Print and Go Back ESPN.com: Big 12 [Print without images]

Thursday, March 28, 2013
Texas Tech: Big 12 pretender or contender?

By David Ubben

We've heard from a few of you on teams across the Big 12, but today's poll will focus on another dark horse looming in the Big 12 title race.

Texas Tech bounced back from a frustrating five-win season in 2011 to win eight games in 2012 and return 13 starters from that team. Tommy Tuberville recruited well but traded in his headset for some Cincinnati gear. Texas Tech responded by bringing hometown hero and college football coaching wunderkind Kliff Kingsbury, a 33-year-old first-time coach aboard to try to get Texas Tech over the Big 12 title hump.

His coach, Mike Leach, was never able to do it, but Kingsbury finds himself in a much more level Big 12 with lots of potential and a talented team capable of making some noise this season, likely led by quarterback Michael Brewer.

The defense is a bit of a question mark after losing safeties Cody Davis and D.J. Johnson, but it should be strong up front with pass-rushers Kerry Hyder and Dartwan Bush, who combined for 26 tackles for loss a season ago.

Receiver Eric Ward and Jace Amaro should make Brewer's transition a bit easier, but the running game has been inconsistent for a long time in Lubbock. Will that change in Kingsbury's still-developing offensive philosophy with personnel he's still getting used to being around?

What do you make of Year 1 of the Kingsbury era? Do you believe the Red Raiders can contend? Vote in our poll. Don't think so? Vote pretender.

Let's see how it goes.