Texas Tech defeated TCU, 20-10, Thursday night to up its record to 3-0 and 1-0 in Big 12 play. The Red Raiders took the air out of the Horned Frogs' dream to run the league table without help while earning quite a bit of respect.
THREE THINGS WE LEARNED
1. Baker Mayfield makes true freshman mistakes. We didn't get a chance to see his flaws against weaker SMU and SFA defenses, but against an all-around talented power conference defense, his imperfections were exploited. He forced the ball into tight coverage, sometimes between three and four defensive backs. His game management needed improvement, taking too many delay of game penalties. There were times when he could have run to pick up a first down, or at the very least get back to the line of scrimmage, but instead tried threading the needle into coverage and came up empty more often than not. Mayfield's decision-making must improve before the Red Raiders hit the heart of their schedule. Fortunately for him, he'll have Texas State and a bye week to prepare for it.
2. Fortune was on Texas Tech's side on Thursday. Davis Webb's pass that was deflected into DeAndre Washington's hands and consequently taken to the house -- only to be voided after Washington's premature celebratory drop of the football. Add seven false start penalties on an otherwise disciplined Gary Patterson team, a 55-yard field goal that had the distance and was right on target until the Lubbock wind blew it just outside the upright, and an interception from Trevone Boykin who threw directly to a Tech defender on a screen pass that halted TCU's drive at midfield. They say to win championships, you need a little luck, and Tech certainly got some of that against TCU.
3. We learned that Tech's defense is for real. They went up against one of the better offenses in the conference and shut it down. Tech's 'bend but don't break' theory was in full effect as the Red Raiders gave up more 401 total yards and 23 first downs yet surrendered just 10 points on the night. That kind of production is necessary for Tech to have a shot at the serious conference contention, and they took one step closer to accomplishing that goal with a stellar performance against TCU.
OBSCENELY OBLIGATORY OVERREACTION
The Red Raiders look like they're in good shape to start the season 7-0. Consider the next four opponents; Texas State, at Kansas, Iowa State and at West Virginia. All games count, but TCU is supposed to be a better team than any of those four in the near future. Things get tougher at the end of October with a trip to Norman, Okla., but the Red Raiders should have some momentum going into that game. We all know what happened the last time Tech went there.
BY THE NUMBERS
107 - The number of yards Tech totaled on its first 10 plays of the game.
37:49 - The amount of time Tech held TCU scoreless.
9 - The number of tackles by Will Smith, a career-high, and also the number of catches for Jace Amaro, also a career-high.
100 - the number of passes Baker Mayfield had thrown before tossing his first interception against TCU.
13-5 - Tech's record in Big 12 home openers.
AROUND THE LEAGUE
A lot is riding on the results of the Texas-Ole Miss game, in fact, OrangeBloods.com writer Chip Brown said the Mack Brown era is on the line in Austin. The Horns will put their brand new defensive coordinator to the test while David Ash will try and put up points against one of the most talented young defenses in the country. It should be the most exciting Big 12 game on Saturday.
There is a rivalry matchup between Iowa State and Iowa with the Hawkeyes slightly favored. Iowa comes in with a 1-1 record while Iowa State is looking to pick up its first win of the season following a disappointing loss to Northern Iowa and a bye week to regroup.
The only other projected close game involving the Big 12 is Kansas against Rice. The Owls are a program on the move, and after a decent showing against Texas A&M, they'll have a chance to pick up a win against a power conference school. Charlie Weis and the Jayhawks are off to a 1-0 start after a win against South Dakota, so it'll be interesting to see how a team coming off a loss to an elite team fares against a team coming off a win against a FCS team.