A Look Back.....2002 and Missouri

The 2002 Red Raider squad found themselves with a daunting schedule and a home stadium under construction. The west side of Jones Stadium was being upgraded and Tech would begin the season on the road against the eventual national champion, Ohio State. Coach Mike Leach had his work cut out for him, and he would give the keys to the high powered offense to Kliff Kingsbury for his senior year.

Following a 45-21 loss to Ohio State and future convict, Maurice Clarett, Tech traveled to Dallas to face a rowdy SMU squad. Following a brief benching of Kingsbury in the 1st half, Tech defeated SMU 24-14. Tech then came home to the friendly confines of Jones Stadium and defeated Mississippi, 42-28. North Carolina State would come to Lubbock the following week and the Raiders 51-48 in an exciting overtime game. The Red Raiders would then go on a 3 game road trip to New Mexico (W 49-0), Texas A&M (W 48-47), and Iowa State (L 31-17) to set up a homecoming game against the Missouri Tigers.

Kliff Kingsbury would have a record night against Gary Pinkel's team led by freshman quarterback, Brad Smith. He surpassed the 10,000 career yardage mark by finishing 49 of 70 for 510 yards passing and 5 touchdowns which allowed the Tech offense to amass 606 total yards of offense. Nehemiah Glover would have 3 touchdown catches; Redshirt freshman Taurean Henderson would have 2 rushing touchdowns, while Anton Paige and Clay McGuire rounded out the scoring with Robert Treece supplying the extra points. The defense, led my Aaron Hunt, contained Missouri's high octane offense enough to keep the game from getting into shoot-out mode. The Red Raiders would end up beating the Tigers 52-38.

Much of the talk surrounding the game was Tech receiving two 15 yard penalties for tortillas being thrown on the field. Coach Leach was even asked to take a microphone and ask fans to stop throwing the tortillas after the opening kickoff. After the game, he took exception to the rule saying, "I have a real problem with us getting penalized with the throwing of tortillas when you don't know who is throwing them anyway." Two weeks later, the Big XII would reduce the penalty to 5 yards.

Another issue that true Tech fans are sure to remember is Kliff Kingsbury's helmet being stolen after the Missouri victory. A young fan had asked for the decals on his helmet, which had been customary after Tech home games. While Kingsbury was shaking hands with others, the kid disappeared, helmet and all. Almost 3 weeks later, following a Halloween party, police received two calls on where to find the helmet. It was located at a home on 31st street. A 20 year old non-student was arrested for theft and released on $1000 bond.

Tech would then finish out the season with wins against Baylor (62-11), Oklahoma St (49-24), Texas (42-38), and losses against Colorado (L 37-13) and Oklahoma (60-15). The 2002 season record of 8-5 earned them a date with Clemson in the Tangerine Bowl in Orlando, FL. Tech fans received an early Christmas present from the Red Raiders as Tech dominated Tommy Bowden's Tigers from the opening kick and rolled to a 55-15 victory.

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