Game Preview: Tech readies for No. 24 Houston

LUBBOCK, Texas – The ante rises this weekend as the 2022 Texas Tech home football slate continues with No. 24 Houston, Saturday at 3 p.m. It will be the first nationally-ranked nonconference opponent to visit Jones AT&T Stadium since 2002 when the Phillip Rivers-led NC State Wolfpack came to town. Tech had its largest home crowd last Saturday since its 2018 matchup versus Texas and its most attended home opener since 2016, to insure entry into the Houston game, visit TexasTech.com/tickets (use code LABORDAY for $20 tickets).

Television coverage will be provided by FS1 with Tim Brando behind the mic alongside his longtime analyst Spencer Tillman. Fans can access the game from their mobile or streaming device by using the FOX Sports app.

Texas Tech Sports Network will also broadcast the game over 46 affiliates throughout the state of Texas and New Mexico as Brian Jensen will have the call alongside analyst John Harris and sideline reporter Chris Level. The radio broadcast can also be heard on SiriusXM channel 136 or 200, as well as on the Varsity app.

FUTURE BIG 12 FOES TO MEET SATURDAY

  • Texas Tech and Houston will meet for the 34th time and the final time as non-conference opponents Saturday afternoon at Jones AT&T Stadium as the Cougars are set to join the Big 12 Conference prior to the 2023 season. 
  • Texas Tech has won four-straight in the series and nine of the last 10 meetings, including a come-from-behind 38-21 victory a year ago to start the 2021 campaign at the Texas Kickoff in NRG Stadium. The Red Raiders rallied behind four takeaways and 134 rushing yards and two touchdowns on the ground from Tahj Brooks to score 31-unanswered points to erase a 21-7 halftime deficit in the win.

RED RAIDERS LOOKING FOR FIFTH-STRAIGHT WIN OVER COUGARS

  • Texas Tech and Houston will meet for the 34th time in program history Saturday as the Cougars lead the all-time series with an 18-14-1 advantage. The Red Raiders enter this weekend having won nine of the last 10 games versus the Cougars, including each of the past four meetings. A win over Houston on Saturday would match the longest winning streak for Texas Tech all-time in the series. 
  • This will be the sixth meeting between the Red Raiders and Cougars since the Southwest Conference disbanded following the 1995 season. Texas Tech is 4-1 in those games with wins in 2010 at home (35-20), in 2017 at Houston (27-24), in 2018 at home (63-49) and in 2021 in the Texas Kickoff at NRG Stadium (38-21).  
  • This is the final contest in a four-game contract between Texas Tech and Houston that started with the 2017 season. The two schools will meet more regularly in years to come as the Cougars will become Big 12 Conference members starting with the 2023 season.

TEXAS TECH AGAINST RANKED OPPONENTS

  • The Red Raiders will be looking to knock off a top-25 opponent for the first time since the 2019 season Saturday against No. 24 Houston. Texas Tech’s last win over a top-25 team came early in the 2019 campaign when the Red Raiders surprised No. 21 Oklahoma State with a 45-35 victory inside Jones AT&T Stadium. Houston was ranked 24th in the preseason Associated Press and 25th in the AFCA coaches’ poll. Both polls will release their updated rankings Tuesday. 
  • If the Cougars remain in the national rankings, it will mark the first time Texas Tech has faced a top-25 foe in non-conference play since falling at No. 17 Houston, 29-28, early in the 2009 season (bowls not included). A victory over the Cougars would mark Texas Tech’s first over a ranked non-conference opponent since defeating No. 20 Arizona, 24-14, at home to start the 1989 season. Texas Tech has lost 13-consecutive regular-season games against ranked non-conference opponents since the Arizona win in 1989.

 

Texas Tech football

 

MCGUIRE VICTORIOUS IN DEBUT

  • There might not have been a more ideal start to the Joey McGuire era than Texas Tech’s 63-10 rout over Murray State last weekend that marked the largest margin of victory for a head coach making his debut in school history. Texas Tech’s 63 points were also easily the most for a debuting head coach in program history.
  • Texas Tech utilized 71 players in the rout, giving McGuire the opportunity to utilize many of his younger developmental athletes on both sides of the ball in the second half. The win matched the largest margin of victory all-time for Texas Tech in a season opener.

