Over the next two weeks, we’ll continue to close the door on the 2013 season. Every Big 12 team suffered at least one loss during the regular season and losses can be as beneficial as wins. In this team-by-team series, we’ll take a look at the best loss of the year for each Big 12 team, including what happened and why it matters.
On Monday, we focus on Texas Tech.
Best loss: 38-30 to Oklahoma on Oct. 26. The Sooners snapped the Red Raiders’ seven-game win streak to start the season.
What happened: The Red Raiders and Sooners traded punches in a game that showed Texas Tech might be on its way to competing for a Big 12 championship under new coach Kliff Kingsbury. TTU entered the game with a lot of momentum and confidence. But the good vibes could have been shaken by the Sooners, who took a 21-7 lead early in the third quarter in a hostile environment in Norman for Texas Tech true freshman quarterback Davis Webb.
Instead, Webb led the Red Raiders to 17 unanswered points to take a 24-21 lead late in the third quarter. The true freshman was 8 of 9 for 136 yards and two touchdowns in the third quarter, as he responded to the toughest adversity of his early career. But the Sooners outscored TTU 17-6 in the final 18 minutes of the game because the Red Raiders simply couldn't come up with the key plays they needed down the stretch.
Why it was helpful: It provided invaluable experience for Webb in a hostile environment against a defense that was fast, physical and aggressive. The Sooners blitzed Webb 12 times, the highest total he faced in the regular season. Yet, Webb held up well, as his 84.3 Adjusted QBR against the Sooners was his best performance in a loss.
That experience paid off in the National University Holiday Bowl as Webb saw a blitz 23 times, throwing for 163 yards and three touchdowns on those plays in TTU’s 37-23 win over Arizona State. The loss in Norman, Okla., should continue paying off in 2014, as Webb is slated to be the main man under center for the Red Raiders.
Its loss in Norman was the most important of 2013 because it planted seeds that bloomed against ASU, a critical win that changed the perception of Kingsbury’s first season in Lubbock. And those seeds should continue to bloom during his sophomore season when Tech looks to insert itself into the Big 12 title race.
Revealing stat: 66.7 percent. Webb completed 8 of 12 passes for 82 yards and one touchdown against the blitz versus OU, a sign he wasn’t rattled by the atmosphere or the OU defense. That was his top completion percentage against the blitz in 2013.
Quote of note: “I was really proud of the way [Webb] played. He hung in there the whole game and made some big time throws. He had a rough start, but he got it rolling there after the first quarter.” -- Kingsbury