Retro Red Raiders: Tech Never Looked Better

Texas Tech football never looked better than in 2008, but the pinnacle was not the upset of in-state rival Texas, that came a week later.

Texas Tech’s 39-33 win over No. 1 Texas in 2008 is often reckoned the “biggest” victory in school history and also the “greatest” from a standpoint of sheer excitement. But the best performance by that 2008 squad actually came a week later when the Red Raiders vanquished No. 8/9 Oklahoma State 56-20.

The Cowboys entered that contest with an 8-1 mark, their only loss a 28-24 decision to Texas in Austin. Oklahoma State possessed one of the nation’s best defenses, and in Kendall Hunter, the top running back in the Big 12. Then there was Dez Bryant, soon to be a receiver comparable to Tech’s own Michael Crabtree.

In short, Oklahoma State was a formidable foe. And given the distinct possibility of a letdown following the incredibly emotional win over Texas the week before, the “smart” money may actually have been on OSU that afternoon.

But this was a Tech team made of sterner than usual stuff.

Despite giving up the game’s initial score, a Hunter touchdown only three plays after Graham Harrell fumbled while getting sacked, the Red Raiders didn’t succumb to thoughts of being flat. On the contrary, Harrell rallied Tech to a tying touchdown on a 16-yard pass to Ed Britton. Then the Red Raiders scored another touchdown. And another. And another. And another. And another. And another. In point of fact, Tech scored seven straight touchdowns after falling into that early 7-0 hole. Tech never punted either.

The Red Raiders led 28-14 at halftime and held Bryant to one reception for seven yards over the course of the first two quarters. Still, when Hunter scored a touchdown on a 4-yard run with 7:39 remaining in the third quarter the Cowboys were within two scores, trailing 35-20.

But Texas Tech was not to be denied on this afternoon. The Cowboys didn’t score another point, while the Red Raiders scratched on a Crabtree touchdown later in the third quarter and two Shannon Woods TD receptions in the fourth, the second from backup quarterback Taylor Potts. Tech simply got stronger as the game progressed.

With the victory the Red Raiders moved to 10-0 and advanced their win streak to 12 games, longest in the nation and longest in school history.

Outside of two lost fumbles, Harrell played a perfect game completing 40 of 50 passes for 456 yards with six touchdowns and no interceptions. He spread the wealth, too: Eric Morris, Detron Lewis, Crabtree, Woods and Baron Batch all had at least 50 receiving yards.

Tech also played disciplined football, committing only three penalties for 19 yards.

This was the high water mark for the Texas Tech football program. Never were the Red Raiders so dominant, and never had that dominance been so broadly acknowledged across the nation. And with a bye week before the decisive clash with Oklahoma in Norman, it looked for all the world as though even better times were ahead. But a funny thing happened on the way to Norman. And almost seven years later, Red Raider football has yet to fully recover.

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