SMITH SET TO START FOR RED RAIDERS AGAINST HOUSTON

  • Donovan Smith has been named Texas Tech’s starting quarterback against Houston following an injury to Tyler Shough. It will be the fifth start of Smith’s career as he previously led the Red Raiders to a pair of memorable wins a year ago over Iowa State and then Mississippi State in the AutoZone Liberty Bowl. 
  • Smith came off the bench this past weekend against Murray State and recorded one of the best performances of his still young career, helping the Red Raiders finish off a touchdown drive on his second play and then following with five-consecutive drives that found the end zone. Smith finished with 221 passing yards and a career-high four touchdowns in roughly a quarter and a half of action as he was replaced by Behren Morton on Texas Tech’s drive that started at 7:56 in the third quarter. 
  • In that short time, Smith connected on three passes of at least 30 yards, all of which went for touchdowns. Smith found Jerand Bradley on a 30-yard scoring strike on the first play he entered the game, pushing Texas Tech’s lead to 21-3 early in the second quarter.

NEWS AND NOTES ON THE OFFENSE

  • SaRodorick Thompson eclipsed the 2,000 mark for career rushing yards against Murray State, becoming only the 14th player in school history to do so. In the process, he joined the likes of DeAndre Washington (2011-15), Taurean Henderson (2002-05), Baron Batch (2006, 2008-10) and Shannon Woods (2005-08) as the fifth Red Raider to reach the mark since 2000. In addition to those already ranked in the top 10, the following three Red Raiders also rushed for 2,000 yards during their respective careers: Woods (2,249), Doug McCutchen (2,222; 1970-72) and Bobby Cavazos (2,137; 1951-53). 
  • Myles Price ranks as Texas Tech’s leading returner among the receiving corps as the junior caught 38 passes for 523 yards and two touchdowns last season. Over his career, Price has 70 catches for 667 yards and three touchdowns. 
  • Texas Tech will break in three new starters on the offensive line this season as the Red Raiders only return junior Caleb Rogers and senior Weston Wright from a year ago. Wright leads all returning Red Raiders with 32 career starts on the offensive line, while Rogers, who has moved from right to left tackle this season, has made 17 starts over his career. 
  • Despite not being known historically as a strong tight end team, that might be one of the deepest position groups for the Red Raiders this season behind senior Henry Teeter, junior Baylor Cupp and sophomore Mason Tharp. Cupp is a former five-star prospect who transferred to Texas Tech this offseason, while Tharp, at 6-9 in height, caught 14 passes for 198 yards and a touchdown a year ago.

THE NOT SO FLASHY DEFENSE STILL SHINED

  • Held Murray State to 1.2 yards per rush.
  • Did not allow a single first down in the second half. 
  • Recorded 13.0 TFLs last Saturday, the most in a single game since 14.0 were recorded on Oct. 5, 2019 versus Oklahoma State.
  • Tech’s 13.0 team TFLs/per game ranks T-2nd in the FBS; Tech is one of four schools in the FBS to own 13.0 or more TFLs.
  • The Red Raiders’ 4.0 sacks, matched their season-high in 2021 set twice, most recently last time out against Mississippi State. The other occasion was in the season opener versus Houston. The 4.0 sacks per game currently ranks T-9th in the FBS.
  • Philip Blidi exploded in the first half, tallying 2.0 sacks. He added a solo TFL in the second half to finish the game with 3.0. The 2.0 sacks and 3.0 TFLs both marked career highs for the junior who played in his 24th career game last weekend. Blidi was one of 15 FBS players that recorded 3.0 TFLs in week one of the college football season. Blidi’s 3.0 TFLs were the most in a single game since now-Seattle Seahawk Jordyn Brooks recorded 4.0 TFLs in a single game Oct. 5, 2019 vs. Oklahoma State. 
  • Led by its defensive line, Texas Tech limited opponents to less than 100 rushing yards in eight of 13 games last season and did so again to start the 2022 campaign by limiting Murray State – a strong team on the ground – to only 50 rushing yards. Dating back to 2000, last year’s performance marked the first time during that span that the Red Raiders had six or more games in a season where the opponent posted 100 rushing yards or less in a game.

