No Moral Victories but...

No Moral Victories but...

The Red Raiders sure don't want to hear it, but they may have gained more national cred in an eight-point loss to OU in Norman than they did in all their previous victories. Now anytime you commit three turnovers and give up 526 yards, the performance was far from perfect. But the really impressive thing about Tech's performance has nothing to do with stats.

The Red Raiders sure don't want to hear it, but they may have gained more national cred in an eight-point loss to OU in Norman than they did in all their previous victories. Now anytime you commit three turnovers and give up 526 yards, the performance was far from perfect. But the really impressive thing about Tech's performance has nothing to do with stats. It has everything to do with composure, audacity and fighting spirit.

In big games, Oklahoma Memorial Stadium is the most hostile and intimidating venue in the Big 12. And make no mistake, this was a big game. And yet, after surrendering a touchdown lead and going into halftime trailing 14-7, the Red Raiders were unfazed.

After Oklahoma rammed the ball down Tech's throat to start the second half and take a 21-7 lead, Tech didn't flinch. They responded with a touchdown of their own. And a field goal. And a touchdown to retake the lead 24-21.

Then, after the Sooners tacked on a pair of touchdowns to take a daunting 35-24 lead in the fourth quarter, the Red Raiders battled back with another touchdown, and needed only a defensive stop in order to have a great shot at winning with a last-ditch touchdown.

Alas, it didn't happen, but you couldn't help but be impressed with how unflappable the Red Raiders were, and with how they repeatedly battled back under adverse conditions against a tough opponent in a nasty environment.

Adding to this impression is the almost outrageous approach with which Tech attacked this game. The Red Raiders truly live out Kliff Kingsbury's apothegm that "fortune favors the bold"—a rough analogue to Mike Leach's admonition to "swing your sword"—by playing the game on the reckless edge of aggression. Case in point was the onsides kick Tech, trailing 21-17, recovered midway through the third quarter.

The other signal moment of extreme audacity came with roughly nine minutes remaining, Tech trailing 35-24, and facing a 4th-and-2 at their own 45 yard line. In this situation, most coaches would have punted the football. A handful would have gone for it, but with some type of running play or perhaps a short pass. Not this coach. Not these Red Raiders.

Instead, Davis Webb hauled off and chucked a 24-yard bomb to Jakeem Grant on a fly pattern. It was an extremely risky play because it is very difficult to execute, and because the Sooners have one of the best pass defenses in the nation. But Tech pulled it off and finished the drive by scoring their final touchdown of the game.

This loss was not a moral victory because the Red Raiders fully expected to win the game. As such, there's no doubt that they are extremely disappointed and take no solace from the spirit with which they played the game. But the important point here is that this team is establishing an identity—much as Tech did under Leach—and are playing a winning brand of football. Teams that are mentally tough, aggressive and gutsy to the max will win over more timid and conventional teams nine times out of 10.

Now who knows what will happen the rest of the season. The upcoming battle against a developing Oklahoma State squad will be a hard one to win. Then there's Texas and Baylor to worry about down the line as well. But regardless of the outcome of the rest of the season, one thing is certain: the Texas Tech program is on the road to glory.

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