There's always a few games every year that scare me. Games that, if I still printed things out, would highlight with a sense of doom. If psychoanalysts structured studies around college football, the games that scare us define us much more than the games that don't.
In their first two match-ups as conference foes; TCU and Texas Tech made things as gut-wrenching, thrilling - and if you were wearing purple in 2013 and 2014 - as heartbreaking as possible. 2015 was heartbreaking if you were Texas Tech, but in a different way. I'd rather have 82 tacked on me all day over the way TCU lost in 2012, and more so in 2013. Tech needed a miracle rally fox, and a horrendous call against Brandon Carter - arguably two - to seal the victory against the Frogs not 10 days after they were outmuscled and outgunned by LSU in Jerry's World. That's how football goes, and I'm not trying to say TCU deserved to win that game; and besides, last year's victory made up for whatever anger I ever had from it anyway. But don't lie to yourself and say Baker Mayfield won that game - accept it as some crazy weeknight Lubbock magic.
The Last Time They Met
I think we all remember this one quite well. TCU's 82-27 shellacking in 2014 was vengeance, and then some, for the two close games the previous seasons. It was a game that included one of my favorite touchdown strikes of 2014, a 90-plus yarder to Deante' Gray that had about 80 of those yards come after the catch. There was so much scoring in the game, the TCU crew ran out of fireworks.
Tech in 2015
Bad Blood, and Why I'm Worried
We'll get into specifics in a second. This game may not have the spin or the national intrigue of The Revivalry, but make no mistake: there's plenty of bad blood in this one as well.
There's the fan, and even (gasp) fan blog chippiness between these schools. I asked a friend, who went to Texas Tech, why Red Raider fans have a certain disdain for TCU. As a quick sidebar, and I mean this as a compliment: Texas Tech isn't out to make any friends. The reasons for say, their distaste of the University of Texas, would be too obvious to explore. So when I tell you why my friend along with Tech fans hate TCU, it won't surprise you either. We all try to disprove our negative fan stereotypes; but sometimes, we just have to go with it because a predisposed mindset will always see the group as the same.
By all means, a one-on-one conversation between a Tech fan can and should be civil, if not friendly. Through the lens of a group, however, it's easy to see how and why Tech fans see TCU fans as cocky, pretentious, high-minded, pseudo-aristocratic and pseudo-intellectual scum. When this went from an idea in the back of their minds, to a full wildfire of emotion apparently began on a message board where a TCU fan projected all of theses stereotypes in one sweeping post. Basically, said troll came on and said Tech - and Lubbock in general - were below Ft. Worth and that their degree was basically the equivalent of institutions like Full Sail.
Like I said above, I like that Tech isn't out to make friends. Like a true Western narrative, they're the lone outlaw trying to burn the world around them. This is certainly not limited to the blogosphere, such as calling Gary Patterson a "hypocrite" to justify your defense getting a fat 82 put on them. The interesting piece - which was the spiritual sequel to another piece that stated that TCU didn't even have a right to be in the Big 12 - called out Patterson for calling out Mayfield for calling out signals when TCU played Oklahoma, because, possibly, Sonny Cumbie called out signals against Tech. I'm a big boy, I understand why Patterson may not come off as likable, but let's adhere to the timeless advice of catching people with honey and not vinegar - or at least vinegar that actually isn't fraudulent and hamfisted.
TCU also has two former Texas Tech coaches on their team. Newly promoted defensive coordinator Chad Glasgow (who was at TCU before he went to Tech, before coming back to Fort Worth), and the quarterback whisperer himself, Sonny Cumbie. Seriously, what the hell happened between those two? The Tech fans I'm closest with - and why there's more than you'd think, it's still a relatively small sample size - swear that Tech's 4-8 season had nearly as much to do with Cumbie's departure as it did their defense. All signs point to a bad romance between Cumbie and Kingsbury and the former seemed like he was in a hurry to get out of Lubbock.
