As the Texas Tech football team gets set to open the 2020 season against Houston Baptist on Saturday, these are the storylines we will be watching.
Any season opener is special. But one that comes after six months without any Texas Tech sporting event, as will be the case with this Saturday’s football game against Houston Baptist, is even more significant.
Finally, we will be able to celebrate the return of Red Raider athletics to our lives. In a time when so many of the joys that we’ve come to count on to help us through the drudgery of the day-to-day have been stolen from us by a global pandemic, being able to sit down and watch a live Texas Tech football game feels like a blessing from on high.
It doesn’t even matter that the opponent is an FCS program that has been playing football for only seven seasons. Nor does it matter that said opponent has never won more than five games in any of those seasons.
Every year, Tech is going to face a team from the lower division of the sport. It’s simply how business is done in the NCAA these days as even powerhouses like Alabama and Clemson do the same.
So if we are going to have to watch the Red Raiders run circles around a team with little chance of competing, it is preferable for that to take place in the season opener so that there is still some excitement surrounding a game that is likely to devolve into a glorified scrimmage.
Such was the case last year when Montana State came to Lubbock to open the Matt Wells era. That day, the Red Raiders looked sharp in a 45-10 victory that saw Alan Bowman pass for 436 yards and two TDs as he made his first start after suffering his second collapsed lung back in November of 2018.
Back in 2017, many fans were actually worried that Eastern Washington might give Tech a scare in the season opener. Given that the Eagles are a perennial contender in the FCS and were coming off of a trip to the FCS semifinals, some fans around Lubbock feared being upset by EWU the way Oregon State and Washington State had been in recent years. But no such dramatics were in store that day as the Red Raiders dominated the season opener to the tune of a 56-10 victory.
A year earlier, Pat Mahomes led Tech to a 69-17 drubbing of another FCS power, Stephen F. Austin, in the 2016 opener. That day, the future NFL MVP threw for 483 yards while also leading his team on the ground with 57 yards.
In all, Tech has opened 8 of the last 11 seasons with an FCS opponent, including 2020. The only one of those games thus far to have been up for grabs was 2014’s 42-35 win over Arkansas State.
But while these FCS games often lack intrigue on the scoreboard, they still provide us with some intriguing storylines to watch as we get our first look at the latest version of Texas Tech football. So let’s look at some storylines we will be monitoring come Saturday night when Tech welcomes Houston Baptist to Lubbock.