What is that coming over the hill, is it a bowl game? IT’S A BOWL GAME! Christmas is arriving early this year (by two days) as the Red Raiders get set to play in the Birmingham Bowl on December 23rd. Their efforts against in-state rival, Texas, during the last game of the regular season proved to be just the swing Texas Tech needed to solidify the jobs of Coach Kingsbury, Coach Gibbs, and also land a number of high-profile recruits.
But before we simply pass that reality and get into the Anti-Preview, I just want to pause until you guys taste the sweetness of what was just written. Texas Tech beat Texas AGAIN in their house, two times in a row! This team is changing, and despite what our sister blog, Burnt Orange Nation (real original), said about this not being a rivalry it is in every sense becoming one. If Texas wants to pretend A&M will come back around and play with them in the cul-de-sac, then let them...but until then, we’ll keep smacking them around on the gridiron. We’re all growing up and if you don’t know, now you know.
But I know why you all are here. You’ve been here before, and now you’re back again ready for more. The Anti-Preview’s existence is to cozily introduce you to the game ahead. None of that extravagant sports lingo, none of those numbers, but all of that home-cooked feeling you get from reading about Texas Tech sports. This is the last one of the year and we’ve come so far. So let’s get settled in, pull up your La-Z-Boy and hit the cruise into this week’s Anti-Preview featuring...
SOUTH FLORIDA UNIVERSITY
Located in sunny...Tampa, right? ...Florida for sure. The University of South Florida, USF from hereon out, has proven to be quite the force in the American East Conference. Boasting a 9-2 record with their only losses coming from close games against UCF and Houston, Coach Charlie Strong - wait, that sounds familiar - has primed the USF football team with a high ceiling. Unfortunately, the ceiling for this season is concrete and ends in Birmingham, Alabama, where a hungry 806D is looking to grab the Bulls by the horns.
WHAT SHOULD YOU BE DRINKING?
With a neutral site game, we won’t have to take any risks with drinking natural Florida bayou swill. Instead, this week’s drink of honor is a little tangy, a little refreshing, and a whole lot of slammin’. It is none other than the:
Imagine you’re driving down I-65 (because you’ve been to Alabama before and didn’t look it up in Google Maps) with the Alabama breeze in your hair and Lynyrd Skynyrd blaring on the radio of your General Lee replica Dodge Charger. That is what this Alabama Slammer evokes when you take your first sip. You’ll need a few items to reach this level of Southern nirvana:
Southern Comfort (1oz)
Sloe Gin (1oz)
Orange Juice (2oz)
Then to prepare:
Add all the ingredients to a shaker and fill with ice.
Shake, and strain into a highball glass filled with fresh ice.
Garnish with an orange wheel and a cherry.
WHAT SHOULD YOU BE EATING?
In the South, BBQ reigns supreme. But like most empires, it has fractured into a variety of techniques on how best to accomplish the coveted Southern BBQ flavor. For Alabama, it’s slow roasted pecan-infused pork. This delicacy is nestled between two warm buns and doused in the state’s favorite vinegar-based barbecue sauce, making Alabama a tough competitor in the tailgating world. Whether you’re making the trip to Birmingham or watching the game from home, it’s not a bad idea to try and get your hands on one of these Southern belles.
WHAT IS THE BEST THING ABOUT THE GAME?
With Texas Tech coming into the bowl season off of a win, a lot of positive energy is surrounding this game. Not only is USF currently ranked in the top-25, but it’s a football program that has some rights to argue about their place among the better conferences in the nation. Those hopes - like a chant of “we want Alabama” - are a double-edged sword. Fans and bloggers alike will be quick to point out a possible mismatch in this game, where Texas Tech has a 6-6 record and USF is sitting at 9-2, but if we’re just talking then let’s talk. Texas Tech has stuttered this year, and we all know it. A number of games seemed so easy to win and then backfired tremendously against our favor. Yet when the Red Raiders have shined, they looked unstoppable.
One of those games, against Houston - who USF lost to, mind you - never felt out of Texas Tech’s control. We knew we would win. It was a glimmer of invincibility teams like Alabama have taken for granted. USF’s game against Houston? It spiraled wildly out of control in the fourth quarter, leaving the Bulls to play catch-up until the clock ran out.
Then there have been the games where you do everything you can and still lose. USF had this against their in-state rival, Central Florida and Texas Tech had this against Kansas State. Regardless of our records: we’re actually pretty matched. Here’s where I want to theorize though: Tampa, FL is around 550 miles to Birmingham and Lubbock, TX is over 960 miles to Birmingham. Why has USF sold a “comically low” amount of tickets to the game, then? Could it be their fans have heard about the 806D? Perhaps, perhaps. The best thing about this game is that Texas Tech has beaten Coach Strong before, and we’ll do it again.
FIVE REASONS TO DISLIKE FLORIDA
1. The state is split in between two extremes: young, celebrity personas and old retirees. Florida is basically God’s waiting room if there was a TV stuck on the entertainment channel, E! Also, for emphasis on the short stay of the waiting room, AARP ranked Florida as the fourth worst state for long-term elderly care. FOURTH OUT OF FIFTY - you aren’t retiring for long, Walter.
2. It is almost like a micro-Australia. Everything outside wants to kill you. Giant cockroaches, bears, alligators, massive pythons, and sharks...I guess I’m just not leaving the house today.
3. Florida is another state with a panhandle, but its only ~11,000 sq miles in area. The Texas panhandle, for comparison, is almost 26,000 sq miles in area. So much room for activities! Seriously, would you rather pick up a pan with a small handle or with a nice wide handle?
4. Try typing in “why Florida is the worst state,” and about 68 million results will pop up. Here’s one website that has dedicated forty pictures to try and explain what makes Florida so atrocious.
AT THE END OF THE DAY
Texas Tech has hit the jackpot. The King is staying, Castle Gibbs is still fortifying, and we’ve got a lot of returning starters for next season - we’re set up pretty good. This bowl game, if won, will do well to cement another quality win under this team’s belt. After this, it’s all over for 2017. All of the struggle, frustration, hatred and anxiety; it will all be a memory. By April, you’ll all be counting down the days until Red Raider football gets started up, and the promise of a 2018 Big XII title will be refreshed in your hearts. So for now, let’s enjoy where we’ve come and what we’ve learned. This time next year, you just might be laughing about how none of us saw the success that was in our futures. For Viva the Matadors this is the Anti-Preview signing off, and saying get READY for my return in 2018 against the Ole Miss non-conformists.