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The 3 games that will determine Tech’s bowl eligibility this season

If Matt Wells can win these three important games, he’ll start his tenure off in Lubbock the right way - with a bowl appearance.

NCAA Football: Mississippi at Texas Tech Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

Matt Wells has his work cut out for him.

With most media outlets projecting an 8th or 9th place finish in the conference, a 5-7 record and virtually no players in key positions recognized in the preseason All-Big 12 team, the Red Raiders look primed for an underwhelming season in his first year in Lubbock.

But Wells has a couple of things going for him, starting with last year’s freshman sensation Alan Bowman, who, when healthy, should be considered a top-3 quarterback in the league. And, if we know anything about Texas Tech football (or football by itself), we know a great quarterback can make up for an abundance of deficiencies in other areas.

But Bowman isn’t alone. There are a couple of big-time playmakers in T.J. Vasher and Erik-Ezukanma on the outside, and a talented young running back in Ta’Zhawn Henry ready to take some of the load off Bowman’s shoulders. Jack Anderson is an elite offensive lineman and will be instrumental in giving Bowman time to throw and perhaps more importantly, keeping him healthy. Defensively, Jordyn Brooks is once again the most underrated linebacker in the conference and Adrian Frye is on his way to becoming one of the Big 12’s best defensive backs.

The talent on this team doesn’t rival Texas or Oklahoma, but there are enough pieces to win seven or eight games with a bit of luck. In all likelihood, however, we’ll be toeing that line of bowl eligibility all the way until the last game of the regular season. If the Red Raiders can dispatch of the following three opponents, however, a bowl bid is all but secured and Matt Wells’ first season on campus will be labeled a successful one.

1. Arizona Wildcats

If Tech beats Arizona, that means it will have a 3-0 non-conference record and consequently need just three more wins for the remainder of the season to lock up a bowl berth. This is no small task when you’re facing a guy like Khalil Tate, who can hurt you with both his arms and his legs, but the rest of this Arizona team isn’t so threatening.

2. TCU Horned Frogs

In spite of a great defense and a brilliant coaching staff, the Horned Frogs will be a mediocre team at best thanks to a glaring weakness in what we’ve already established as the sport’s most important position—quarterback. All signs point to Alex Delton getting the nod under center, and that’s incredible news for the rest of the Big 12. This kid is absolutely abysmal at throwing the football. He completes a little over 50 percent of his passes and despite getting significant playing time over the last two seasons, he’s thrown just five career touchdown passes to go with four interceptions. He can run with the best of them, but you have to be able to throw the ball in this league to win close games, and that’s why Tech should get the best of TCU in this one.

3. Kansas State Wildcats

The Red Raiders host the Wildcats in the penultimate game of the year and it very well could be the game that sends Tech into the postseason. I don’t think K-State will be as easy a victory as other media pundits project—I have a tremendous amount of respect for Chris Klieman and there’s a good chance that by this point in the season, he’ll have his Wildcats playing the physical, disciplined, selfless brand of football his championship teams at North Dakota State did for so many years. However, Tech’s speed and aerial attack have always presented a great quantity of matchup problems for K-State and I don’t think that’ll be any different this year. This should be Tech’s sixth win of the season, landing the Red Raiders in an insignificant bowl, but a postseason appearance nonetheless.

If Tech takes care of business against these three teams and nothing goes wrong during the Kansas Bye (what I call the game against the Jayhawks every year that inevitably results in a Tech win - seriously, Tech is 19-1 all time against KU and has won 12 consecutive, I don’t expect that to change in Lawrence this year) or the other non-conference cupcakes, then the Red Raiders will undoubtedly be playing football in December.

Poll

Which of these three teams are you most worried about?

This poll is closed

  • 33%
    Arizona
    (235 votes)
  • 36%
    TCU
    (258 votes)
  • 23%
    Kansas State
    (165 votes)
  • 7%
    The Kansas Bye
    (50 votes)
708 votes total Vote Now