Time for more schedule analysis, as promised. Here's a look at our next team in line: The Red Raiders of Lubbock.
Nonconference (with 2010 records):
Sept. 3: Texas State (4-7)
Sept. 17: at New Mexico (1-11)
Sept. 24: Nevada (13-1)
Home Big 12 games:
Oct. 8: Texas A&M (9-4)
Oct. 15: Kansas State (7-6)
Oct. 29: Iowa State (5-7)
Nov. 12: Oklahoma State (11-2)
Nov. 26: Baylor (7-6) at Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Texas
Away Big 12 games:
Oct. 1: Kansas (3-9)
Oct. 22: Oklahoma (12-2)
Nov. 5: Texas (5-7)
Nov. 19: Missouri (10-3)
Gut-check game: Kansas State. Kansas State is the team in the Big 12 of which I'm least sure what to expect (somewhere between 3-10 wins). Texas Tech is the team of which I'm most sure what to expect (7-8 wins). We'll have a good feel for both after this game, the first moderate conference test for the Red Raiders after an easy matchup at KU and an extremely tough game at Jones AT&T stadium against A&M (ampersands for everyone!).
Trap game: Iowa State. I'm sure Texas Tech fans don't need a reminder of what went down in Ames last year, but you can't count the Cyclones out of a return trip to Lubbock. Like last season, Paul Rhoads' team knows it will need to upset a few folks to get in a bowl game, and if the Red Raiders' defense isn't a lot better than last season by mid-October, it could be another headache for Tech.
Snoozer: New Mexico. The Lobos had a case in 2010 as the worst team in the FBS, and even if they improve, there's no way they'll be good enough to make the Red Raiders sweat. Tech beat them 52-17 in Albuquerque last season, and expect a similar beatdown on the return trip.
Chance to impress: Texas A&M. I've put the Aggies on upset alert for this one, and that'll continue unless either team proves to be substantially different than what it seems heading into the season. Texas Tech is good for one inexplicable shocker in Lubbock a season, and Texas A&M could fall victim. In 2008, it knocked Texas out of the national title race. In 2009, it beat Oklahoma by four touchdowns. In 2010, it beat a top 15 Missouri team after falling behind 14-0. Beware, Texas A&M. Beware.
Upset special: Oklahoma State. Or will the Cowboys fall victim? Two-thirds of the top three teams in the Big 12 visit Lubbock, and Oklahoma State visits in the middle of an uninspiring set of conference games leading up to the showdown against Oklahoma. OSU won in Lubbock last season for the first time since 1944, but the Big 12 scheduling kinks require a return trip. Will those ghosts return?
Analysis: Texas Tech, by way of its neutral-site game, is one of six Big 12 teams with a 4-4-1 schedule set up. That said, the road schedule for the Red Raiders is absolutely brutal. Texas Tech doesn't need a reminder of its struggles in Norman (45-7, 65-21, 34-24, 28-13 in its past four visits), winning at Missouri will be difficult, and lest we forget, Texas beat Texas Tech in Lubbock last season to move to 3-0 before the wheels fell off. That's a tough draw on the road, even if Texas isn't back to its usual self. I see Texas Tech making a bowl game somewhat safely, but the road schedule, plus visits from likely top 15 teams Oklahoma State and Texas A&M (news flash: life in the new Big 12 is going to be hard) will keep them from making a real run at a Big 12 title, especially for a team spending its time relying on offensive skill position players who have never carried a team before.
Click here for more Big 12 schedule analysis.