Ask the Red Raiders, and they’ll tell you, this November is different from the previous two.
Even if they look the same on paper.
In its regular season finale tonight at Texas, Texas Tech will hope to finally put its November fades in the past while also securing a big victory for the future.
“It would be great for the program,” senior defensive lineman Kerry Hyder said. “It would give us momentum for the bowl and jumpstart the 2014 season.”
The Red Raiders sure could use a jumpstart.
Tech has lost its last four games after starting out the season 7-0, climbing to a Top 10 ranking. In fact, the Red Raiders have now lost 10 of their 11 games in the month of November dating back to 2011.
“We have to end this cycle of losing games in November,” Hyder said. “Everyone on the team is aware of it, and we are working towards ending it.”
In 2011, Tech appeared to turn a corner under second-year head coach Tommy Tuberville in late October. The Red Raiders pulled off one of the biggest upsets in college football that season, knocking off third-ranked Oklahoma to snap the Sooners’ 39-game home winning streak and improve to 5-2. That, however, was Tech’s final win of the season, as the Red Raiders ended the season on a five-game losing streak to finish 5-7.
The following November went virtually the same way. Tech outlasted No. 23 TCU in triple overtime in late October to go to 6-1. But the Red Raiders collapsed again down the stretch, losing four of their final five regular season game, with the only win being an overtime victory at home over Kansas.
Now in coach Kliff Kingsbury’s first season, Tech is mired in another losing streak against a brutally back-loaded conference schedule.
The Red Raiders suffered their first defeat at then No. 15 Oklahoma, then fell in Lubbock to now seventh-ranked Oklahoma State.
Tech got off to a horrible start in a 23-point home loss to Kansas State, but bounced back and hung tough with Baylor for three quarters before eventually losing 63-34.
“We’ve played really good teams in the month of November and they’ve beat us,” said Kingsbury, who downplayed the program’s previous issues in the month. “I don’t approach it that way. This is this staff’s first season with this squad. So I don’t look at the past or what happened here previously.
“When we play the high-quality teams, we have to have better showings.”
Texas qualifies as one of those high-quality teams. Even though the Longhorns have struggled at times, they remain alive in the Big 12 title race with only one conference loss.
“Being a pretty young team, beating Texas would be huge,” said Tech tight end Jace Amaro, who pointed out the team has kept its confidence through this losing streak, unlike the previous two years.
Despite getting thumped by K-State, the Red Raiders still came out strong against then fifth-ranked Baylor, opening up a 20-7 lead over the Bears midway through the first quarter.
“The last couple seasons, we kinda laid down and let people beat us,” said Amaro, who had two first-quarter touchdown catches against Baylor. “There’s a different vibe around here now. More pride, more boldness.”
Tech now has a chance at a bold win.
By toppling Texas in Austin for the first time in 16 years, the Red Raiders could elevate their bowl status, while also putting those November fades behind them.
“We know we’ve lost four straight, but we feel like we could have won every game,” Hyder said. “Kliff has brought a new confidence. So we’re gonna keep fighting, keep grinding it out.
“And, hopefully, finish out strong.”