As the season draws nearer and nearer, it’s inevitable that Texas Tech fans will begin speculating what kind of year we will have on the field in 2016. Or, if you’re like me, you’ve been considering it since the clock struck 0:00 at the Texas Bowl in December.
Here, I will outline what the worst case scenario for the Red Raiders could be. But first, a couple of disclaimers:
1. Don’t accuse me of negativity. I am not predicting this will happen, and obviously I’m not hoping it will happen. I will have a best case scenario laid out as well.
2. This is the worst case scenario with at least a decent probability of occurring (I’ll arbitrarily say between 10%-20%). Yes, the absolute worst possible scenario would be going 0-12 or a meteor striking earth before football season even starts. Below is the worst case scenario that is actually plausible.
Last season, Texas Tech rebounded from a 4-8 campaign in 2014 to go 7-5 in the regular season followed by a loss to LSU in the Texas Bowl. The Red Raiders wound up 7-6 with a 5-6 record against power five schools.
This worst case scenario begins with the premise that Texas Tech wasn’t even as good as their record indicates. One could argue that the win at Arkansas was lucky due to the Razorbacks coming off a loss the week prior to Toledo. In the 48-45 win against Texas, the Longhorns lost their starting QB early in the game, and Tech scored on a trick play and their own version of the immaculate reception. Had they played an Arkansas team with more momentum and a Texas team that wasn’t so unlucky, those could have both been losses.
The Red Raiders played arguably their worst game of the season in Lawrence, Kansas, where if they had been playing anyone other than the Jayhawks, they probably would have lost. All in all, if last season were simulated a thousand times, Texas Tech might finish 5-7 or even 4-8 somewhat regularly.
So if we have a 5-7 team from last year which is losing its leading rusher DeAndre Washington, leading receiver Jakeem Grant, best offensive lineman Le’Raven Clark, best linebacker Dakota Allen, two of their best defensive backs J.J Gaines and Nigel Bethel, and best pass rusher Pete Robertson, you can see why there might be some legitimate concern.
While everyone appears confident that players will step in to fill those voids, and the team will improve in other aspects, nothing is a sure thing until it’s proven on the field.
The second premise is that if Texas Tech doesn’t hold serve against some good teams at home, it will be forced to beat some very good teams on the road, which is a tall order for any team. Oklahoma could very well roll into Lubbock as the number one ranked team in the country, and Texas Tech hasn’t beaten Texas two seasons in a row except for three times in school history.
If the Red Raiders drop those two at home and are forced to play the rest of the top of the Big 12 (TCU, Baylor, and Oklahoma State) away from home, their record in Big 12 play could end up leaving a lot to be desired. In addition, while Arizona State appears to be rebuilding, it’s another power five contest on the road, and those are never easy.
Finally, considering what Matt Campbell did at Toledo (see the Arkansas note above), I don’t think anyone would be surprised if he turns Iowa State around fast. Texas Tech has only won one game north of the state of Oklahoma in the month of November since 1941. If they march into Jack Trice Stadium in November (perhaps in severe cold, maybe even snow) against an improved Cyclones squad, that could be yet another loss.
Realistically, this puts Texas Tech’s worst case scenario at 4-8 or perhaps even 3-9. Again, I do not want nor think that this will happen. But if certain teams in the Big 12 are much improved since last year, certain injuries occur, and Texas Tech fails to gain any momentum early in the season, a repeat of 2014 isn’t totally out of the question.
The only wins that should be considered close to automatic are Stephen F. Austin, Louisiana Tech, and Kansas, all of which are played at home. Even if Texas Tech isn’t as bad as outlined above, upsets happen. A team that “should” go 6-6 can easily wind up 4-8 with some bad luck on Hail Maries or last second field goals. It’s college football; weird stuff happens.