Best- and worst-case scenario: Texas Tech
With a good amount of returning talent but a new coaching staff, Texas Tech will be tough to project. I've got them seventh in my power rankings right now, but here's how I project the Red Raiders' floor and ceiling.
Other best- and worst-case scenarios.
LUBBOCK, Texas -- The immediate takeaway from the 2013 season in Raiderland?
Far more butt slapping this time around than headset slapping.
Kliff Kingsbury's offense looked the part of what we were used to seeing under Mike Leach out in West Texas, with a little bit of Michael Brewer's legs mixed in. Texas Tech announced its offense's arrival rather loudly in Dallas with a 40-point blowout win against SMU on Friday night, the first night of the season.
Two weeks later, it turned heads with a strong showing on Thursday night, knocking off TCU by double digits and looking the part of a Big 12 title contender. A pair of no-doubt wins against Texas State and KU preceded more solid wins against Iowa State and on the road at West Virginia, and all of a sudden, Texas Tech is floating near the top five and loving life at 7-0.
Not a bad debut for The King in Lubbock.
It's about to get tougher, though. A road trip to Oklahoma ruined Tech's perfect record, after the Sooners forced Brewer into a couple late interceptions to seal the game. A week later, Oklahoma State rolled into Lubbock and sent the Red Raiders stumbling to 7-2 in another frustrating loss, despite 350 yards through the air and 70 yards rushing from Brewer. Tech bounced back with a pair of home wins against Baylor and Kansas State, but a Thanksgiving night game against Texas to close the season ends the season on a rough note. Even when Texas went 5-7, they beat the Red Raiders. Tech has beaten Texas just once since 2002, and the Longhorns get the best of them again, eliminating Tech from the Big 12 title race and pushing them into the Alamo Bowl.
FINAL RECORD: 9-3
LUBBOCK, Texas -- Michael Brewer not distancing himself from true freshman Davis Webb was an ominous sign to start the season, but all was forgiven when the Red Raiders rallied late to erase a double-digit, fourth-quarter deficit and beat their former Southwest Conference rivals in Dallas.
That was just first-game jitters, getting some kinks out with a new staff, right?
A 20-point beatdown at home on national television two weeks later from TCU would certainly disagree with that assessment. The Red Raiders ripped off three consecutive wins to reach 4-1 and inspire some optimism, but got outgunned in Morgantown in a close loss to the Mountaineers. A week later, the wheels started to rattle. Early struggles in Norman forced Kingsbury to look to Webb for answers at quarterback, and he had a bit of success, but the Sooners earned some revenge for their 2011 loss at Owen Field.
Webb earned his first career start a week later at home against Oklahoma State, but Kingsbury went right back to Brewer after the Red Raiders failed to cross midfield in the first quarter, and Kansas transfer Tyler Patmon picked off Webb to officially end his day.
I won't talk about the other three quarters. It wasn't 66-6, but it wasn't pretty. This guy didn't seem to mind, though. He rushed the field in the third quarter hoping to inspire his team, but even the most glorious of jorts couldn't rescue the Red Raiders from this beating and a season turned south.
Kansas State and Baylor added a pair of other losses, and Texas piled on the final indignity, making 2013 feel a lot like 2011. Seven consecutive losses is never a good way to end a year, but there's a lot of work to do for Year 2 for Kingsbury, who now has to wonder if Brewer really is the quarterback of the future.
FINAL RECORD: 4-8
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