LUBBOCK, Texas — We all know there are plenty of things that remain to be seen about what kind of Texas Tech team will show up during the 2010 season.
One thing that is for sure now is that the eyes of the entire country will be focused for at least two of the first three weeks of the college football season on Lubbock, Texas, and the Red Raiders.
Both schools formally announced earlier this week that the Tech-Texas yearly grudge match will be broadcasted nationally in prime time on ABC (7 p.m.) for the third consecutive season and will serve as the Big 12 Conference opener for both teams on Sept. 18.
Tech will open the season Sept. 5, against SMU on ESPN.
This will be the second consecutive season the two teams will meet in the third week of the season. Of course none of this might be relevant had it not been for the Tech version of the "Immaculate Reception" when Michael Crabtree hauled in Graham Harrell's 28-yard TD pass to score the go-ahead points with one second to go in the 2008 thriller at Jones AT&T Stadium.
Now Tech will get its first chance to place a new image in the minds of fans watching The Jones — a stadium named the best homefield advantage by Dave Curtis of The Sporting News.
It's a stadium that's played host to numerous dramatic finishes for the Red Raiders in the last few years. Crabtree's grab in 2008 (which was also the school's 500th win and first over a No. 1 team); Tech's upset of No. 2 Oklahoma in 2007 to knock the Sooners out of the BCS hunt; Taurean Henderson's 2005 leap over the goal line to beat OU for the first time in six years and send Tech to the Cotton Bowl for the first time in 10 years — all of those among others.
Then there are the games that truly show a fear for coming into The Jones. How about two games in 2004 where the Red Raiders racked up 70 points against their opponents? After beating TCU 70-35 (would you believe it was a comeback win), Tech throttled Nebraska 70-10 on homecoming to hand the Huskers their worst loss in school history.
Many Red Raider fans love to brag about the 16-year curse on Texas A&M's trip into The Jones every two years, which was finally brought to an end with the Aggies' win in Lubbock last season.
But as the saying goes: "That was then, this is now."
The Red Raiders will play their first rivalry game under new head coach Tommy Tuberville against the conference opponent that has dominated them more than anyone else over the team's history. Unproven Longhorns will try to fill many shoes on offense and defense, most notably quarterback Garrett Gilbert — a player who was no slouch in his debut in the national championship, stepping in for an injured McCoy against the nation's toughest defense.
But the obvious pressure will be on Tuberville, and whoever he and offensive coordinator Neal Brown choose to be the starting quarterback in the fall. It took Mike Leach three tries to beat Texas (2002) but most Tech fans believe Tuberville has enough talent and experience to do it right the first time. And even more believe he should not have an excuse for losing.
A new era of Texas Tech football begins on Sept. 5 with the game against SMU, but a new era in a newfound rivalry begins Sept. 18.
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