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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1989: 9-3

Only twice in his career at Tech did Spike Dykes win nine games in a season.  The first time was in 1989 when his team had an improvement of four games.

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Making this turnaround rather unlikely was the fact that the Red Raiders had to replace Tolliver, one of the better QBs in program history up to that point after he graduated in 1988.  But fortunately for Dykes, he had one of the best running backs in the nation to pick up the slack.

Senior running back James Gray galloped his way to 1,509 yards and 18 touchdowns on his way to second-team All-American honors.  And a guy modern-day football fans know as the head coach of the Los Angeles Chargers, Anthony Lynn, added 588 yards and six more scores.

The season opened on a high note with a win over No. 20 Arizona in Lubbock.  Wins over New Mexico and Oklahoma State followed as the Red Raiders got out of the gates 3-0.

After a road loss to Baylor, Tech clipped No. 19 A&M 27-24 in Lubbock (Spike was good at taking down the Aggies).  But the momentum did not last long as the Red Raiders lost to No. 7 Arkansas.

However, four-straight wins, including a road win over No. 22 Texas, saw Tech jump up to No. 18 in the polls.  But a loss to No. 18 Houston in the regular-season finale in Lubbock put a disappointing punctuation mark on the end of a surprisingly good year.

Dykes then did something that endeared himself to Red Raider fans across the board.  He won a bowl game.

Beating No. 20 Duke 49-21 in the All-American Bowl, Dykes brought the Red Raiders their first bowl win since 1973.  What’s more, it was just the program’s fourth bowl win in 17 tries.

Next. Tech storms past OU on the day the "Air Raid" was born. dark

What’s hard to believe is that by winning eight games in the regular season, Tech finished only fourth in the SWC race with a 5-3 record.  That goes to show just how solid the old Southwest Conference was at that time.  But in getting to nine wins, the Red Raiders surprised plenty of people around that nation and won more games than any Red Raider team in 13 years.