Joey McGuire has Lubbock buzzing after compiling an 8–5 record in his first season at the helm. Texas Tech’s best season since 2013 included overtime wins against both Texas and Oklahoma, as well as a statement victory against Ole Miss in the Texas Bowl. McGuire kept the momentum on the 2023 recruiting trail, inking Tech’s best class since 2015.
Now the Red Raiders are a dark horse pick to win their first Big 12 championship in program history. While they might be a year or two away from snatching a conference crown, McGuire has a dangerous roster at his disposal. Two capable quarterbacks are competing to pilot an offense that returns its leading rusher and top three receivers.
Texas Tech has a nice ramp up into conference play with games against West Virginia and Houston, but the back half is a minefield of potential slip ups.
Texas Tech Red Raiders
2022 record: 8–4
2023 record prediction:
BIGGEST GAME: at Texas on Nov. 24
Texas Tech athletic director Kirby Hocutt and Texas AD Chris Del Conte have discussed the possibility of these two programs continuing their rivalry once Texas bounces for the SEC. But with one year left in the Longhorns’ Big 12 stay, there’s been no concrete agreement, which means this could be the last time the Red Raiders travel to Austin for the foreseeable future.
If these two teams perform as projected (a massive if), the pair’s last contest, which falls on the final regular season game a day after Thanksgiving, could have sizable Big 12 Championship Game implications.
Texas Tech outlasted Texas last season in a battle of backup quarterbacks. Texas’s Hudson Card performed admirably, but Tech’s Donovan Smith converted six fourth downs to lead Tech to a 37-34 overtime win. Quinn Ewers will get his first shot at cracking the Red Raiders defense this year, while either sixth-year senior Tyler Shough or highly touted Behren Morton will have taken the reins of the Texas Tech offense by then.
TRAP GAME: at BYU on Oct. 21
Texas Tech’s solid season could’ve been outstanding if they’d figured out their road woes. The Red Raiders went a measly 1–4 away from Lubbock, and they lost each of those games by more than a touchdown. This season they’ll have to travel out west to Provo, Utah, to play a BYU team that could surprise college football.
Fifth-year senior Kedon Slovis takes over at quarterback for the Cougars after a down year at Pitt, but the experienced 37-game starter and former Pac-12 Offensive Freshman of the Year has the physical makeup of a potential NFL quarterback. He has an intriguing No.1 wide receiver in Keanu Hill. The former Euless Trinity standout has elite size at 6-feet-4-inches and 215 pounds. Texas Tech’s secondary was spotty last season, ranking 103rd in the nation in pass defense.
Add in the fact this game is after Texas Tech’s bye week and scheduled in between matchups against Big 12 Championship Game participants Kansas State and TCU, and things could get dicey for the Red Raiders.
POTENTIAL UPSET: vs. Oregon on Sept. 9
Much like Texas Tech, Oregon is a dark horse pick to win their conference after a solid first season under head coach Dan Lanning. This matchup in the second week of the 2023 campaign will be an excellent litmus test for both squads.
But Oregon will be at a disadvantage traveling into Lubbock, and they will still be figuring out their offensive line rotation after four starters departed from a unit that ranked first in the nation in sacks allowed per game. The interior defensive line is Tech’s strength with returning nose guard Jaylon Hutchings (50 tackles, 5.5 tackles for loss) and tackle Tony Bradford Jr. (9 TFL, 5.5 sacks).
Oregon’s secondary is also in major flux with three players moving on, most notably NFL First Round draft pick Chrisitian Gonzalez. Tech, on the other hand, returns their top three receivers headlined by Jerand Bradley (51 receptions, 744 yards, 3 touchdowns).
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