Scheduling played a huge role in Kliff Kingsbury’s first season as the head coach at Texas Tech.
He began his career with seven straight wins but didn’t win a single game over a team who went to a bowl game last season. Then Texas Tech faced Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Kansas State, Baylor and Texas over the final month of the regular season, and lost all five contests. The Red Raiders came up short in every game they played against a bowl team (until the actual bowl game).
The season-ending Holiday Bowl upset over Arizona State, a team that posted the best record in the Pac-12 last year, has buoyed expectations for Kingsbury and Texas Tech in 2014. The second-year coach has his quarterback situation settled with Davis Webb already named the starter and, with a more balanced schedule this year, could show improvement over the 4-5 Big 12 record from last year.
2014 Texas Tech Schedule Analysis
S-E-C, S-E-C, S-E-C
The non-conference slate features Central Arkansas and a road trip to UTEP, both of which should be easy wins for Texas Tech. A visit from SEC program Arkansas in Week 3, however, provides some serious intrigue. The Razorbacks were winless (0-8) in the SEC last year but are still talented and physical. A convincing win over an SEC team is something to celebrate no matter how good or bad the opponent is. A 3-0 non-conference mark is likely and Texas Tech fans will know a lot more about this team by Week 3.
Road trips to start Big 12
Tech starts Big 12 play with back-to-back road trips to Stillwater and Manhattan. Oklahoma State won the Big 12 title in 2011 and was one play away from winning the league last year. Kansas State won the Big 12 title in 2012 and is eyeing another run at the crown this season. Tech lost to both teams last year and allowed a total of 101 points against the Pokes and Wildcats. An 0-2 start to the season would be a disappointing start to conference play this year but may be likely. Ok-State is rebuilding more than KSU and an upset in the Big 12 opener on the road with two weeks to prepare could launch Texas Tech into a great season because…
October provides wins
Should Tech figure out a way to split with Oklahoma State and Kansas State on the road, things set up nicely for the Red Raiders to make a strong run in October. West Virginia and Kansas at home are must wins and should pose little threat to Texas Tech in Lubbock. The month wraps up with a road trip to TCU — another shot at a key upset — following a bye weekend. On a side note, the Xs and Os battle between Gary Patterson’s defense and Kingsbury’s offense should be must-see TV every year.
Should the Red Raiders make it to November still in Big 12 contention, the final month of the season should provide plenty of fireworks. Texas Tech will host both Texas and league favorite Oklahoma in back-to-back games with an off weekend between the two. This gives two weeks for Kingsbury to prepare for the Sooners. A long road trip to a distant Big 12 outpost (Ames) is the only comfort in the final month as a neutral site game in Arlington with Baylor looms on the final weekend.
There is a good chance that 2014 has a similar path for Kingsbury as '13 did, although, it won’t be nearly as lopsided. There are a lot of wins to be had in the first three months of the season and with one upset (Oklahoma State, for example), Tech could be right in the thick of the Big 12 title race entering November. With three of the best teams in the league on the schedule in the final month, it’s this part of the schedule that will define the Red Raiders' season.