A few leftover observations from Saturday night in Lubbock
Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin
Before packing up and leaving Lubbock earlier today, I was amazed at how quiet the city appeared to be.
Most of the fans staying at my hotel were mostly still sleeping. And with good reason, considering the wild game at Jones AT&T Stadium that many of them witnessed the night before.
But after I'm returned back home, I'm still struck by several things about the game.
- Texas Tech is the only team in the Big 12 that controls its destiny. If the Red Raiders win the rest of their games, I have to believe they will jump past an undefeated Alabama or Penn State into the national title game. The strength of the Big 12 Conference would enable the Red Raiders to rocket into the Orange Bowl for a shot at the national championship. All they have to do is when their next four games.
But that's a big if, considering the Red Raiders upcoming schedule, which I will pick apart in detail later.
- Tech coach Mike Leach was pleased with the lift his team received from the record crowd of 56,333 at Jones AT&T Stadium.
"I can't say enough about our fans," Leach said. "As I've said, I think that Jones Stadium is the best place to play. Tonight, even more so. It was just an incredible crowd."
Leach didn't even have a rebuke after the crowd charged the field, earning two unsportsmanlike penalties. It forced Tech to kick off after Michael Crabtree's game-winning touchdown from its own 7 ½ yard line. After a couple of laterals, Daniel Charbonnet recovered a fumble on the final play of the game to wrap up Tech's victory.
"You've got to give a little, too," Leach said. "How about up until then. The 7-yard line, you've got to like a crowd that plays on the edge."
But Tech quarterback Graham Harrell wasn't quite as forgiving.
"That wasn't real great when we had to kick from the 7," he said. "The fans were great all night. We can't hold that against them."
- An underrated reason for Tech's ability to win was the Red Raiders' running game. The Red Raiders netted 105 yards on 28 carries for a 3.8 yard per carry average Saturday night.
That might not sound like much but consider how Texas has stuffed the Red Raiders' running game in recent seasons. Tech produced only 10 yards in seven carries as a team rushing last season against the Longhorns and negative yardage in two of the three previous seasons. In the last four games before Saturday's game against Texas, Tech had produced only 79 total yards on 61 carries, an average of 1.3 yards per carry.
"I thought it was good," Leach said. "I thought it was a point where we set up a couple of touchdowns where we really moving the ball well."
- Did you notice that at the end of last night's game, Texas coach Mack Brown and Leach didn't shake hands? But it didn't have anything to do with animosity based with either coach. The wild scene at the post-game moshpit that was was Jones AT&T Stadium didn't allow the two coaches to congratulate each other.
"I never did find Mack, which I regret," Leach said. "Nationally, please let him know I have the upmost respect for him as a coach. He's the dean of our conference and has done a tremendous job for years and has been an example for years, especially for us younger guys."
Brown also said he regretted not meeting with Leach after the game.
"I'd also like to apologize to Coach Leach for not finding him after the game," Brown said. "I think this is the first time I haven't been able to get to a coach and shake his hand because he sure deserved it. They did a great job with his team and they played really well."