Don't stop now: Bowl-eligible Red Raiders eye more distinctions in finale vs. OU
The Texas Tech football team achieved bowl eligibility for the second year in a row on Saturday.
The Red Raiders would like to check two more boxes on the last Saturday of the regular season: Beat Oklahoma and they'll finish with a record above .500 in Big 12 play for the first season since 2009. They'd also have the distinction of being the first Tech football team to beat Texas and Oklahoma in the same season.
"We talked about that a little bit yesterday," Tech coach Joey McGuire said during his weekly Monday press conference. "(Linebacker) Krishon (Merriweather) said, 'Coach, let's do it just so we don't talk about it ever again.' "
The Red Raiders (6-5, 4-4 in the Big 12) and the Sooners (6-5, 3-5) kick off at 6:30 p.m. Saturday at Jones AT&T Stadium. Oklahoma, which was 3-3 midway through the season and 5-5 after back-to-back losses to Baylor and West Virginia, got its sixth victory Saturday with a 28-13 conquest of rival Oklahoma State.
"They just became bowl eligible, too," McGuire said, "and they're going to want to go out on a good note whenever it comes to winning their seventh game, and so we're going to get their best game. They're going to come in here and play really hard, and they've got a lot to play for, too."
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McGuire said quarterback Tyler Shough will get his third consecutive start. If that comes to fruition, each of the Red Raiders' top three QBs will have started four games this season: Shough game one and games 10 through 12, Donovan Smith games two through five and Behren Morton games six through nine.
Each of the three suffered an injury that led to the job changing hands: Shough a broken collarbone in the season opener, Smith a banged-up shoulder in the Sept. 24 Texas game that was aggravated the following week at Kansas State and Morton an ankle injury in the Oct. 8 game at Oklahoma State that was aggravated in the Nov. 5 game at TCU.
Morton was available to play on an emergency basis in the Red Raiders' 14-10 win Saturday at Iowa State, and his status hasn't changed.
"He is not 100 percent (healthy)," McGuire said, "so availability is there, but we are not going to put him in unless we have to. We're just trying to get him as healthy as we can for the post-season.
"Tyler's done a good job of coming in and doing what we thought. He's getting closer and closer to where we really know who he is and what he can be. But Behren will be ready to go."
Shough, having suffered long-term injuries two years in a row in September, stepped back in after Morton went down late in the first half at TCU and has been the primary quarterback since. He led the Red Raiders to the last two victories they needed to be bowl eligible.
"It means a lot, because the guy's been through some tough times," McGuire said. "This day and age, there's so many people who would crawl in a hole and feel sorry for themselves. That guy hasn't. He's been here every day and come to work."
The Red Raiders have a chance to finish the season with three 1,000-yard passers. Smith has thrown for 1,505 yards, Morton for 1,117 and Shough for 632. Oklahoma State had three 1,000-yard passers in 2012, when Clint Chelf threw for 1,508 yards, J.W. Walsh for 1,564 and Wes Lunt for 1,108.
McGuire said he expects safety Reggie Pearson to return next season on the bonus year of eligibility the NCAA offers to all players who were on rosters during the Covid-disrupted 2020 season. If so, that would be two starting safeties back next season, as Dadrion Taylor-Demerson said two weeks ago he will stay at Tech to use the extra year of eligibility.
The Red Raiders have 23 seniors with the option of returning on the Covid-bonus year. ...
McGuire said starting cornerback Malik Dunlap (undisclosed injury) and offensive tackle Ty Buchanan (ankle) will be back on the field this week. Dunlap missed last week's game, and Buchanan missed the past two games. Tight end Mason Tharp (undisclosed injury) didn't travel for the Iowa State game and remains questionable. ...
Patience rewarded: Red Raiders look forward to second consecutive bowl trip
Tight end Jason Lloyd and defensive end L.B. Moore received team distinctions as scout team players of the week. ...
Texas Tech picked up a commitment Monday from Miles Thompson, a 6-foot, 165-pound cornerback prospect from Cedar Rapids (Iowa) Washington. Thompson told Red Raider Sports he will be a preferred walk-on. He had been committed to Northern Illinois from early June to mid-September.
Thompson fits with the McGuire staff's emphasis on speed. At the Iowa Class 4A state meet in May, he finished second in the 100 meters in 10.53 seconds and third in the 200 meters in 21.65, both personal records. No wind indicator was shown with either time by athletic.net, a track and field web site. ...
McGuire said the Red Raiders' uniform combination Saturday will be black helmets, scarlet jerseys and black pants.
Who: Texas Tech vs. Oklahoma
When: 6:30 p.m. Saturday
Where: Jones AT&T Stadium
TV: Fox Sports 1
Records: Oklahoma 6-5, 3-5 in the Big 12; Texas Tech 6-5, 4-4
Rankings (CFP/AP/coaches poll): Both teams unranked in all.
Line: Oklahoma by 2
Last game: Oklahoma 28, Oklahoma State 13; Texas Tech 14, Iowa State 10
Last meeting: Oklahoma 52, Texas Tech 21 last year in Norman, Oklahoma
Fast fact: The Thanksgiving weekend home game is Tech's first since 2008, when the Red Raiders beat Baylor 35-28 on a Saturday.
This article originally appeared on Lubbock Avalanche-Journal: Bowl-eligible Texas Tech eye more distinctions in finale vs. OU