NCF Nation: Taurean Henderson

Posted by's Tim Griffin

Taurean Henderson's hotly debated touchdown against Oklahoma in 2005 was more significant than merely providing Texas Tech with a controversial victory to finish that regular season.

The Red Raiders' conquest in that game was the first time that Mike Leach had beaten his mentor Bob Stoops in six tries. Most significantly, it helped establish belief that the Red Raiders could play with the Sooners on a consistent basis.

"That was a huge play for this program," Tech running backs coach Seth Littrell said. "It gave us a lot of confidence that we could play with anybody. And if you can beat those guys, you've got a chance to be really special."

 Douglas Jones/US Presswire
 Mike Leach and the Red Raiders visit Oklahoma riding a 12-game winning streak.

The Red Raiders have taken that play and used it to skyrocket to a place among national powers. They enter Saturday's game in Norman with a school-record 12-game winning streak this season and are sniffing at the school's first Big 12 South title and their first berth in a BCS bowl if they can keep winning.

But in order to continue their improbable run to an undefeated season, they will be facing the tallest of orders. Namely, to snap the longest home winning streak in college football as try to subdue the two-time defending Big 12 champions.

In the past, such thought would have been laughable considering the earlier struggles that Leach's team had with the Sooners.

Leach lost his first five games against the Sooners in games that were seldom competitive by a combined margin of 200-89. The Sooners outgained the potent Tech offense by an average of 138.5 yards per game the first four times that Leach coached against Stoops. Leach's pass-heavy offense barely dented a ferocious Oklahoma defense in its first three games against it, producing 8.7 rushing yards per game as the Red Raiders averaged 0.4 yards per carry in those games.

But the change in attitude among the Tech program is noticeable to Littrell, a former Sooner player who arrived in 2005 and has seen Tech's attitude transformed in recent seasons.

"It's always important to get that first win and that game was huge in that respect," Littrell said. "It got us to believing that those things are possible."

From there, the Red Raiders' confidence has only soared. They ran off 17 straight points in Norman in 2006, leading at halftime before losing 34-24.

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