April 10, 2012

Over/Under: Two B12 home wins

The once feared Jones AT&T Stadium has been an easy place for opponents to pick up wins the past two seasons with the Red Raiders notching just one Big 12 Conference win in Lubbock during head coach Tommy Tuberville's first two seasons (Missouri, 2010).

This season Texas Tech gets arguably the best schedule in the country as far as fan interest, but can it apply to two or more home wins in 2012?

In to debate that are RedRaiderSports.com's Will McKay and Mike Graham in this week's Over / Under.

McKay: Under

First off, let me preface my argument by saying that this is a fantastic line. Two home wins is something that I can definitely see happening, three wins is plausible, and as recent history would lead you to believe, one win is just as likely.

When I sit down and look at the home Big 12 schedule which consists of Oklahoma, West Virginia, Texas, and Kansas, in that order, I see a lot of uncertainty.

Oklahoma is coming off a season that was mostly a disappointment for Sooner fans. They won 10 games, but losses to Tech at home and a thrashing at the hands of Oklahoma State derailed what was supposed to be a title run year. The offense also sputtered down the stretch after the injury to Ryan Broyles.

West Virginia finished the year with an Orange Bowl victory where they absolutely put the pants on a young, talented Clemson team. They were inconsistent for much of the year, but look to be a Big 12 title contender in 2012.

Texas, who I think is the biggest enigma of all the home Big 12 opponents and finished the 2011 season with a very shaky 7-5 record before winning their bowl game. I still think the Longhorns have a big problem at the quarterback position and don't have an answer on the roster. They should be pretty salty on defense and at running back, however.

Kansas will likely struggle again in 2012 after an absolutely horrid 2011 season. With a new head coach and a questionable roster, I don't see them getting much better.

The point I'm trying to make is that there is a lot of fog and a sense of unknown with the Red Raiders' home opponents. I see one team in West Virginia that will be a very tough team for Tech to beat. After that, it's a mystery. I could see Tech beating either of OU or Texas, but I don't think they'll beat both. At this point, Kansas is the only win that I see as concrete.

Home games have looked like the twilight zone for Tech over the last two years with only one Big 12 home win each year. While Tubs and Co. Will definitely be an improved squad over 2011, I'm not sure how much better they will be.

I'll take the under with one win against Kansas, but I could easily see Tech beating either Texas or Oklahoma and getting to two.

Graham: Over

The Red Raiders have one of the best home schedules in the nation, that's certain from a season tickets sales standpoint, but these teams also play into favorable matchups with Tech.

Texas Tech will host in-state rival Texas, national power Oklahoma whom the Red Raiders seem to give as good as they get, novelty school West Virginia and Charlie Weiss' struggling Kansas crew.

Will makes some great points. West Virginia had a lot of success in the Big East culminating with an Orange Bowl win while Texas and Oklahoma are complete wild cards and Kansas should certainly be a win.

What this all comes down to, in my opinion, is West Virginia. Can they play Big 12 football?

Let's not kid ourselves. The Southeastern Conference and the Big 12, top to bottom, are the best two football leagues in the country. The Big East's automatic qualifier status into the BCS has been questioned several times in the last year and rightfully so because West Virginia won the league with a 9-3 record compared to LSU's 13-0 record and Oklahoma State's 11-1 record.

West Virginia got handled by lowly Syracuse, 49-23, and lost to Louisville, 38-35, in addition to a 47-21 loss to LSU. The Mountaineers played two ranked teams all season and one of those was Cincinnati.

And then that Clemson team they beat in the bowl game -- I have no idea why Clemson is regarded so highly in college football. The ACC is another one of those leagues that puts out a mediocre product that will get handled by any middle of the road SEC or Big 12 team year-to-year.

West Virginia is not ready for Big 12 football. Head coach Dana Holgorsen's 'Air Raid' variation offense is more of the standard than the exception in the new league. Big 12 defense's know the aerial assault West Virginia wants to develop and West Virginia's defense has not been tested game-to-game by offenses like it will in the Big 12. The Mountaineers are going to take a step back this season.

With a Red Raider fan base interested in seeing the novelty school at home in what will virtually feel like a high-profile non-conference game, Tech's offense should be able to match everything West Virginia can do.

The Mountaineers will play Texas in Austin and Tech in Lubbock in consecutive weeks and Baylor at home before that. There's a loss in there somewhere and potentially two for West Virginia.

Why not Tech in Lubbock?

Then the two complete wildcards.

Oklahoma has not beat Tech at The Jones since 2003 and Tech always makes the Longhorns sweat bullets in Lubbock.

The Sooners look like they've taken a step back from what was supposed to be a National Championship type year and Tech beat them last year while Texas is a team that crushed Tech last season but has zero consistency coming back with the same players. One of those two games should be a win thanks to home field advantage.

So mark me down for wins against Kansas, West Virginia and one against Oklahoma rather than Texas if you're putting me on the spot. Three conference wins at home total.

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