Should TCU win their opener against Minnesota the Thursday before Labor Day, it should give them the confidence to go out there and get business done against teams who, at least on paper, they should beat. While it's not like having to play Tech in Lubbock on a weeknight a little more than a blink after playing LSU, playing Tech after Stephen F. Austin and SMU is what scares me. Patrick Mahomes--should he start over Davis Webb--is more than capable, and proved why he's *the* starter of that team right now. The TCU defense will still be working their kinks out by that point. A fair balance of running back DeAndre Washington and killer receiver, Jakeem Grant--with a tilt towards Washington--won't be a walk in the park for TCU's semi-rebuilt defense. This is especially the case against with Washington against the face transplant at linebacker. Plus, Mahomes or Webb could also succeed in testing the non-Texada side of the defense, which despite the strong safety corps, might be a problem as Corry O'Meally, while promising, has yet to showcase himself as a starter.
Why It Doesn't Worry Me
Texas Tech, like a bungalow in East Austin, has a lot of potential. But by the time the Red Raiders face TCU, it'll be far from a finished project. Plus, Tech has to play TCU the week after they face an excruciating challenge against a surging Bret Bielema-led Arkansas (YEILD) squad in Fayetteville.
On the other side of the coin: There's Boykin, and rest of the offensive circus, against a Tech secondary that's in dire straits. Oddly enough, in Tuberville's last season--while maintaining the most Passing Yards Per Game--they ranked fifth in Pass Defense Efficiency, first in Total Passing Defense, and with the fifth best rush defense, the Red Raiders were second in total defense that year. So even if Mahomes and Tech, not unlike last year, were able to hang early, this is a scenario where the game ends up being 60-something to 30 in favor of TCU because of that secondary conundrum. Again, even in my small-ish sample size of Tech friends, they're growing wearing of Kingsbury--at the very least in relation to his mammoth extension--just before the 2014 season. Since the Red Raiders beat TCU in Lubbock nearly two years ago; Kliff has gone 9-13--and his only Big 12 wins in 2014 were against the lonely hearts club of Iowa State and Kansas.
TCU also has a great history of shutting down non-quarterback offensive playmakers. 2014 examples include: Maxx Williams , Evan Engram (Ole Miss), Kevin White, and more or less Samaje Perine among others. Somewhat conversely in Tech's case, we know how they play defense--especially as of late. But it's not so much the yards they give up as it is the turnovers they don't get. Tech has had either the worst, or second worst turnover margin in the Big 12 the past three seasons. As Bill Connelly's brilliant preview from the other day states; yes, the Red Raiders to tend to get unlucky. However, you don't do yourself any favors if you don't force turnovers--both from a tactical advantage as well as an emotional one. If Tech were to force a turnover or two against the Frogs, and then strike as quick as they know how to, Lubbock patrons could very well leave the stadium very happy that day. But looking at the shape of their defense right now, it's a tall order.
Tech also tends to be streaky, so if they pull off a semi-miracle against Arkansas, then maybe they can carry that over to the game against the hated Frogs. There's also the vice versa to that statement in which they lose both miserably. However, there's also the more logical tangent if they win in Fayetteville, they'll simply be too tired against a TCU offense that doesn't slow down. This is all riding on a big "if", and that "if", probably won't happen. The Red Raiders have a few wins built in for 2015; Iowa State, Kansas, Sam Houston, UTEP: However, if Tech can get a win against TCU, or more likely, a win against Texas in Austin on Thanksgiving--whom they haven't beat since 2008--consider it a big step back in the right direction, for Kliff and Company.
Score Prediction: TCU 63, Texas Tech 35
Coming off a stinger of a loss against Arkansas; The Tech offense (sort of) hangs in early. The Frogs take a 35-21 lead going into halftime before really stepping on the gas in the second half, and completely dominate on both sides of the ball before the Red Raiders convert two garbage time touchdowns in the 4th quarter.