Game 2 vs. Houston
This year’s nonconference schedule gives Tech little margin for error. Yes, the opener against Murray State of the FCS should be a walk in the park but the next two games will be more than a bit challenging.
The week two game vs. Houston in Lubbock is going to be a massive turning point in this season regardless of how it turns out. But make no mistake, the Red Raiders can’t afford to drop this contest to their future conference rival.
If Tech can take down the Cougars, they will guarantee that they will go into Big 12 play no worse than 2-1. That would mean that they could still have a losing conference record and reach a bowl game. (Remember, Tech hasn’t had a winning conference record since 2009.)
But if things go the other way on September 10th, Tech will then have to win at No. 13 NC State in week three to avoid a 1-2 start to the season. And given how daunting the start of Big 12 play will be for Tech, a solid non-conference showing is a must.
In the first three games of Big 12 play, Tech will host Texas (which the Red Raiders haven’t beaten in Lubbock since 2008) before traveling to Kansas State (where Tech hasn’t won since 2008) and No. 11 Oklahoma State.
Thus, if Tech falls to Houston, there is a reasonable chance that the season could begin with the Red Raiders going 1-5. That would be a disaster.
Tech has won its last four games against Houston dating back to the 2010 season. That includes the 38-21 Red Raider win in Houston to open last season.
What’s more, the Cougars have beaten Tech only once since 1991 and haven’t won in Lubbock since 1990. Those trends need to continue this year because the Red Raiders can’t afford to drop their early-season showdown with their future Big 12 rivals.