As the 2013 college football season enters its second half, only three teams in the conference are undefeated in Big 12 play. They are the Baylor Bears, Texas Longhorns and Texas Tech Red Raiders.
While the Bears and Longhorns have certainly played well in the early goings- particularly Texas with their blowout win over the Oklahoma Sooners- there’s one team that should inevitably pull ahead from the pack and represent the Big 12 in the BCS. And that’s Texas Tech.
New head coach Kliff Kingsbury has brought a breath of fresh air into the Red Raider program in Lubbock, Texas. His quarterbacks, walk-on Baker Mayfield and Davis Webb — both freshman — have combined to lead the nation’s second most prolific passing attack.
What’s even more impressive though is that the Red Raiders’ defense, which ranked 38th in total defense last year, has improved to 30th in total defense in 2013 despite facing tougher competition. Texas Tech also allows just 18.7 points per game, the 16th-fewest in the country.
The Red Raiders are currently ranked No. 10 in the BCS standings and are one of the biggest surprises in college football. In fact, Texas Tech was picked seventh in the preseason Big 12 poll and was one of just four teams in the league to not receive a first place vote. Even K-State and TCU, two of the bottom-feeders in the Big 12, received first-place votes.
The star of the Red Raiders has undoubtedly been tight end Jace Amaro, who was voted to the preseason All-Big 12 team. He leads the team in receptions and receiving yards with 56 and 742 respectively. That’s been huge for Texas Tech, a team that has been forced to start two freshman quarterbacks due to injuries.
What makes the Red Raiders the favorites to win the Big 12 though is their schedule in the second half of the season. Texas Tech has just five games left after starting the season 7-0. They have two home games against Oklahoma State and K-State, while they hit the road to face Oklahoma, Baylor and Texas.
Texas Tech has already won three games on the road, including their season opener against SMU where Mayfield is believed to have become the first walk-on true freshman to start a game. The Red Raiders won that game 41-23.
The Red Raiders also have wins against the Kansas Jayhawks and West Virginia Mountaineers on the road this season as well.
The team also has some advantages in their last two games, both away from Lubbock. On Nov. 16, the Red Raiders face Baylor in Arlington, Texas, a neutral site game. That means Texas Tech doesn’t have to face a hostile crowd.
Then to finish off the year, Texas Tech gets two weeks to prepare for the Texas Longhorns as they have a bye week before their Nov. 30 showdown.
Finally, two of the three remaining unbeaten teams face off in the final week of the season when Texas and Baylor go at it on Dec. 7 in Waco, Texas. So if nothing else, these two teams will knock one or the other out of contention.
The Red Raiders have hovered around greatness for a few years. With Kingsbury’s arrival though, Texas Tech finally has that “it factor” that will lead it to a Big 12 title.