The last year of conference shake-ups will come to a close as the three conferences move on toward the next season in what is sure to be a challenging one for each. Nebraska, who has improved in the past few years from the grim days under Bill Callahan, will have a fighting chance against Michigan, Michigan State, Penn State, Iowa and Ohio State, among others. But for Colorado, the program is now with its second head coach in five years, hoping to bring back some of the magic that was once in the Rocky Mountains when the program won a national title in 1990 and surged to a Big 12 Conference title in 2001.
For Tech, it's disappointing. It's disappointing because it was two teams the Red Raiders saw little success against early but had become dominate over in the last seven years – particularly with Nebraska. The only four wins against the Cornhuskers came in the last four contests and were a big difference from the days of Tommy Frazier and the powerful Nebraska option marching in and out of stadiums, almost without breaking a sweat, en route to two national titles in the 1990s.
So, in honor of their official departure from the Big 12 Conference, I wanted to take a look at what the top football moments have been for Texas Tech against the two schools. But given the short history of contests between the two, again mainly with Nebraska, it was pretty easy to think about the last four meetings against the Cornhuskers and last season's win against Colorado at Folsom Field as my Top 5. So here are the Top 5 moments rearranged in the order they should be in my mind. Enjoy and tell us yours on the BOARD.
I think I will refer to Curly Bill from the movie Tombstone for my farewell to Nebraska and Colorado: "Well … Bye."
5. Texas Tech 27, Colorado 24 – Oct. 23, 2010
Folsom Field has never been a pleasant place for Texas Tech – even when the Red Raiders had a good team and Colorado was struggling to find an identity under new head coach Dan Hawkins in 2006. The 0-6 Buffs gave Hawkins his first CU win with a 30-6 stomping of Graham Harrell and company. So it was only fitting that Tech return the favor of giving Hawkins one more loss in what would be his final season at Colorado. After going 0-for-4 in Boulder, it would come all the way down to the wire in the fifth attempt when Matt Williams, the kicker who went from in-game kicking contest winner to Red Raider football player, nailed a 36-yard field goal with 2:09 left to break the 24-24 tie. But the biggest accomplishment from the game was the switch on offense between Detron Lewis and Alex Torres. Torres switched to inside receiver and Lewis went to the outside for good the rest of the season. Torres finished that game with six catches for 133 yards and one TD. Lewis went on to catch 52 passes for 552 yards and four scores during the remainder of his final season after catching just 35 balls for 300 yards in the six games before the switch. VIDEO
4. Texas Tech 37, Nebraska 31 – Oct. 11, 2008
For a team that was mostly known in the great 2008 season for its offense, it was the Red Raider defense that came up big against the Cornhuskers to preserve the No. 7 Red Raiders' win and perfect record. But two mistakes nearly ended a promising season much earlier than anyone anticipated. Tech jumped out early with Michael Crabtree's jailbreak screen in the first half for a 35-yard touchdown to give him the school record for touchdown receptions at the time (31). Crabtree came up big once again on 4th-and-5 to keep Tech alive in the fourth quarter on a 47-yard bomb from Graham Harrell, who snuck it in moments later for the lead. But the Tech defense gave up a quick Nebraska score with 30 seconds left and it was Eric Morris who danced into the end zone in overtime for the first score to make it 37-31. The task of stopping Nebraska on the matching possession became even more important when Donnie Carona missed the extra point. Surely Tech would not suffer the same fate as the Aggies in 2002 did when they missed an extra point against Tech, giving the Red Raiders the open door to a 48-47 overtime win. Thankfully, a pressured Joe Ganz did not see Jamar Wall under the coverage along the near sideline as Wall picked the ball out of the air and stepped out of bounds to seal the win. VIDEO
3. Texas Tech 26, Colorado 21 – Nov. 1, 2003
It was not the most well-played game by the Red Raiders during the 2003 campaign and Colorado certainly was not the big opponent it had been in the past, but Nov. 1 ended up being a historical date in Texas Tech history – only to be trumped five years later on the very same day. Texas Tech slowly climbed back in the game after the Buffaloes jumped out in front 14-0 in front of more than 52,000 fans at Jones AT&T Stadium. Tech cut the lead to 14-9 when receiver Wes Welker darted past the Colorado special teams and ran into the end zone for an NCAA-record eighth punt return for a touchdown, which still stands today. Welker would end the night with 211 all-purpose yards, capped by a 13-yard touchdown reception from NCAA-record setting quarterback B.J. Symons, putting the Red Raiders in front for good. Symons set the NCAA record for most passing yards in a single season with 5,833 yards and 52 touchdowns. VIDEO
2. Texas Tech 34, Nebraska 31 – Oct. 8, 2005
One of the greatest last-minute comebacks for the Red Raiders almost did not happen. Nebraska, looking to avenge a lop-sided loss in Lubbock the previous season on Texas Tech's homecoming, had the Red Raiders on the ropes during homecoming 2005 in Lincoln with less than two minutes to go. Tech squandered a 21-0 early first-half lead and allowed Nebraska to go up 31-27 with 5:10 left. Tech quarterback Cody Hodges had Tech on Nebraska's 12-yard line with a first down after converting on 4th-and-2 but watched an errant pass fall into the arms of Nebraska defensive lineman Kevin Smith, which would have ended Tech's comeback bid. But Smith tried to run with the ball and fumbled it on the Nebraska 18-yard line when Tech's Bryan Kegans knocked it out and Danny Amendola jumped on it to keep Tech's chances alive. One-minute later, Hodges hit Joel Filani on 4th-and-2, streaking across the back of the end zone to give Tech the 34-31 lead with 12 seconds left. It was the first win at Nebraska Memorial Stadium for Texas Tech, and the first homecoming loss in 36 years for Nebraska. VIDEO
1. Texas Tech 70, Nebraska 10 – Oct. 9, 2004
Homecoming became a consistent theme when Texas Tech and Nebraska faced off for the last four times. But when Texas Tech scheduled its 2004 homecoming against Nebraska, few thought this was going to go the right way and were hoping not to be let down like the overtime loss to Kansas on homecoming in 2001. But when the clock hit zeros, Texas Tech had just handed Nebraska the worst loss in the program's 114-year history as quarterback Sonny Cumbie threw for more 436 yards and five touchdowns. It was the second time the Red Raiders tallied 70 points in a game after pummeling TCU, 70-35, earlier that season. There were plenty of highlights throughout the night, but the game's signature play came in the second quarter when Cumbie hit receiver Jarrett Hicks streaking down the sideline for an 80-yard touchdown to put Tech up 21-3 just one minute before halftime. It was the first time Tech ever beat Nebraska in eight meetings, beginning a string of four consecutive wins against the Cornhuskers. VIDEO