For the second time this summer, a big time future non-conference game has been announced for Texas Tech. A couple weeks ago, the Red Raiders finalized a home and home with Oregon for 2023 and 2024. And yesterday, Texas Tech announced it would be opening the 2018 season in Houston against Ole Miss.
The matchup with the Rebels is just the latest in a growing list of premiere non-conference showdowns Texas Tech has scheduled in the coming years:
- 2016: Arizona State
- 2017: Arizona State, Houston
- 2018: Houston, Ole Miss
- 2019: Arizona
- 2020: Arizona
- 2022: North Carolina State
- 2023: Oregon
- 2024: Oregon
- 2027: North Carolina State
I wouldn’t be surprised at all if Texas Tech continues to load the non-conference schedule with power five conference teams through the next decade. It’s clear that the athletics department is more interested in creating excitement around non-conference games and inserting the Double T brand into viewers’ television sets all across the country rather than simply stacking the non-conference slate with cupcakes and a guaranteed 3-0 start to the season.
The matchup with Ole Miss is especially exciting for a couple reasons.
First, it’s a chance to take on a stellar program from the vaunted SEC West. While the extent to which the SEC’s dominance can be debated by college football fans, the consensus is that it is the sport’s premiere conference, and the western division is significantly better than the eastern division. A win over any SEC West team is definitely a signature one.
Second, Texas Tech actually has a bit of relatively recent history with the Rebels. The last time the two faced off was in the disappointing Cotton Bowl of 2009 in Dallas. After a historic 11-1 season in the old (and frankly, far superior) Big 12 and being left out of the BCS picture, Texas Tech came out flat and lost to Ole Miss, 47-34.
In 2002 and 2003, the pair of schools engaged in a home and home series in Lubbock and Oxford, respectively. Texas Tech won the bout in Lubbock 42-28 during Kingsbury’s senior season. The 2003 matchup in Oxford was much more exciting. A matchup between the polished and NFL-ready Eli Manning vs. B.J. Symons, who even early in the season was turning heads with his gaudy passing numbers. The Red Raiders prevailed in a 49-45 shootout behind the arm of Symons.
The two schools also faced off twice in the Independence Bowl in Shreveport, first in 1986, then in 1998. Ole Miss won both matchups, 20-17 and 35-18, respectively. That makes the all-time series 3-2 in favor of Mississippi. Interestingly enough, the three Rebel wins came at neutral sites (like the 2018 game in Houston), while Texas Tech’s two wins came at each of the schools’ home stadiums.
This game will be awesome for Texas Tech alumni in the Houston area, or anywhere in East Texas really. Any Big 12/SEC matchup is sure to generate a little bit of national attention, and if Texas Tech can pull out a victory, it’s bound to generate some excitement and momentum early on in the season.
Red Raiders vs. Rebels should be one heck of a duel. Which outlaw-esque mascot will shoot quickest and straightest? The best part is, we only have to wait two years to find out, instead of seven or eight like the Oregon matchup.