The Matt Wells era at Texas Tech is off to an encouraging start. I predicted the Red Raiders holding a 4-2 record at the midway point of the 2019 season with two conference victories over Oklahoma State and Baylor. Looking at the second half of the season, we see the schedule becoming very inconsistent with half of the teams pushing for the Big 12 title and the other half adjusting to new coaches who struggle to rack up wins with their squads.
Kicking off the second half of the season, the Red Raiders will face off against Iowa State, who handed the Red Raiders a heartbreaker last year in Ames. In this year’s matchup, we will once again see a challenging duel as Alan Bowman looks to redeem himself after his forgetful performance against the ‘Clones in 2018, and Coach Wells struggles to find answers to the imposing Iowa State defense, one that he’s never seen the likes of before in his previous home, the Mountain West Conference. I expect a close one in Lubbock with both coaches having their troops battle hard. Prediction: Tech falls short, 34-28.
The Red Raiders will be eager to redeem themselves after their close loss in the prior week. Their next opponent, the Kansas Jayhawks, who had by far the most interesting hiring during the offseason, bringing in former Oklahoma State and LSU head coach Les Miles, will prove to be the team that relieves the sorrow that Tech and their fans endured.
Despite the hiring of a former national championship winner, the Jayhawks once again hold a talent pool that can’t compete in the Big 12, with only one proven all-conference contender in RB Pooka Williams. The inability to matchup with a Big 12 team through four quarters will be more apparent when facing a team looking for redemption. Prediction: Tech wins, 41-16.
Tech will then travel to Morgantown, which would’ve been a daunting road game in previous years. However, the Mountaineers are in a bit of a rebuilding year under new head coach Neil Brown, who was reportedly a target for Tech’s head coaching position back in late November of 2018. The Red Raiders will be riding into West Virginia with a 3-1 record in October.
Many will expect Tech to maintain this somewhat impressive record with ease. However, West Virginia will prove to be a surprisingly tough matchup for Coach Wells as the Red Raiders will be caught off guard by Coach Neil’s offensive mind while a loud Mountaineer crowd roars in the background. I expect this game to be back and forth the whole way, with the talent difference of the quarterbacks being the deciding factor. Prediction: Tech wins a nail-biter, 38-35.
The Red Raiders will travel back to Lubbock for a two-game home stand where they meet Gary Patterson and the Horned Frogs who had a bit of a disappointing season last year in Fort Worth, with a plethora of injuries and inconsistency at quarterback. However, after a slow start to the season, TCU rallied and made it to a bowl game, the opposite of the Red Raiders 2018 football season.
This should put fear into the Big 12 as TCU returns multiple starters in addition to ultra-talented defensive tackle, Ross Blacklock, who missed the entire 2018 season, and former Kansas State quarterback, Alex Delton, providing a steady presence at the helm of the offense. TCU is once again a Big 12 contender, and their overwhelming talent will prove to be a handful for Coach Wells. Prediction: Tech loses, 34-20.
Next on the Red Raiders’ schedule is Kansas State. Last year in Manhattan, Tech put up a disappointing performance that prevented bowl eligibility. This year, there’s a change in faces for both teams as new head coaches were brought in for each squad. Kansas State is now lead by Chris Kleiman, who is a bit of a wild card coming from the FCS.
At North Dakota State, Coach Kleiman dominated, winning four national championships. The Big 12, of course, holds a much different talent pool, which I believe will be no problem once he recruits some talent to K-State (you don’t win four national titles without being a good coach). However, that will come within the next few years; as of today, the Wildcats hold an unproven roster with a brand-new head coach who will be facing a motivated team with proven starters. Prediction: Tech wins, 44-28.
The Red Raiders open and close conference play with the Big 12’s two most talented teams. This time the matchup comes in Austin against the Longhorns, who face high expectations this season. This game coming at the end of the season is perfect for the Red Raiders as they have already met bowl eligibility, not needing this win.
The Longhorns, however, will be pushing for the Big 12 title and potentially the College Football Playoff. A motivated, highly talented Texas team led by potential Heisman winner, Sam Ehlinger, (while also playing in Austin) equals a lot of trouble for Coach Wells’ final game of conference play. I expect the ‘Horns to start the game firing on all cylinders and hold a halftime lead that Tech will push hard to recover from. Prediction: Tech is defeated, 44-31.
The 2019 Tech football season will put a smile on most Red Raider fans’ faces as the hiring of Coach Wells proves to be relieving and encouraging as a hard-working culture is established within the program. Alan Bowman moves further up on the list of great Red Raider quarterbacks and Lubbock finally has a team that values the defensive side of the ball nearly as much as the offensive side.
These factors all equal to one of the best Red Raider football seasons of the decade with Tech hovering around the top 25, making a bowl game for only the third time in the last six years, and ultimately boasting a 7-5 record with a 5-4 record in Big 12 play. The future is bright for the Hub City’s beloved football team.