A Worthy Non-Conference Foe

For the first time in a long time the Red Raiders will play a legitimate non conference opponent.

For the first time in a long time when the Red Raiders take the field on September 13, 2014 at Jones AT&T Stadium it will be a nonconference game but against a worthy opponent – the Arkansas Razorbacks.

"We are thrilled to begin a home-and-home series with the University of Arkansas," Texas Tech Athletic Director Kirby Hocutt said in a news release on Wednesday.  "Texas Tech and Arkansas had many memorable games while conference foes in the Southwest Conference, so this should be very exciting for the fans.  We feel like we will be placing ourselves in great position as we kickoff the College Football Playoff era in 2014, with a non-conference opponent the caliber of Arkansas and a challenging Big 12 schedule."

In the past few years the Red Raiders have played teams like Texas State, Northwestern State and New Mexico, which were the nonconference opponents in 2012.

Those three teams finished last season a combined 12-24 overall with none of the teams winning more than four games in 2012.

Not only did the Red Raiders beat the Bobcats, Demons and Lobos but absolutely dominate them outscoring the three by a combined score of 151-30.

In the upcoming season, the Red Raiders nonconference foes include Texas State, Stephen F. Austin and SMU.

Only one of the three teams finished above .500 with SMU going 6-6 in the regular season before stomping Fresno State in the Hawaii Bowl, 43-10, finishing 7-6 overall.

So to put it simply, with the addition of Arkansas to the nonconference schedule in 2014 the Red Raiders are taking a huge step forward.

There is never a doubt about the strength of Texas Tech's, or really any other Big 12 Conference member's, schedule when it comes to conference play but the nonconference portion has been a bit of an issue recently.

Arkansas will provide a few things to Tech; a worthy opponent in nonconference play and the resurrection of another old Southwest Conference rivalry.

The Red Raiders got to renew an old SWC rivalry in 2012 when Tech traveled to Fort Worth to take on TCU, which ended up being a triple-overtime thriller and now in 2014 another chance to renew another rivalry.

Arkansas will be coming off the first season under new head coach and former Wisconsin head coach Bret Bielema and possibly a return to postseason play following a miserable 2012.

Putting the 4-8 mark last season aside, the Razorbacks have been a quality program with back-to-back 10-plus win seasons in 2010 and 2011, including an 11-2 mark in 2011 including a 29-16 win against Kansas State in the Cotton Bowl.

With the wins has come being nationally ranked, which has also become a norm for Arkansas in the past few seasons.

In two of the last five final Associated Press polls the Razorbacks have been national ranked. Arkansas checked in at No. 5 in 2011 and No. 12 in 2010. 

Tech has the same number of appearances in the final Associated Press poll during the past five seasons, finishing No. 12 in 2008 and No. 21 in 2009.

So with two quality programs finally deciding to renew an old SWC rivalry, at least one nonconference game in 2014 will be against a quality and help the Red Raiders strength of schedule even more.

When the Red Raiders and Razorbacks clash in 2014 it will mark the first time since 1991, when Tech beat Arkansas 38-21 at the Jones.

With the addition of Arkansas to the 2014 schedule, the Red Raiders will host Oklahoma, West Virginia, Texas and Arkansas at home, which could prove to be a great set of games for the fans.

The two-game series will conclude on September 19, 2015 in Fayetteville, Arkansas.

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