Mike Leach coached 127 games at Texas Tech from 2000 to 2009, winning 84 and losing 43. Texas Tech was 47-33 in conference during that time, never had a losing season, had 8 seasons of 8 or more wins, was bowl eligible every season, and was 6-4 in those bowl games. Mike Leach is the winningest coach in Texas Tech football history, both in regular season and post-season play. Let's take a look back at 10 great games from the last 10 years.
10. Texas Tech vs. Kansas State (October 15, 2005)
Synopsis: Texas Tech (#11) dominated this game. Cody Hodges threw for almost 650 yards and 5 TDs. He ended up leaving the game with about 5 minutes remaining, which was odd for Leach. Taurean Henderson became the NCAA leader for receptions by a running back early in the game. The best part about this game was the two forced fumbles caused by Dwayne Slay.
Why it was great: This win over Kansas State gave Texas Tech its highest ranking under Mike Leach until the 2008 season (#8) and its best start (6-0) in the Mike Leach era. They would lose the following week to Texas. Dwayne Slay's individual performance was also outstanding - he went on that year to set a new Big 12 record for forced fumbles in a single season (8).
9. Texas Tech vs. Texas (November 16, 2002)
Synopsis: Texas Tech and Kliff Kingsbury had to come from behind in this one. After a Tech fumbled inside their own 30, Texas took it back in two plays for a TD. About 10 minutes later, Texas drove the length of the field and scored again. Things weren't looking so hot. Finally the offense exploded the second quarter to the tune of 21 points to leave things all tied up at half-time. Things remained tied going into the fourth, when Texas traded a field goal for Tech's touchdown and Tech finally took the lead. Tech then got a key interception by Ryan Aycock which allowed them to run out the clock.
Why it was great: At this point, #9 Texas was the highest ranked team Tech had ever beaten. This victory was a total shock at the time. This was Texas Tech's first win over a top 10 opponent under Mike Leach, and one of two wins over the University of Texas.
8. Texas Tech vs. Nebraska (October 9, 2004)
Synopsis: Texas Tech came out firing, rolling to a 21-3 lead at halftime. The Cornhuskers scored their first touchdown on the third play of the third quarter and were threatening to get back in the game, but that was not to be. Sunnie Cumbie completed 15 straight passes starting in the second half on the way to scoring the next 49 points. Nebraska pulled their starting QB near the end of the third quarter in favor of a true freshman who threw four interceptions and lost a fumble.
Why it was great: The lowly Red Raiders dominated and wrecked a traditional power in a way that neither side would soon forget. This was the first time Texas Tech had beaten Nebraska in its previous 8 match-ups, and also the most points scored against a Big 12 opponent under Mike Leach. The Red Raiders handed the Cornhuskers their worst loss in the school's history. Additionally, 70 points was the most ever given up by Nebraska, a team more known for its outstanding defensive play and "black shirts".
7. Texas Tech vs. Oklahoma (November 17, 2007)
Synopsis: After knocking Sam Bradford out of the game after the Sooner's second possession, things began going very badly for Oklahoma. Personal fouls and an aggressive Tech defense caused them problems all night in front of a raucous crowd at the Jones. Texas Tech pulled away to a 27-10 lead at halftime, and took a 34-10 lead a few minutes into the third. The Sooners came alive in the fourth quarter, but by then it was too late. After they scored their final TD with 30 seconds to go, Texas Tech recovered the ensuing onside kick to seal the victory.
Why it was great: Another top 5 team goes down to the Red Raiders. In addition, it knocked the Sooners out of the contention for the national championship game. Like the Texas game in 2008, Oklahoma came on strong in the second half, however this time it was the Tech defense that shut down the comeback. Graham Harrell also achieved 5,000 yards passing for the season in this game. The drama and fear of a comeback made this game a nailbiter.
6. Texas Tech vs. California (December 30, 2004)
Synopsis: Texas Tech came out red hot in their first ever Holiday bowl against #4 California. After trading blows with California early the Red Raiders blew the game open by scoring 24 unanswered points. Sunnie Cumbie had 250 yards passing in the second quarter alone, and ended the day with 520 yards passing.
Why it was great: This was Texas Tech's first big out of conference win under Mike Leach, first win with large national exposure, and second win over a top 5 opponent.
