Has the magic returned to Jones AT&T Stadium? Is playing Texas Tech in Lubbock again one of the most dreaded tasks in college football? For the upcoming season to be as successful as many are hoping, those questions need to be answered in the affirmative.
For years, playing in Lubbock was something that visiting teams feared. Since Tech joined the Southwest Conference in 1960, Jones Stadium has been a house of horrors for high-profile and ranked teams.
That was especially true in the Mike Leach era when the atmosphere at The Jones was electric helping propel the Red Raiders to marquee wins over the likes of A&M, Nebraska, Texas, and Oklahoma with regularity. Unfortunately, though, over the past decade, Tech was unable to keep the mystique alive when playing at home.
In fact, from 2013 (the start of the Kliff Kingsbury era) to 2021 (the end of the Matt Wells era) Tech was just 13-27 in Lubbock against teams from a Power 5 conference. That included a stretch from 2016-2018 in which the Red Raiders managed only two home Big 12 wins and both were against Kansas.
However, 2022 saw that trend start to reverse itself. In fact, in Joey McGuire’s debut season, Tech went 6-1 overall in Lubbock and 4-1 in league play. What’s more, last season also gave us a home win over a Houston team that came into the week-two contest at Jones Stadium ranked 25th in the nation.
Of course, the two marquee wins from that group were the overtime wins over Texas and Oklahoma. It marked the first time in program history that the Red Raiders had taken down the Horns and Sooners in the same season and, make no mistake, each of those triumphs was critical in helping endear McGuire to a fanbase that had become fed up with losing games on their home turf.
This year, Tech will have another intriguing slate of games in Lubbock. Oregon, Kansas State, and TCU all come to town and all are ranked inside the top 20 in the preseason poll.
Also, contests with Houston and Central Florida, two of the four new members of the conference, will be intriguing. The Cougars have history with Tech as former conference rivals in the S.W.C. and the Knights are expected to be one of the more dangerous mid-tier teams in the conference.
If Tech can again make Jones Stadium a house of horrors for visitors, then there will be an opportunity to make noise in the conference title race. What will help is that we already know that the Oregon and TCU games will take place at night meaning two of the season’s biggest swing games will be played in front of an absolutely juiced crowd.
So let’s break down the home schedule and rank the games by difficulty. Of course, there’s no surprise as to which game will be the easiest.