To say that the Texas Tech football team’s 38-21 win over Houston on Saturday night was important would be an understatement. It was as massive of a week-one win as this program has had in the “Air Raid” era.
Typically, Tech has opened the season with games over programs that have little shot at threatening an upset. Sure, sometimes some lesser programs like Central Arkansas in 2014 or Houston Baptist in 2020 have come close to stunning the Red Raiders but for the most part, Tech’s openers have been less than intriguing.
In fact, Tech has only twice since the year 2000 played a Power 5 team in week one of the season (2002 at Ohio State and 2018 vs. Ole Miss in Houston). And while Houston is not yet a Power 5 program, they are one that is soon to be and they posed one of the biggest challenges that Tech has faced in an opener in the last two-plus decades.
Of course, this game took on more importance given that the Cougars are expected to join the Big 12 as soon as 2023. Thus, Tech needed to come out and make a statement not only to the U of H program but even more so to its own populace.
Think about how the next two weeks would have felt had Matt Wells’ team not been able to erase Saturday’s 14-point halftime deficit. Given the recent state of the program, imagine how sparse the crowds would have been in Lubbock for the Stephen F. Austin and Florida International games had Tech left Houston this weekend with an 0-1 record.
What’s more, getting to a Bowl would then have required four conference wins, something that this program has managed to do just three times in the post-Mike Leach era. So yeah, beating the Cougars was nearly imperative for the Red Raiders if they hope to have any chance at making 2021 more than just another study in futility.
What’s more, the way Tech persevered and fought back could build some extra fortitude in this team, fortitude that will be needed in Big 12 play. That’ aspect of the victory that wells pointed to in his postseason remarks.
“…that’s the biggest thing is the mindset that we’re going to take from this game,” he said “and be able to improve into week two. This is a long season. It’s a one-week season. It’s a one-game season every week. And it starts all over again for us tomorrow. And, you know, I think that’ll be the biggest indicator for us as we go through the month of September and kinda get into Big 12 play…”
For sure, this year’s week-one result feels more satisfying and more productive than any this program has produced in quite some time. It also feels like something that can be built upon moving forward.
To help Tech secure this critical win, there were a number of excellent individual performances worthy of game balls. So let’s take a look at who stood out the most and we will start by recognizing the work of one of the most scrutinized men in all of West Texas.