At Oklahoma, a bowl was taken for granted and a mere prelude to much bigger and better.
Somehow, Tech and OU found themselves in the same position with a game to go in the regular season, desperate to secure that all-important sixth win for bowl eligibility.
Both were successful, and Tech passed Iowa State 14-10 in the cold Ames. Oklahoma defeated Oklahoma State 28-13 in one of the final games of the Bedlam Series thanks to the OU’s move to the SEC.
Tech’s win was another important step in maintaining momentum in Joey McGuire’s first season. While few coaches might be as positive as McGuire, that mindset was tested when Tech (6-5, 4-4 Big 12) lost four of five games midseason, falling below .500 and shattering his postseason hopes jeopardized. The Red Raiders already had each of their top three quarterbacks exposed due to injuries and holes in the defense and offensive line.
“I always talk about how hard we’re training and how much we’re improving,” McGuire said. “It doesn’t always show up; We’ve had a few weeks in a row where this hasn’t come up. But we’re getting back to work and having a great week of practice, so it’s huge that they’re rewarded with a bowl game.
“We ask a lot of them and are extremely demanding, but we also like to have fun when we’re all together.”
Now, Tech is heading to a place most noticeably warmer than the state of Iowa on Saturday, with a gametime temperature of 22 degrees.
Not quite the Ice Bowl, but still pretty terribly chilly for a Texas team. McGuire gave his staff props for preparing every precaution known to modern technology or folk wisdom.
“I thought we had a great plan for how to stay warm, from hot cocoa and chicken broth to heated benches and Vaseline for everything,” McGuire said. “I think our equipment staff did a great job in having everything these guys wanted.”
The best guess is that Tech will end up in the Guaranteed Rate Bowl in Phoenix or maybe the Texas Bowl in Houston, not a bad consolation prize.
The Red Raiders are getting 15 more drills that could be just as important for next season as they are for the bowl game.
Another win or two – depending on what happens against Oklahoma this week – could be a good launch pad for McGuire and company.
The mood in Oklahoma (6-5, 3-5) was very different. While nothing will really save Brent Venables’ first season, OU at least beat their state rivals and proved they’ve improved from nightmarish preseason losses to TCU and Texas. A late-season slip against Baylor and West Virginia put that progression in jeopardy.
Instead, quarterback Dillon Gabriel had 289 yards and three touchdowns. The defense had four interceptions. Michael Turk averaged 49 yards on 11 punts and then proposed on the field to his girlfriend, standout OU shortstop Grace Lyons.
“First and foremost, we’re trying to develop a mindset,” Venables said. “Why can’t we? There’s a lot of guys who’ve been scarred. It’s not easy to heal some of these wounds. But our guys just bowed their heads. This is just another opportunity, another moment for us, this game. Really again, I think we have a chance that we can start again.
“We still have a long way to go, but tonight was definitely a step in the right direction, both from a development and a conviction perspective.”
College Football Takeaways and Sights from the Week:
– Texas ends the regular season Friday against Baylor with hopes of reaching the Big 12 title game against TCU. The Longhorns need to beat the Bears and hope Kansas can upset the state of Kansas.
– Though TCU kicker Griffin Kell previously missed an extra point try, his teammates were adamant he would end up connecting against Baylor. Quarterback Max Duggan said his only thought was, “Griff will win the game.”
– Are you looking for a reason for Baylor’s exit this season? After going 7-0 at McLane Stadium in 2021, Baylor went 3-3 at home this season, losing its last two games to Kansas State and TCU.
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