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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(Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
(Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images) /

1972: 8-4

Old school Texas Tech football fans know that the 1973 season was arguably the best in school history as the Red Raiders went 11-1 including a huge win over Tennessee in the Gator Bowl.  But the foundation for that season was laid in 1972 when Tech put together an 8-4 record, a four-game improvement over the previous season.

1971 was a struggle for Tech.  Going just 4-8 with losses at home to New Mexico and Rice as well as road losses at Tulane, Texas, SMU, TCU, and Arkansas, the Red Raiders were a disappointment after an 8-win 1970 season.

But in that season, QB Joe Barnes got invaluable experience in his first year as a collegiate.  And in 1972, the junior led the Red Raiders to a fantastic rebound season.

Throwing for 1,142 yards and four touchdowns while rushing for 510 yards and four more scores, he was the spearhead of the Red Raider attack.  He was one of five Red Raiders to run for at least 400 yards on the season, three of which were on the 1971 team that took its lumps.

Tech opened the year with a blowout win over Utah in Lubbock and a dominating performance against New Mexico in Albuquerque.  In both games, the Red Raiders topped the 40-point mark.

After losing to No. 12 Texas in game-three by just five points, the Red Raiders reeled off five-straight wins against Tulsa, A&M, Arizona, SMU, and Rice.  But the season did not finish on a high note.

The Red Raiders would win just one of their final four games.  After being blown out by TCU in Lubbock 31-7, Tech took down Baylor 13-7 in Waco before falling to Arkansas in Lubbock and losing the Sun Bowl to North Carolina 32-28.

With a 4-3 record in Southwest Conference games, Tech was tied for second in the conference with SMU.  And given that three of the four losses that season came by ten points or fewer, the Red Raiders were on the cusp of truly breaking through a year earlier than they ultimately did in when they made some serious national noise in 1973.