Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin
Michael Crabtree and Graham Harrell will be gone from last season's record-tying Texas Tech team that claimed 11 wins and earned a share of the South Division championship for the first time in school history. It won't be nearly as easy this year with a tougher nonconference schedule and a customarily difficult Big 12 South schedule that starts much earlier than in most recent seasons.
Here's what I think the Red Raiders have to look forward too.
Sept. 5 North Dakota
Sept. 12 Rice
Sept. 26 At Houston
Oct. 3 New Mexico
Thoughts: The Red Raiders will face a more difficult schedule this season with only one FCS opponent in North Dakota, compared to two last season. Mike Leach's team also faces a pair of tests against old Southwest Conference foes who both made bowl trips last season. Rice won't be nearly as challenging considering that Chase Clement, Jarett Dillard and James Casey all are gone from last season. But the return of Houston quarterback Case Keenum, the nation's leader in total offense last season, will make the Cougars more of a struggle. New Mexico should be an easier test to finish nonconference play.
Sept. 19 at Texas
Oct. 10 Kansas State
Oct. 17 at Nebraska
Oct. 24 Texas A&M
Oct. 31 Kansas
Nov. 14 at Oklahoma State
Nov. 21 Oklahoma
Nov. 28 at Baylor
Thoughts: The schedule change announced last week will pose a huge early test for new quarterback Taylor Potts, who travels to Austin for his first road game. The Kansas State game will give him a chance to build some confidence before a tough game at Nebraska. Texas A&M hasn't proved to be much of a test in Lubbock in recent years and the Red Raiders smoked Kansas in Lawrence last season. They get a late week off before a difficult finish against Oklahoma State, Oklahoma and Baylor. It's likely not the kind of schedule meant to allow the Red Raiders to challenge for the South Division title for a second-straight season.
My best February guess: 7-5, 4-4 in Big 12 play.