Tommy Tuberville: ‘What better way to start?’
September, 13, 2010
By Jeff Caplan | ESPNDallas.com
A quirky schedule for the second consecutive season will pit the No. 6 Texas Longhorns against the Texas Tech Red Raiders.
Texas has won two of the last three meetings, but no one has forgotten the 2008 battle in Lubbock when Texas nearly sealed the game and the Big 12 South championship with a late interception, only to be foiled by a Michael Crabtree touchdown in the waning seconds.
"I watched the game myself," first-year Tech coach Tommy Tuberville. "I think it was one of the best college football games I've seen in a long time...
"For me, my first game in the Big 12, what better way to start?"
But, is either team, although both being 2-0, ready for this one, this early? Texas has played two offensively unimpressive games against Rice and Wyoming, while Tech has shown great bursts as well as letdowns in wins over SMU and New Mexico.
"It has pluses and minuses," Tuberville said of the September matchup. "We need to find out where we're at in terms of a football team. We've had two non-conference games and you got to start playing [conference games] some time. Back when I was at Auburn, not always, but most of the time we played LSU around the third game, which was either a good start or slow start depending on how you play the game."
In the Big 12 South, one loss can mean elimination from the championship hunt. If Texas loses, the Horns will feel enormous pressure on Oct. 2 at Dallas for the annual Red River Rivalry against a seventh-ranked Oklahoma squad that just hammered Florida State.
For the Red Raiders, a loss Saturday won't be as detrimental to the overall picture in Tuberville's first season, but a victory over Texas would go a long way toward repairing a fractured bandwagon and getting it firmly behind the former Auburn coach. It could also get Tech on a roll in the Big 12. The Raiders have an unusual schedule this season in that it will continue with Big 12 play from now until Nov. 20 when they finish the regular-season schedule with consecutive home games against Weber State and Houston.
After the Longhorns, Tech gets a nicely timed bye week before heading into three key conference games: at Iowa State (Oct. 2), at the Cotton Bowl in Dallas against Baylor (Oct. 9) and at home against Oklahoma State.
"I think [the Texas game] gets us more focused on what we're doing earlier," Tuberville said. "The first two games went fairly well for us, but we didn't play up to our potential and hopefully this week we'll find out a lot more about our team."