Merriam-Webster dictionary defines the word “haunt” two ways:
1. “to eventually cause problems for someone as time passes”
2. “to keep coming back to the mind of someone, especially in a way that makes the person sad or upset”
Texas Tech football is haunted by its fair share of opposing teams. Last season, the Red Raiders took a step in the right direction by beating a few foes for the first time in quite a long while. That said, it still has some demons to exorcise. Here is a list of the most “must-win” Big 12 games on the schedule this season, in terms of getting over the hump and halting the hauntings once and for all.
9. Kansas: Texas Tech has only lost to Kansas once in program history, and has not fallen to the Jayhawks in 15 years. And while it’s safe to say we have their number, Texas Tech has come out flat and given some uninspiring performances against Kansas the past few years.
8. Iowa State: During his three seasons as Texas Tech’s head coach, Tommy Tuberville lost to Iowa State twice as much as the Red Raiders had fallen to the Cyclones since 1974 (including an embarrassing 41-7 drubbing in Lubbock). Despite an 11-3 all-time series record in favor of Texas Tech, going up to Iowa to play in Jack Trice Stadium will be a little nerve-racking, especially if new Cyclones head coach Matt Campbell can turn things around quickly like many think he will.
7. West Virginia: The Red Raiders and Mountaineers have faced off four years in a row since West Virginia joined the Big 12. The teams have each won twice, and other than the first meeting in 2012, it’s been a pretty close game. Still a fairly fresh face in the conference, I don’t want West Virginia to make a habit out of beating Texas Tech.
6. Kansas State: Coming off of a four year losing streak to the Wildcats, Texas Tech finally got the better of Bill Snyder last season. It was an impressive rebound, but after losing handily in his first two seasons against Kansas State, Kingsbury needs to show he can beat them on a regular basis, especially on the road this year in Manhattan.
5. TCU: Despite the perception that TCU is one of the Big 12’s powerhouses and that Tech is a below average team, the two schools have split their four games in Big 12 play evenly. While TCU has certainly become nationally competitive while Tech has struggled in recent years, the Horned Frogs don’t have a long history of haunting the Red Raiders. Dating back to their days in the Southwest Conference, Texas Tech has won 19 of the last 28 (with two ties thrown in) against TCU.
4. Oklahoma: There was a point in time when the Red Raiders were the most successful Big 12 team against Oklahoma year in and year out, beating the Sooners in every odd numbered year between 2005 and 2011. Since then, Oklahoma has won four straight. Playing Oklahoma in Lubbock this season is as good an opportunity as any to steal a win before the losing streak to the Sooners becomes flat out embarrassing.
3. Oklahoma State: Currently, Texas Tech is suffering an embarrassing seven game losing streak to Oklahoma State, including at least a couple games that the Red Raiders let get away from them. Furthermore, Tech hasn’t topped the Cowboys in Stillwater since 2001. Losing seven in a row is simply unacceptable, and the fact that nobody on Texas Tech’s roster has ever beaten Oklahoma State surely creates an inferiority complex of sorts. Even though the game is on the road, the Red Raiders must find a way to end their current losing streak to the Cowboys.
2. Baylor: There was a time when football players wore leather helmets. During that time, Baylor won their fair share of games against Texas Tech. But between 1996 and 2010, the Red Raiders won 15 in a row over the Bears, before dropping each of the last five. The all-time series is 37-36-1 in favor of Baylor, and Texas Tech has not played any other school throughout their history than Baylor. The matchup obviously has Big 12 conference implications, but also implications in the state of Texas with regards to recruiting and in-state perception. With Baylor sort of rebuilding and beginning the season with a new head coach, Texas Tech needs to strike while the iron is hot and get the monkey that is Baylor off its proverbial back.
1. Texas: What do you say about the Texas Longhorns? Arguably the greatest brand in college athletics, an outstanding football history, and more funding than Texas Tech could ever dream of, Texas has predictably dominated the all-time series 49-16. Texas Tech has never won more than two in a row against Texas. And before Thanksgiving last year, Tech had lost six in a row to the Longhorns, despite Texas fielding some of its worst teams in decades. If Texas Tech wants to improve its standing in the lone star state and in the Big 12, it must beat Texas more consistently. With Texas still rebuilding and Tech having the opportunity to play them in Lubbock, the Red Raiders would be remiss not to take advantage of the chance to start a win streak against the goliath of college football. In terms of exorcising demons, let’s just say the devil has horns.