 

Tahj Brooks

 

CHALLENGING SCHEDULE ON TAP

  • The start to the Joey McGuire era will be a challenging one for the Red Raiders, who will face three ranked opponents in their first four games to start the season. Tech will follow the Murray State game by hosting No. 24 Houston before traveling to close non-conference play at No. 13 N.C. State. The Red Raiders will then open Big 12 play back at Jones AT&T Stadium against in-state rival No. 18 Texas. 
  • Texas Tech is one of only four power-five conference schools that are slated to face at least two non-conference opponents currently ranked in the preseason Associated Press Top 25. That list also includes Pac-12 programs Oregon and Stanford, along with the SEC’s Arkansas.
  • There is just one Power Five program, Mississippi State, that holds more AP top 25 teams on its season schedule than Texas Tech with six. The Red Raiders’ preseason schedule pits them against five AP top-25 ranked opponents, and are one of 10 Power Five teams faced with that type of 2022 schedule (Georgia Tech, Louisville, North Carolina, Syracuse, Stanford, Arkansas, Auburn, South Carolina and Vanderbilt).
  • If both Houston and N.C. State remain in the top-25 polls prior to facing the Red Raiders, it would mark the first time since 2002 that Texas Tech has faced multiple ranked non-conference opponents in a season. The Red Raiders previously started the 2002 campaign at No. 12 Ohio State before traveling later to face No. 16 N.C. State in the fourth week of the season. 
  • In addition to both Houston and N.C. State, the Red Raiders will open Big 12 play against Texas, which is ranked No. 18 nationally in the AFCA coaches poll and also receiving votes in the AP poll. Texas Tech will follow with contests at Kansas State, which is also receiving votes in both polls, and then at No. 12 Oklahoma State. 
  • In its history, Texas Tech has started off only one other season with three of its first four games against ranked opponents as the Red Raiders last did so in 1978 against the likes of No. 9 Southern Cal, No. 6 Texas and No. 7 Texas A&M. Tech dropped all three of those games, falling 17-9 at Southern Cal and then 24-7 at home to Texas and 38-9 in College Station to the Aggies. The Red Raiders recovered, though, to win their next six games as part of a 7-4 season under Rex Dockery.

RAIDER WALK RETURNS FOR MCGUIRE’S DEBUT AT TEXAS TECH

  • Texas Tech will bring back the Raider Walk prior to every home game at Jones AT&T Stadium this season as the football program will debut an improved route under new head coach Joey McGuire. Fans can greet the Red Raiders roughly two hours and 15 minutes prior to kickoff each Saturday as Texas Tech will unload the team buses immediately south of the Sports Performance Center and walk north down Drive of Champions Avenue to the home tunnel. The Goin’ Band from Raiderland and Texas Tech spirit squads will be on hand each week to cheer on the Red Raiders as they begin pregame preparations. Fans are asked to line the streets prior to the team arrival and then enjoy other pregame entertainment such as Raider Alley presented by Bud Light.

GET YOUR TICKETS WHILE YOU CAN 

  • The excitement over Joey McGuire’s hire has been felt across Texas Tech Athletics since last November as the athletics department has seen significant increases in ticket sales heading into the season opener. As of Sunday, Texas Tech boasts more than 7,000 new season ticket holders this year, pushing its total to more than 28,000, which ranks in the top 10 all-time in school history.  
  • In addition to the rise in ticket sales, McGuire experienced sold out crowds throughout the state of Texas as part of the Red Raider Club  Wreck’Em Tour. McGuire, who spoke to more than 50 groups since his hire this past year, sold out events in Dallas, Fort Worth, Midland, Abilene, San Antonio and Houston as part of the tour to greet donors and supporters throughout the state. Texas Tech also benefited from sold out crowds in Lubbock with more than 1,300 fans who attended the Red Raider Club Kickoff Luncheon prior to the season.
  • The hype is real: Game one of the Joey McGuire era marked the largest home opening crowd (58,823) since 2016 when Tech hosted Stephen F. Austin (60,097).

-TECH-

Leave a Comment