The last two weeks, we’ve been running dream and nightmare scenarios for teams in the Big 12. In other words, what a season would look like if every single imaginable domino fell into place. And, conversely, if everything that could go wrong, well, did.
Next up in the best- and worst-case scenario series is the Texas Tech Red Raiders:
Davis Webb picks up right where he left off in the National University Holiday Bowl, when he threw touchdown passes on Texas Tech’s first four possessions. After a breezy 2-0 start, Texas Tech’s high-tempo offense overwhelms Arkansas, prompting the Razorbacks to fake more injuries than the Italian national team to try and slow the pace. The ploy doesn’t work as the Red Raiders unload half-a-hundred on Bret Bielema.
Through three games, Webb has 15 touchdowns and no picks. But he isn’t the only positive storyline. Converted running back Kenny Williams proves to be an epiphany as an outside linebacker. The NCAA also grants a waiver to Ohio State transfer Mike Mitchell, who becomes Tech’s best defensive playmaker. Kliff Kingsbury’s juco signees in the trenches pan out, too.
Two weeks later in a Thursday night showdown, Tech finally reverses its misfortune against Oklahoma State and outguns the Cowboys in Stillwater.
Webb begins to appear on the radar for Heisman voters, and the Red Raiders get off to 7-0 start for the second straight year.
But the offense finally stalls out at TCU in Webb’s first – and only – poor outing of the year, and this time, the fourth quarter calls break the Horned Frogs’ way as they pull off the 16-13 upset.
Immediately afterward, the Big 12 blog begins wondering out loud whether the Red Raiders will succumb to another November collapse. Instead, Tech shuts those morons up, turning Texas’ trip to Lubbock into a nightmare on Halloween weekend. Webb gets back on track with six touchdowns, and Kingsbury keeps the foot on the pedal. Tech adds 28 points in a meaningless fourth quarter for the school’s most lopsided victory over the Longhorns ever.
The bandwagon fills up again, and "College GameDay" heads back to West Texas for the first time since 2008 to see the Red Raiders take on the top-ranked and undefeated Sooners. And in the ultimate payback for the 2008 debacle, Tech jumps to a 35-7 halftime lead, then “jumps around” the rest of the second half to bounce the Sooners from the College Football Playoff picture.
The Red Raiders finishoff an 11-2 season by pouring it on Mike Leach and Washington State in the Valero Alamo Bowl.
Webb beats out Bryce Petty and Trevor Knight for first-team All-Big 12 honors, and enters 2015 on the short list of Heisman favorite. Wes Welker is named MVP of Super Bowl XLIX. Jace Amaro is named NFL Rookie of the Year. Cracks are discovered in the McLane Stadium foundation, forcing Baylor to go back to playing in Floyd Casey.
Webb fails to build off the promise of the Holiday Bowl, and becomes a turnover machine. The Red Raiders win ugly in their first two games, but have a chance to right the (pirate) ship against its old Southwest Conference foe. Instead, Bielema controls the clock with a controlled running game, and with too many three-and-outs from its offense, Tech’s defense is on the field for virtually the entire game in a deflating loss.
The waiver never arrives for Mitchell, and Williams moves back to running back after failing to cut it at linebacker. The juco signees are all busts, leaving Tech scrambling along the defensive line all year.
Tech goes to Stillwater and still can’t figure out the Cowboys. The Red Raiders lose their sixth in a row to Oklahoma State, as J.W. Walsh rushes for 200 yards and throws for another 200 against a hapless Tech defense.
Webb finally gets hot, and Tech reels off five consecutive wins, including an overtime victory at Kansas State, to get to 5-2. But the wheels come off in November yet again.
The Red Raiders get pummeled by Texas, which completely steamrolls them on the ground. Meanwhile, the NCAA grants Baker Mayfield an eligibility waiver, and by the time Tech comes up on Oklahoma’s schedule, he has taken over as the Sooners’ starting quarterback. Against his former team, Mayfield throws seven touchdown passes, and after every score taunts Kingsbury by busting out the “stanky leg.”
In the season finale, Baylor puts Tech out of its misery with a 40-point win in Arlington, Texas, sending the Red Raiders back to Lubbock with a 5-7 record and no bowl game.
Mayfield leads Oklahoma to the College Football Playoff. Webb transfers to SMU. Welker gets traded to Jacksonville. Kingsbury goes on “The Bachelorette” and fails to make it past the first episode.