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Has Texas Tech Avoided the "Bad Loss"?

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This past summer, Seth delved into what Texas Tech fans have come to expect in one or two games each season:  Bad losses.  As Texas Tech enters a tough four-game stretch with a 7-0 record and a unanimous top ten ranking, I wondered if maybe, just maybe, Texas Tech has escaped the infamous "bad loss."

Read more after the jump.

For purposes of the analysis, we defined a "bad loss" as:

...a game whereby Texas Tech loses to a supposedly inferior opponent or a game whereby it does not appear that Texas Tech was even remotely ready to play.

From 2001 through 2007, Texas Tech has lost games to teams it actually finished ahead of, according to the Congrove final rankings.  The worst of these were:

Year (TT Rank)

Opponent (Rank)


2001 (39)

Kansas (95)


2002 (26)

Iowa State (63)


2003 (31)

Missouri (38)


2004 (20)

New Mexico (47)


2005 (15)

Oklahoma St. (90)


2006 (35)

Colorado (108)


2007 (26)

Colorado (71)


The causes of those losses were summarized well by Seth in this table:









Can't Stop Run








Too Many Turnovers








Low Yards Per Passing Attempt








I think we can all agree that there have been two games that, looking at how we played, it was entirely possible we could have, and, if they had been played in years past, we would have lost.  Those two games were @ Nevada, and vs. Nebraska.

First, let's look at Texas Tech's 35-19 win at Nevada (boxscore):

Graham Harrell had a very bad day (his career worst, if I remember correctly), going 19-of-46 for 297 yards passing, and was intercepted twice.  Of those yards, 132 of them came on two passes to Mr. Crabtree.  Harrell averaged 6.5 yards per pass, below his season average of 8.7.  We played below average in many categories, including:


@ Nevada

Season Avg

Pass Completion

19/46  (41.3%)

236/343  (68.8%)

Yards per Attempt



3rd Down Conversions

6/14  (42.86%)

50/90  (55.56%)

4th Down Conversions

1/3  (33.33%)

8/13  (61.54%)

Defense - Yards per Carry



Defense – Yards per Pass Attempt






So, of the three causes for most of our bad losses, we had:

  •  Below average rush defense
  • Turnovers
  • Below average yards per pass attempt
So, what saved us?

1.     The big plays.  Eric Morris returned a punt 86 yards for a touchdown.  Mr. Crabtree grabbed a pass from Harrell for an 82 yard touchdown.  Another 50 yard pass to Crabtree set up a 1-yard TD by Shannon Woods.  These plays showed that this offense didn’t give up when, in years past, it seemed like they would.

2.     Defense stepped up when it counted.  The defense limited Nevada’s 3rd down (3/16) and 4th down (1/3) conversions, and limited Nevada’s offense to only three field goals off of five trips into the red zone.  Even though this defense gave up more yards than our offense gained, most of it was between the twenties and on first and second downs.  When they needed a stop, they made it.  A goal-line takeaway and an interception hauled in by Brandon Sesay made the turnover margin zero, and while Texas Tech didn’t turn those into points, they certainly took opportunities away from Nevada.

3.     We ran the ball well.  Shannon Woods and Baron Batch combined for 13 carries totaling 92 yards, while Morris and Crawford added 34.  Batch averaged 7.8 yards per carry.  This game made me notice Baron Batch, and he’s been a pleasant surprise in this offense.

Now, let’s look at the 37-31 overtime win against Nebraska (boxscore):

Graham Harrell didn’t have a bad day, he just had a very short day.  The offense was very efficient, averaging 11.4 yards per pass and 6.0 yards per carry.  The defense did well against the run, allowing only 3.3 yards per carry.  But, the defense struggled against the pass, allowing 7.9 yards per pass, and allowed 7 of 12 third down conversions with 1 of 2 fourth down conversions.  Of Nebraska’s five trips into the red zone, they scored 4 touchdowns and 1 field goal.

The major culprit in this game was below average pass defense.  Not on the list, but I think it can be swapped with “Can’t stop the run” this season because our rush defense has been better than our pass defense.  So, what saved us?

1.     The Big Plays.  Mr. Crabtree went 35 yards for the first TD of the game.  Baron Batch had a 49 yard run to set up a Carona field goal.  Ed Britton had a 56 yard reception to set up a Shannon Woods TD.  Crabtree’s 46 yard reception on 4th and 5 led to another TD.  There were a few more plays than went for over 20 yards, keeping drives alive.

2.     Defense Stepped up in OT.  I don’t know about you, but watching McKinner Dixon chase and drag down Joe Ganz was a thing of beauty to me.  Our defensive ends have done a superb job of getting to the QB’s.  Brandon Williams has 7 sacks this season, only half a sack behind Texas’ Brian Orakpo.  Dixon is not far behind with 5 on the year.  Jamar Wall put himself at the right spot at the right time.

3.     We ran the ball well.  Baron Batch averaged an astonishing 9.7 yards per carry, going 97 yards on only 10 carries.  He added 53 yards receiving as well.  Shannon Woods added 36 more yards on the ground.

So, what does it all mean?  Despite having offensive struggles at Nevada and defensive struggles against Nebraska, Texas Tech found a way to get the W.  They relied on big plays on offense, important plays on defense, and used the running game to fill in the drives. Texas Tech has been ranked for all seven games, and all of its opponents have not been ranked.  We have no losses so far, with Baylor the only unranked opponent left on the schedule.  Has this team finally found a way to avoid the “bad loss”?