The Big 12 finally released its 2017 schedule yesterday afternoon. As always, there are elements of the schedule for Texas Tech that should bode well for the Red Raiders, but also some obstacles. Let’s take a look at the pros and cons of the schedule, pictured below.
1. One of the first things I noticed was the final three week stretch of the season for Texas Tech. They play a neutral site game against Baylor, a home game against TCU, then travel to Austin to play Texas. Having all three of your in-state conference rivals in the same stretch is rare, especially to close out the season. This should make for an exciting finish to 2017.
2. A lot of the games I would call (or hope to call) “toss ups” will be played in Lubbock. Arizona State, Iowa State, Kansas State, and TCU are all games that will be played at Jones AT&T Stadium. All four are realistically winnable. All four are realistically losable. In games that have a thin margin of error, home field advantage is always nice. Playing these teams at home instead of on the road could very well be the difference between victory and defeat.
3. Texas Tech has lost eight straight against Oklahoma State. That is inexcusable. The Red Raiders will have a chance to beat the Cowboys in what should make for an exciting Big 12 opener in Lubbock. Hopefully there’s a great crowd in attendance, and a win could provide some excellent momentum to start conference play.
1. A Week 2 bye is like embarking on an eight-hour road trip and stopping 25 minutes down the road to stretch your legs. Teams don’t need a week off to rest up after one game. They need it in between the halfway point and the last few games of the season. Instead, Texas Tech is left playing 11 straight weekends, not providing any extra time to recover from fatigue or injuries sustained in the middle of the season. This is absurd and should not happen. The Big 12 needs to try and reconcile this moving forward.
2. Texas Tech faces one of its toughest non-conference schedules in recent memory. While they start with an FCS opponent, Eastern Washington is no cupcake. They’re a perennial power in their respective division. Non-conference play is rounded out with a Power 5 opponent with Arizona State and a high caliber Group of 5 opponent with Houston on the road. Gone are the days of playing three or four “nobodies” to start the season. 1-2 or even 0-3 is not out of the question going into Big 12 play.
3. The downside to favorable home matchups outlined above is a tough road schedule. Tech has to travel to Morgantown and Norman to face off against West Virginia and Oklahoma, respectively. Both teams closely contended for a conference championship in 2016. They close out the season in Austin, where Tom Herman may have already orchestrated quite the turnaround at one of the nation’s true blue blood football programs. Almost every road matchup presents some serious potential for disaster for Texas Tech, and the Red Raiders should hang their hat on any win that comes on the road in 2017.