Greater than UT '08 and More

How big was Saturday's win? Well Joe Yeager takes a deeper look into it.

Greater than UT '08? All current Texas Tech football fans, no matter how old or young, have been blessed to witness arguably the two greatest wins in Red Raider football history. The first was Tech's 39-33 defeat of No.1 Texas in Lubbock, while the second was last night's miracle in Norman.


It's safe to say that the former was Tech's greatest home win and the latter was it's most tremendous road victory. But of the two, which was the greater?


Depends on what you mean by great.


The greatness of Tech's defeat of the Horns consisted in three things: the hype, the atmosphere and "the play."


Lubbock was in a frenzy the entire week leading up to that game inasmuch as the Red Raiders were No.6 nationally themselves, and Tech fans scented the monumental victory that was coming. The anticipation of victory was almost maddening and it was augmented by the appearance of ESPN's Gameday, Bob Knight's "I dearly hope we beat their a**," and Brent Musburger on the call for ABC. Lubbock was the center of the college football universe.


And Tech fans did not disappoint at game time. Dressed in black for Halloween and painted up like the Joker, they were a gibbering pack of demented berzerkers. And because of the fans, never has a team had a better homefield advantage.


The game lived up to the hype and the atmosphere, and it concluded with the last second touchdown pass from Graham Harrell to Michael Crabtree, which is the single most iconic play in Tech football history.


But greatness is not just hype, atmosphere and a single play. There is also the matter of accomplishment.


On the Tech end of things, almost no hype preceded the trip to Norman precisely because nobody gave the Red Raiders the slightest chance of victory. The Las Vegas sharks certainly didn't as they installed Tech a 28-point dog. And truth be told, many Tech fans would have been relieved with a "mere" 28-point loss.


They recalled with sorrow the 60-15 defeat in 2002 when the Oklahoma defense used Kliff Kingsbury as a punching bag.


They remembered when everything was on the line in 2008, and the Sooners brutalized the heroic vanquishers of Texas, 65-21.


And they well recall the 45-7 loss of last year, when Oklahoma put up 42 points in the first half.


Following back-to-back home losses to Texas A&M and Kansas State, another epic beat-up—before a primetime, nationwide audience, no less—seemed imminent. Suffice it to say nobody in Raiderland looked forward to this one quite the way they relished the opening whistle in 2008.


But the cringing fatalism preceding last night's game was directly tied to the stupefying accomplishment of the win. Hence, the Red Raiders appeared to be on a suicidal mission impossible, which compounded many times the shocking improbability of the victory.


Every Tech fan is now giddy with what the Red Raiders pulled off, and they are bursting with pride for their team. And rightly so.


But which win was the greater? I hate to creampuff out, but the answer is neither. The victories were different in every way imaginable and equal in their own way, too.


Tuberville's Signature Win: One feature of Texas Tech football under Tommy Tuberville had been its predictability. Generally speaking, Tuberville's Red Raiders won the games you expected them to win and lost the one's you thought they'd lose. Consequently, there had been no real defining moments in Tuberville's young tenure, no punctuation marks in his Tech career.


Until now.


Tech's astounding 41-38 road victory over the Oklahoma Sooners, the team the nation's coaches ranked No.1 in the land, is the first true landmark of Tuberville's regime.


Hitherto, Tuberville's most notable victories came in the recruiting wars.


No more.


The colossal erasure of OU's 39-game home winning streak is Tuberville's signature win. It puts his stamp on the program. It means that Tuberville has truly arrived in Lubbock.


And how ironic.


Only one week ago, following a terribly disappointing home loss to Kansas State, it seemed the tide was turning against Tuberville in the Red Raider satrapy. It seemed as though confidence in Tuberville, and the patience of Tech fans, was ebbing. The win over Oklahoma obliterates that entropy and replaces it with a mighty swell of momentum.


If indeed Tommy Tuberville wins a championship at Texas Tech, the terrific upset in Norman will have been the catalyst.


The Comfort Zone: The Oklahoma team Tech beat last night is comparable to the teams that demolished Tech in 2002, 2008 and 2010. Likewise, the current Red Raiders are not much better than the teams drubbed in Norman those years.


So why the dramatically different outcome?


There were many factors, of course, but chief among them is the fact that Tech looked comfortable on the field right from the get-go.


In the past, the Red Raiders appeared dazzled by the speed of the game in Norman, and intimidated by the intensity and physicality of the Sooners. Last night, on the other hand, Tech was able to execute its stuff on all sides of the ball without undue duress by Oklahoma.


The Red Raiders were in control. Rather than shriveling before Sooner might, Tech took the fight to the Sooners. They were the more aggressive team, the attacking team.


And therein lies the key to defeating Oklahoma in Norman. Play cautiously and timidly, and you will be a victim. Let it all hang out and you've got a puncher's chance. And last night, the Red Raiders decked the Sooners with a series of haymakers from which the home team could not recover.

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