlanta Journal and a press box spectator later wrote, “No team in any bowl game ever made a more sensational entrance.”  Not only was the 1953 season the greatest single-season turnaround in terms of win total, but it also birthed the most beloved tradition in the history of Texas Tech football.