Who Wins The Big 12? Texas Tech

Kliff Kingsbury

As I do each year, I spend a decent amount of time crunching numbers like returning starters, returning yards and points, returning defensive plays made, schedule and trends, intangibles, and more. I then end up predicting every single Big 12 game in the upcoming season, and the last three seasons I correctly picked the Big 12 champion.

In 2010, I picked OU and the Sooners defeated Nebraska in the Big 12 Championship Game, although I must admit I had OU beating Missouri but the Huskers and Tigers were both 6-2 in the North Division. In 2011, I correctly picked Oklahoma State and last season, with more than a few people poking fun at me, I picked Kansas State.

This year for the first time I'm going to share my game-by-game summer prognostication with everybody rather than just one post on how the league will finish.

We are well on our way with Kansas State (6-6/3-6) selected to finish seventh in our last installment. Earlier we had Kansas picked to finish last again at 2-10/0-9, and Iowa State is picked for ninth at 3-9/1-8. West Virginia has an unusual amount of turnover in coaching staff along with the player losses such as their best offensive linemen, Geno Smith at quarterback, and the dynamic receiving duo of Tavon Austin and Stedman Bailey adding up for me to 5-7/2-7.

Now, technically, we move into the upper half of the league and this first team is a surprise for some. Texas Tech is picked by most summer preseason publications to finish in the bottom half of the conference. We could say that is where we have them, but in our crystal ball the Red Raiders are tied for fifth in the league.

Tommy Tuberville was never a fit in Raiderland and that is made so much more obvious by the response in West Texas to the return of former quarterback Kliff Kingsbury. One recent Tech graduate I spoke with this summer enthusiastically told me that her school now had their "Mike Gundy." He is their guy. Nobody had to give him a tour of campus or show him what schools and towns he needed to hit in recruiting. Kingsbury knows what "guns up" means.

The former Raider quarterback hired five other former Red Raiders to join him and this is a young staff. It helps that Kingsbury is a coach's son and wise beyond his years. The youth of his staff will ache some in the experience department but will likely make up for it in the enthusiasm and relating to players areas. Not that I expect it to happen, but should Tech get smashed around a few times they will rebound faster.

Texas Tech has a gunslinger at quarterback in Michael Brewer, who is the son of former Texas quarterback Robert Brewer. He'll have a nice combination of veteran and athletic running backs and wide receivers in the likes of Kenny Williams (RB), Eric Ward (IR), Jakeem Grant (IR), Javon Bell (WR) and Jace Amaro (jumbo WR), and speedy Dominique Wheeler. The offensive line is really solid stabilized by young standout Le'Raven Clark.

On defense, Texas Tech returns seven starts with Kerry Hyder a standout on the line. But they will miss recently transferred defensive tackle Delvon Simmons. Will Smith and Terrance Bullitt are seniors at linebacker who can be really good if they will play more consistent. In other words, they have shown how good they can be but just haven't done it game after game. Tre' Porter could be considered a returning starter at safety as he has played a lot. They also return their kicker and punter, always a plus.

The schedule is a plus for the most part with a light nonconference schedule, potential easy games in the Big 12 on the road in Kansas and West Virginia. Trips to OU and Texas will be tough, but home games with TCU, Iowa State, Oklahoma State and Kansas State make all those games possible wins.

Honestly, my opinion is that Texas Tech will start out moderate and the TCU game could be an eye opener. I think the Kansas and Iowa State conference games in early October could be major confidence builders and from that point on Texas Tech will be a competitive, if not a tough out, for everybody.

Beware, Tommy T. is gone and Kliff K. is in, and the Red Raiders are going to be back in business.

Texas Tech Schedule and Predictions
Aug. 30, @SMU - Win - This one will be close but Tech has more firepower and plenty of fan support, even if they start off unsteady.
Sept. 7, Stephen F. Austin - Win - FCS opponent for Kingsbury home debut will be a huge blowout.
Sept. 12, TCU - Loss - Horned Frogs better be ready as Thursdays on the road are tough spots.
Sept. 21, Texas State - Win - An easy bounce back off the TCU loss keeps momentum going.
Oct. 5, @Kansas - Win - Last season these two teams played double OT but not this time.
Oct. 12, Iowa State - Win - Tech comes home to make it 5-out-of-6 to open the season.
Oct. 19, @West Virginia - Win - Student in Kingsbury goes against teacher in Holgorsen in a make or break game for West Virginia.
Oct. 26, @Oklahoma - Loss - Four-game win streak is halted but the game may be pretty entertaining.
Nov. 2, Oklahoma State - Win - Unbeaten Cowboys slip up in the middle of three game easy set as Lubbock becomes tough place to go again.
Nov. 9, Kansas State - Win - Great game in the wind in West Texas and Raiders squeak it out.
Nov. 16, Baylor (Arlington) - Loss - Briles gives Kingsbury a coaching lesson as Bears go 9-0 on the season.
Nov. 30, @Texas - Loss - Longhorns get badly needed Turkey Day win at Raiders expense.

Texas Tech Final Prediction: 8-4/5-4 (Big 12)

Here are the other team previews:
Who Wins the Big 12: Kansas State

Who Wins the Big 12: West Virginia

Who Wins the Big 12: Iowa State

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