This may be a surprise to some and to others, not so much, but the last time Texas Tech has won a bowl game was back in 2013 when Davis Webb led the Red Raiders to a 37-23 upset over the Arizona State Sun Devils in the Holiday Bowl. Since then, Tech missed a bowl in 2014, lost to LSU in 2015 and once again missed a bowl again in 2016. This year they're back in and have a chance to turn things around.
It sounds cliche, but in order for a program to develop a winning culture, it has to win. One signature win can transform a mediocre program into one that competes for championships. For Mike Leach, that win came in 2001 when the Red Raiders upset a 17th ranked Texas A&M team. From then on, every single game felt winnable no matter who was on the other side. The biggest complaint of the Kingsbury era is that he’s never had that proverbial signature win. The Holiday Bowl win was basically with Tuberville’s team.
Since then, the Red Raiders have not been able to break the glass ceiling of pulling off a real upset against a ranked opponent, however they have been frustratingly close. In 2014, they lost 46-48 to #7 Baylor on a missed two point conversion. In 2015, lost to #4 TCU on a tipped ball that was miraculously caught for a touchdown in the final seconds. In 2016, they lost to both #16 Oklahoma and #17 Oklahoma State by less than a touchdown. I could go on and on, but the point is that they are so close to breaking the barrier and reestablishing a winning culture in Lubbock and it just takes one win. So could the Birmingham bowl potentially be that win?
USF is 9-2 in Charlie Strong's first season with the Bulls and spent most of the season ranked in the top 20. A 28-24 loss to Houston knocked them out of the polls for the remainder of the season. Unfortunately, the CFP rankings have come to be the rankings that truly matter and without that all important number in front of their name, the Red Raiders and Kingsbury will still be looking for the signature win next season. Don't take this Bowl game lightly though, a win over the Bulls will be a step in the right direction by virtue of ending the bowl drought. It might just be the win the team needs to pull off a true upset next season.