Much like West Virginia, the Texas Tech Red Raiders have had plenty of opportunities to spring upsets against the Big 12’s top teams this season, but late-game breakdowns have left them on the losing side time after time.
Just last week the Red Raiders had No. 12 Oklahoma State on the ropes in Lubbock, holding a three-score lead on three separate occasions in the first half, but faltered in the fourth quarter as the Cowboys came storming back to steal an impressive 70-53 win.
While the final score might not lead you to believe this one was all that close late, the Cowboys scored a pair of touchdowns in the final four minutes of the gap to close out a game that seemed like it would come down to the final possession when Tech cut OSU’s lead to 56-53 with just under five minutes remaining. Head coach Kliff Kingsbury said there were just a few plays that ultimately cost his team its chance at the upset.
“I think just the fourth and a foot there that we fumbled the snap going in, and then the other interception in the red zone there. Just kind of going back and forth at that point, we stumbled, and they didn't,” Kingsbury said.
“I think you've got to give credit to Oklahoma State. That's a team that's come back from some deficits. They've won a bunch of games and that wasn't a new situation to them, and they came back and adjusted and played at a higher level.”
Earlier in the season the script was much the same when the Red Raiders were a miracle tipped touchdown reception on 4th-and-goal by TCU’s Aaron Green away from beating the Horned Frogs and shaking up the college football landscape.
A different outcome on a select few plays could have the Red Raiders sitting at 7-2 and in the top-25, rather than 5-4 and in the middle of the pack in the Big 12. Kingsbury said there isn’t one thing you can point to as a coach in order to take your team over the top in those games, they just have to find a way to pull one out to get used to the feeling of coming away with wins on those situations.
“You just have to do it until they get that sensation I guess. It's nothing you can coach out of them, I don't think. We just have to do it. We had a couple opportunities this year to win games late and haven't done it against highly-ranked teams. So it's something we've got to keep working on and find ways to do it at the end,” Kingsbury said.
This week, the Red Raiders head to Morgantown to take on a team that has seen their season follow a similar script in the Mountaineers. Kingsbury said he realizes WVU has had its issues in close games this year as well, and will likely present more of a challenge than you would expect if you just looked at its 3-4 record.
“They've played very good teams in this stretch. I think the same losses we have are the ones they have against highly-ranked teams. They're a good football team. Very good defensively, senior-laden group there at linebackers. Then offensively I think Dana's doing a good job of adjusting to his personnel, running the ball more. They have a great running back, a quarterback that can run around. It's a very good football team. They just ran up against very good competition as well,” he said.