5. Texas Tech vs. Oklahoma State (November 8, 2008)
Synopsis: After the historic victory over #1 Texas, there was expectation that the Red Raiders might come out flat against #9 Oklahoma State. That expectation was quickly laid to rest as the Red Raiders scored 28 points in the first half to lead Oklahoma State 28-14. The much vaunted "duel" between Michael Crabtree and Dez Bryant became equally lobsided as Bryant was held without a catch until the last moments of the first half, and without a touchdown for the game. Crabtree managed to chip in for three touchdowns in the 56-20 route which proved that Tech's victory over Texas was not a fluke.
Why it was great: During those first three weeks of November, Texas Tech football was on top of the world. There were real expectations that this could be the year that Texas Tech won it all. With this game the team cemented those expectations and proved they could handle the success (at least up until that point).
4. Texas Tech vs. Texas A&M (October 5, 2002)
Result: 48-47 (OT)
Synopsis: The score going into the 4th quarter at Kyle Field was 17-35 in favor of A&M at Kyle Field. Kliff Kingsbury, Wes Welker, and Taurean Henderson then put together a terrific comeback and scored three touchdowns to one for A&M. Though A&M broke the then-Big 12 record for touchdown passes in this game (7), they missed a crucial extra point with just over a minute to play which would have given them a 4 point lead. It was 38-41. Tech kicked a field goal to tie the game as time expired. In overtime, A&M got the ball first and scored a TD - but again missed the extra point. Kingsbury found Nehemiah Glover in the endzone and made the extra point to seal the victory.
Why it was great: This was Texas Tech's first time to beat A&M in College Station since 1996. Additionally it was one of the first times the ability of Texas Tech's offense to recover from large deficits was realized (18 points), and it was done in overtime.
3. Texas Tech vs. Virginia (January 1, 2008)
Synopsis: Texas Tech got off to a good start with a TD early in the first quarter, but then went completely flat until a third of the way into the 3rd quarter. Graham Harrell especially came out poorly with a string of mental errors in the first half, including two safeties due to illegal grounding in the endzone. For all their bad play, however, Texas Tech was only down 7-21 at the half. The Red Raiders came out strong in the second half, overcoming a 14-point deficit with two seconds remaining to win the game with an Alex Trlica field goal.
Why it was great: This was yet another great Red Raider comeback, plus in this game we saw the beginnings of what the 2008 team could be. The team showed the same kind of grit they showed in the 2006 Insight Bowl.
2. Texas Tech vs. Minnesota (December 29, 2006)
Result: 44-41 (OT)
Synopsis: The Red Raiders spotted Minnesota 38 points (7-38) in the 2006 Insight Bowl with 7:47 remaining in the third quarter before mounting the greatest bowl game comeback in history. Texas Tech scored 31 unanswered points and tied the game as time ran out with a 52-yard Alex Trlica field goal. In overtime, Minnesota managed only a field goal while Texas Tech scored a TD on a five play drive for the win. Minnesota coach Glen Mason was let go following the collapse.
Why it was great: In case you missed it in the synopsis, this was the greatest bowl game comeback ever. The heart and will that was displayed by the Tech players was tremendous. Graham Harrell, who had had a rough and contentious first season starting at QB, showed how he could lead the offense in this game.
1. Texas Tech vs. Texas (November 1, 2008)
Synopsis: For a week beforehand, Lubbock was buzzing about this game between two undefeated teams. Students camped out in front of the stadium in "Raiderville" for the entire week. When the game began, the energy was incredible. The Red Raiders dominated the first half, winding up 22-6, and left Texas reeling. Texas eventually woke up after the half and came back on a number of big plays including a return by Jordan Shipley and a long 91-yard passing TD by Colt McCoy and eventually took the lead 32-33 with 1:29 remaining. Then Graham Harrell put the final polish on his legendary Texas Tech career by executing a 62-yard drive which culminated in "The Catch" and gave Texas Tech the win.
Why it was great: The finish, the performances, and the high stakes make this the best game of the last decade. It kept Tech's undefeated season alive, made "Michael Crabtree" and "Graham Harrell" names that people around the country knew, not just followers of the Big 12, and gave us one of the greatest finishes ever. Unlike the 2005 season when Tech reached #8 before falling to Texas, this time they go to go on through to the next round and became a solid #2 team with support for the #1 spot.