The Austin Chronicle

Red Raiders Look to Test Longhorns

By Justin Sanders, October 31, 2008, 3:30pm, The Score

I was raised by mother who was a graduate of the University of Texas, so therefore growing up I was a Longhorn fan. I grew up hating Texas A&M, Oklahoma, and of course Arkansas, but never really gave much thought to Texas Tech. That is until I was accepted to attend Texas Tech University and walked on for the Red Raiders football team. It didn’t end famously (let’s just say there was no Heisman speech), but while I was there I did learn to hate the Longhorns … at least for one game a year.

Ever since Texas Tech was invited to join the Southwest Conference, Texas has kicked their ass. Sure there have been some upsets during that time, but for the most part Tech has been like Texas’ little brother flailing away with their fists as the Longhorns calmly held them at arms length before delivering the crushing blow. Every year when the Horns would play the Red Raiders I would throw on my red and black and prepare for three hours of compliments from UT fans like “I’m just hoping for a close game.” And “If you guys had a defense y'all would be dangerous.” The dominance in the rivalry got so bad that this year one UT fan actually told me, “Y'all better not ruin our chance at a National Championship damn it.” Well, just in case no one has noticed, Tech’s undefeated too and also has a shot at the National Championship. Granted Tech’s odds to win it all are a bit longer, but I think that it’s safe to say that this in-state rivalry no longer resembles a battle between a hammer and a nail.

What’s frustrating for this Red Raider is that this was supposed to be the year that Texas Tech finally had the upper hand in the battle for Texas (sorry Aggies but your team suuuuucks). The game was in Lubbock, Tech had 17 starters returning on offense and defense and Texas was supposed to be in a “rebuilding year." Unfortunately, as I’ve said in previous columns, Texas is in anything but a rebuilding year and after defeating three ranked teams in the past three weeks, anything less than a perfect game from Tech on Saturday and it’s going to result in another three hours of back slaps and backhanded compliments like, “Texas is just too good this year, but you guys should still get invited to a decent bowl game.”

The game itself will be interesting, because even though both Texas and Tech feature high-powered offenses led by Heisman Trophy candidates, the key to victory will be whichever team’s defense can step up to the challenge. I’m sure you’re thinking to yourself, “There’s no way in hell this crackpot is comparing Tech’s defense to UT's?” And you're right, I’m not. What I am saying is that Texas Tech’s offense is just as dangerous as Oklahoma’s and I don’t think anyone in Austin has forgotten the 35 points the Horns gave up in the Cotton Bowl. Sure the Longhorns won the game, but there were two instances where the Horns trailed by 10 points and things could’ve gotten ugly had it not been for the heroics of the offense and special teams. On the other side of the ball, while Tech’s defense can take pride in shutting down a formidable Kansas offense, they must admit that there is a significant difference between facing Todd Reesing and Colt McCoy. Both are exceptional passers, but what makes McCoy so dangerous is that this year he’s also been running the football like Vince Young’s long lost little white brother. If Tech is going to have any hope of beating Texas on Saturday then the first line of business will have to be stopping Colt McCoy.

So even though the Horns are favored, UT fans would be wise not to overlook Texas Tech because this year the Longhorns aren’t the only team in town with dreams of an undefeated season. For Tech fans the good news is that the Red Raiders are for real, they’re hungry and they’ll be playing in front of a crowd of Alumni that have been waiting a long time to cheer for a national contender. The bad news is that they’ll be playing a team with the – well earned – No. 1 ranking in the country and a history of handing Tech the short end of the stick. It’s a big game to say the least and in the Battle for Texas, this year I’ll admit I’m not hoping for a “close game.” I don’t want care if Tech “still gets invited to a decent bowl game.” This year, I want it all, but in order to get there Tech needs to get past the dreaded Texas Longhorns.

Copyright © 2023 Austin Chronicle Corporation. All rights reserved.