This could be a make-or-break year for head coach Kliff Kingsbury and the Red Raiders.
Despite having the nation’s leading passer in Patrick Mahomes, the Red Raiders went 5-7 and missed out on a bowl game. Their defense was the worst in the country statistically and couldn’t keep up with the elite teams of the Big 12.
Can Texas Tech get back to the postseason this season? Here’s a game-by-game preview for the Red Raiders’ 2017 season.
Texas Tech vs. Eastern Washington: Sept 2
Eastern Washington was among the elite teams in the FCS last season, going 12-2 overall. But a loss at home to the Eagles would start a crucial season for Kingsbury on a sour note. Expect Texas Tech to come out firing and grab an encouraging win in front of the home crowd.
Prediction: Texas Tech 49, Eastern Washington 35
Texas Tech vs. Arizona State: Sept. 16
The Sun Devils beat Texas Tech 68-55 in Tempe last season, but the Red Raiders have home field advantage this time. Coming off an early-season bye, Texas Tech gets revenge on Arizona State to improve to 2-0 as the defense shows signs of improvement.
Prediction: Texas Tech 42, Arizona State 28
Texas Tech at Houston: Sept. 23
The Tom Herman era is over in Houston, and starting quarterback Greg Ward is gone. Texas Tech has the chance to take advantage of a transitioning Houston team to begin the season 3-0. The Red Raiders win their first road game, and Lubbock is feeling good.
Prediction: Texas Tech 45, Houston 30
Texas Tech vs. Oklahoma State: Sept. 30
The schedule does Texas Tech no favors, as it opens Big 12 play against one the league’s premier teams. Texas Tech’s offense sputters after a hot start, and the defense shows its flaws as Oklahoma State makes quick work of the Red Raiders.
Prediction: Oklahoma State 52, Texas Tech 35
Texas Tech at Kansas: Oct. 7
After a demoralizing loss, Texas Tech gets back on track with a victory over the Jayhawks. Quarterback Nic Shimonek has one of his better days of the season, while the defense looks a lot better after a poor showing against Oklahoma State.
Prediction: Texas Tech 59, Kansas 21
Texas Tech at West Virginia: Oct. 14
A trip to Morgantown won’t go well for the Red Raiders. A win here would do wonders for Texas Tech, but the Red Raiders just aren’t talented enough on defense to beat the Mountaineers on the road.
Prediction: West Virginia 45, Texas Tech 28
Texas Tech vs. Iowa State: Oct. 21
One of Texas Tech’s most baffling losses last season was as 66-10 loss to Iowa State in Ames. But this season the Cyclones have to come to Lubbock for Texas Tech’s homecoming. The Red Raiders get revenge for last season’s embarrassment behind their home crowd.
Prediction: Texas Tech 62, Iowa State 20
Texas Tech at Oklahoma: Oct. 28
Texas Tech’s struggles against the Big 12’s elite teams won’t end here. Mahomes threw for 734 yards against the Sooners in Lubbock last year, but the Red Raider defense couldn’t stop Baker Mayfield. Mahomes won’t be around to keep Texas Tech in the game, and if the defense couldn’t stop Mayfield in Lubbock, it won’t be able to slow him down in Norman.
Prediction: Oklahoma 65, Texas Tech 31
Texas Tech vs. Kansas State: Nov. 4
Kansas State beat Texas Tech in a close 44-38 game last season. This is a very winnable game for the Red Raiders at home, but don’t underestimate Bill Snyder and the Wildcats’ ability to give teams headaches. Texas Tech loses a close game at home as the season continues to be a roller coaster.
Prediction: Kansas State 35, Texas Tech 31
Texas Tech at Baylor: Nov. 11
The Red Raiders ended their season on a high note last year by beating the Bears at AT&T Stadium. The rematch, again at AT&T Stadium, will be critical for both teams battling for a spot in a bowl game. Kingsbury and the Red Raiders will beat Baylor again to earn their sixth win of the season.
Prediction: Texas Tech 52, Baylor 41
Texas Tech vs. TCU: Nov. 18
With six wins and bowl eligibility already in hand, the Red Raiders will return to Lubbock for their final home game. But that could be the recipe for a letdown against a scrappy Horned Frogs team that is looking to bolster their final record.
Prediction: TCU 31, Texas Tech 28
Texas Tech at Texas: Nov. 24
The Longhorns will finish up their first regular season of the Tom Herman era at home against the Red Raiders. Texas will look completely different under Herman than it did under Charlie Strong, and the Longhorns should have found their stride by this point the season. Expect the Red Raiders to fall in the regular season finale.
Prediction: Texas 38, Texas Tech 30
End of season prediction: Texas Tech finishes the season at 6-6, which is good enough to make a third bowl game under Kingsbury. Nic Shimonek won’t be as good as Mahomes at quarterback, but the Red Raider offense should still put up points while the defense shows some improvement. If Texas Tech wins its bowl game, that should be enough for Kingsbury keep his job.
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