No. 2: vs. Oklahoma in 2018
It’s only fitting that we include on this countdown a game that Bowman left early due to injury. It’s also a game that we will forever look back upon and wonder “What if?”.
In 2018, when No. 7 Oklahoma came to Lubbock, the then true freshman had one of the greatest halves of football that any Red Raider QB has ever played. In fact, through the first 30 minutes of play, he was outshining eventual Heisman Trophy recipient Kyler Murray.
Helping the Red Raiders to a 31-28 halftime advantage, Bowman was 21-26 for 227 yards and a pair of TDs with no picks.
But near the end of the first half, Bowman’s head coach, Kliff Kingsbury, made one of the most head-scratching decisions of his career and one that would forever alter the course of Texas Tech football. On first-and-goal from the OU five, Kingsbury called for a QB sweep that asked Bowman to do what he isn’t equipped to do…run the ball.
As Bowman neared the sidelines, he was absolutely belted by a Sooner defensive player causing the Tech QB to sustain a reoccurrence of the collapsed lung injury that had forced him to miss two and a half games earlier in the year. Though Bowman would someone stay in the game and finish the half (even attempting a pass on the next play), he would not return after halftime and Tech would eventually fall 51-46 costing Kingsbury an opportunity to pick up a desperately-needed top-10 victory at home.
Why Kingsbury decided to put a QB who was just a month removed from a collapsed lung in harm’s way by asking him to run the ball in space will forever be a question that Tech fans have to wrestle with and that decision is one that directly led to Kingsbury’s firing at the end of that season as Tech would end the season on a five-game losing streak to miss out on bowl eligibility.
But for one half of that game, Bowman outplayed a QB who would eventually be taken No. 1 in the NFL Draft in Murray and it’s hard to fathom any QB playing a better thirty minutes of football. On pace for 454 yards and four TDs at the time he went down, Bowman was at his best that night against the Sooners. But that game proved to be a microcosm of his Red Raider career as an injury cut short what had so much promise leaving us all to forever contemplate “What if?”.