First-year Texas Tech head coach Kliff Kingsbury has challenged his team this week by posting signs with the number "98" on them in the Red Raiders locker room. That number is the combined differential in the score of the games the last two seasons.
One Cowboy has a chance to close out his career with complete bragging rights over Texas Tech and a former high school teammate. Daytawion Lowe proceeded Tre' Porter as the captain of the secondary at Carl Albert High School in Midwest City, Okla., and the two free safeties are good friends.
Oklahoma State linebacker Ryan Simmons played his high school football at Cibolo Steele, and won a state championship playing for head coach Mike Jinks. Jinks coached at Steele for eight seasons, but now is an assistant at Texas Tech. Simmons will be doing his best to tackle and punish the running backs that Jinks now coaches.
Finally, it is impossible to count how many folks on the Texas Tech campus consider OSU defensive tackle James Castleman a friend. There are plenty of his classmates from Amarillo High School that attend Texas Tech, and the current Red Raiders juniors and redshirt sophomores may feel a broken kinship to Castleman as he was committed to Texas Tech for a long time before changing his mind just before signing day to become an Oklahoma State Cowboy.
"I do hear about that from a number of people," said Castleman. "There are a lot of friends and people there that remember that I was committed to Texas Tech for a long time, but then I visited Oklahoma State and fell in love with it here and I have never regretted it once.
"For me, playing in Lubbock is going to be fun," Castleman continued. "I mean, my whole high school is at Tech. I've always enjoyed playing in Lubbock. Their crowd gets me hyped up because of all the trash talk here and there, so I'm really excited about it.
"I was fine with being the enemy going in there my freshman year, and I think I'll be fine going in there as the enemy again. I love this place. This is my family now, and I couldn't be happier."
It's got to be tough for Simmons to look across the field and see your high school coach over on the other side. Fortunately, he won't have to see Jinks after the pregame warm ups as Jinks coaches in the press box during the game.
"I love my coach and we won a lot of games together, but I want to win Saturday and then just see him after the game," Simmons said. "We just want to prepare the way we need to and take into account our coaches and our game plan. We have trust in our coaches, and we're just going to go out and practice hard for this game."
Lowe could see his former high school teammate and understudy in Porter on the field on special teams but that would be the only time as both play defense. Lowe is working on that perfect record against Tech and knows what needs to happen from a preparation standpoint.
"I feel like I have gotten better. I feel as if I've gotten better at being a leader and helping guys step into a role where guys feel comfortable with making plays," Lowe said. "We're a real together group to start off and we really push each other."
Kind of how he used to push Porter to get better back on that practice field when he and the current Red Raiders free safety were both Titans and dominating Class 5A football in Oklahoma.
The chatter has several more days to go and with all these connections the Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram traffic is noisy.
"I'm sure there will be a lot of texts here and there talking about what everybody's doing, but I honestly try to not pay any attention to that," Castleman said. "I just go out and practice like the coaches ask me to and play hard for my family and my teammates."
That's a good prescription to making sure you fly home Saturday night after giving your friends, your former teammate or your coach a hug and wink from the eye of a winner.
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