At 4-3 on the season, the Texas Tech football team appears to be set up for a strong finish to the season. Entering this weekend’s contest with Baylor, the Red Raiders are as healthy as they have been since opening weekend and they have three of the final five games at home.
However, to finish the year on the type of upswing that would carry significant momentum into the offseason, Joey McGuire and his team are going to have to figure out how to do something that this program hasn’t managed to accomplish since 2018; win consecutive Big 12 games.
Of course, that can be accomplished by beating the Bears this weekend on the heels of Tech’s 48-10 drubbing of West Virginia last Saturday. However, recent history isn’t on Tech’s side.
This year, the Red Raiders have won back-to-back games only once, the first two games of the season against Murray State and Houston. Those teams are a combined 4-11 on the season taking some of the shine off of those two wins.
Since then, it has been an up-and-down ride for the Red Raiders. What’s more, it’s been nearly impossible for Tech to pick up any Big 12 momentum over the past four-plus seasons.
The last time this program managed to win two conference games in a row was in October of 2018. That year, Tech squeaked out a 17-14 win at TCU and then turned around and walloped Kansas 48-16 in Lubbock.
Since then, Tech has had eight opportunities to win two straight Big 12 games in a season. That’s a disturbingly low number of conference wins for a program to have over the course of four-and-a-half seasons in the first place. But the fact that Tech hasn’t managed to win two league games in a row during that span is both puzzling and maddening.
Interestingly four of those opportunities have come at Jones Stadium. In 2019, Tech beat West Virginia in Morgantown before a home game against TCU. Unfortunately, a late Red Raider fumble would kill a potential game-winning drive as the Frogs would prevail 33-31.
In 2020, the Red Raiders would beat West Virginia in Lubbock 34-27. However, the next week, No. 24 Oklahoma came to town and punished Tech 62-28.
Following last season’s 23-20 win over West Virginia in Morgantown, Tech returned home to face TCU again. Unfortunately, the Frogs would run all over the Red Raiders in a 52-31 win that wasn’t even as close as the final score would indicate.
Then, Tech would topple Iowa State in Lubbock 41-38 on the famous 62-yard field goal by Jonathan Garibay. However, the next week, Oklahoma State would come to Jones Stadium and blank the Red Raiders 23-0.
Now, Tech has put itself in a position to finally end this dubious streak by winning a home game. What’s more, the fact that this game will be played at night should give Tech an added boost. Additionally, the induction of Patrick Mahomes into the team’s Ring of Honor will bring even more energy to the crowd on Saturday.
Will that be enough to push Tech to a second-straight home win? Baylor’s track record this year might suggest so.
This year, the Bears are just 1-2 on the road. They have losses at BYU, a team that is just 4-4 on the season after beginning the year in the top 25, and at West Virginia, a team that is just 3-4 this year.
What’s more, their lone road win came at Iowa State. Now, Ames is no easy place to play. However, this year’s version of the Cyclones leaves plenty to be desired as Matt Campbell’s team is just 3-4 on the year and 0-4 in Big 12 play.
There is no denying that Tech is going to have to figure out a way to buck this frustrating trend if McGuire is going to reshape this program into a true contender. Tech can’t continue to ride the up-and-down rollercoaster in Big 12 play and expect to be anything more than just a middling program that is simply trying to keep its head above .500.
It will be fascinating to see what happens this weekend in Lubbock as Tech looks to even the all-time series with Baylor. More importantly, though, this game represents another opportunity for the Texas Tech football program to finally show that it is capable of even the most modest of Big 12 winning streaks. If that happens, perhaps a longer streak could be in store for McGuire and Co. leading to the type of finish to the season that will have people around the Big 12 talking about Tech football in a positive light throughout the offseason for the first time in years.