Texas Tech football: Beating Cyclones would be huge step forward for Matt Wells

LUBBOCK, TEXAS - OCTOBER 05: Head coach Matt Wells of the Texas Tech Red Raiders poses with his family after the victory against the Oklahoma State Cowboys on October 05, 2019 at Jones AT&T Stadium in Lubbock, Texas. (Photo by John E. Moore III/Getty Images)
LUBBOCK, TEXAS - OCTOBER 05: Head coach Matt Wells of the Texas Tech Red Raiders poses with his family after the victory against the Oklahoma State Cowboys on October 05, 2019 at Jones AT&T Stadium in Lubbock, Texas. (Photo by John E. Moore III/Getty Images) /

If new Texas Tech football head coach Matt Wells can lead his team to a win over Iowa State on Saturday, it would be a huge sign of progress for his program.

We’ve already reached the half-way point of the 2019 Texas Tech football season and to say the least, the last week has been a bumpy ride.  Following a controversial loss to Baylor on Saturday, the conversation among the Red Raider fan base has been centered around what the botched call in overtime cost the Red Raiders down in Waco.

But now that the Big 12 and Kirby Hocutt have likely fired their final salvos in the spat that has centered around the Texas Tech AD’s public acknowledgment of a little secret that conference wanted to keep private, the focus for everyone in scarlet and black needs to tun to the opportunity that lies in front of Matt Wells’ team.

Despite playing the last three games without starting QB Alan Bowman, Tech finds itself at 3-3 overall and 1-2 in league play.  Thus, there is every opportunity for this team to reach its primary goal for the season, a bowl appearance.

Of course, the Red Raiders can move one step closer to earning a 13th game by knocking off Iowa State Saturday in Lubbock.  But beating the Cyclones is something the program has found increasingly difficult in recent years.

Tech has dropped the last three games in this series by an average margin of 27.3 points.  And at 4-2 overall with back-to-back double-digit conference wins under their belt, the Cyclones are far from the typical homecoming sacrificial lamb, a role which they have been cast into this weekend.

But should the home team manage to hold up its end of the homecoming bargain this week, consider just how huge of a boost the Red Raiders would receive.  After all, if there was ever a program ready to circle the wagons and make a statement, it should be this one.

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Though the coaches and players inside the football facility have not been afforded the luxury of dwelling on the way the Baylor game was unfairly taken from them, they most certainly have not forgotten.  That has to provide extra motivation for them to come out and make a statement this weekend by handing the team picked to finish 3rd in the Big 12 preseason poll its third loss of the year.

Should that happen, there will be several factors working to give Wells momentum as he continues his reclamation project.  The most important would unquestionably be the fact that Chris Beard’s promise of a block party for students should Tech be undefeated at home this year would still be alive.

Along those lines, Wells would have notched his second-straight impressive home win after beating No. 21 Oklahoma State at Jones Stadium two games ago.  Bringing back the enthusiasm and passion that the home faithful once brought to each game isn’t going to come by way of beer sales, lower concession prices, new in-game bits on the video board, or anything else short of consistently winning meaningful games at the corner of Marsha Sharp and Broadway.

Prior to this year’s win over Oklahoma State, we had gone almost four calendar years since seeing a Big 12 team other than Kansas leave Lubbock with a loss.  Now, with that awful streak put to rest, it is time to start getting back to the place where this program once again enjoys one of the best home-field advantages in the conference.  That starts by stringing together significant conference wins, which could happen this week.

What’s more, the second half of the schedule looks to be set up for a strong finish to the season.  That’s something we’ve not seen from the Red Raiders in far too long.

Once the Iowa State game is behind us, Tech will have faced four of the six teams predicted to finish ahead of them in the preseason poll.  WIth only TCU and Texas from the top-6 left on the schedule following this weekend, the Red Raiders could be a team that finishes with a surge, especially if they can defeat the Cyclones.

Next week, Tech heads to Lawrence to face a Kansas team that is just 2-4 overall and has deopped its three Big 12 games thus far by over 22 points per game.  Following that, a trip to Morgantown awaits.  The Mountaineers are always tough at home but they are not as formidable in year one of the Neal Brown experience as they have been in recent seasons.  Picked to finish 8th in the Big 12, West Virginia is a team that the Red Raiders should fully expect to beat, even in the hills of Appalachia.

Back-to-back home games against the purple teams, TCU and Kansas State, then precede the season finale at Texas.  That’s a 3-game stretch that the Red Raiders should expect to go 2-1 in, especially given how pedestrian the Wildcats and Horned Frogs have been on offense in Big 12 play.

Step back and think about what at least a 4-2 finish to the season would mean in year-one of the Wells era.  It would equal the regular-season win total that the three previous head Red Raider head coaches (Kingsbury, Tuberville, and Leach) had in their debut seasons and would out-pace what Spike Dykes did in his first campaign at the helm.

Additionally, it would give the program five conference wins for the first time since 2009.  And should Tech manage to win a bowl game to get to eight wins, it would make Wells just the 5th head coach in program history to win 8 games in his first season (joining Kingsbury, Tuberville, Jim Carlen, Dell Morgan, and Pete Cawthorn).

Most importantly, that would give this program something it has not had since the end of the 2013 season, optimism.  In between the first and second Kingsbury seasons, this fan base was as enthusiastic as it has been since the final three years of the Leach run.  In fact, in 2014 Tech set a record for season ticket sales.

We are a long way from seeing that type of fervor from the Red Raider faithful and given that Matt Wells is not a former Texas Tech hero with Hollywood looks, even an 8-win season likely wouldn’t generate the type of buzz that the 2013 season did.  Still, any type of tangible progress from this program is sorely needed.

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That’s what the Red Raiders can take another step towards giving the fan base on Saturday.  By putting last weekend’s injustice behind them and beating a program that has given them fits in recent years, Wells’ team can make tremendous progress towards getting Texas Tech football back to where we all want it to be.