Texas Tech looking to avenge losses to Iowa State
The signs inside Texas Tech's locker room this week are bitter reminders: Iowa State 41-7 and Iowa State 52-38.
The Red Raiders have lost to the Cyclones two straight years, with last season's anemic one-touchdown performance at home still fresh in players' minds. That loss brought the Red Raiders, and their fans, crashing to the ground after the team stunned No. 3 Oklahoma 41-38 a week earlier.
It was a thud that kept on giving. The Red Raiders lost their final four games, capping their first losing season since 1992 and receiving no bowl invite for the first time in 11 seasons.
This season, the Red Raiders (3-0) have shown strength on offense and defense. They're No. 1 nationally in total defense - that's not a misprint - and second in total offense.
Senior quarterback Seth Doege wants to erase last year's shellacking. And those signs, well, they are motivation for Saturday night's visit to Iowa State.
''The vibe around the locker room and the building is totally different than it was last year,'' said Doege, who has thrown for 12 touchdowns and 858 yards in the nation's second-best offense. ''We remember what happened the last two years. They definitely did what they wanted against us and we didn't perform very well on offense.''
Both teams were off last weekend.
For Texas Tech, a win over the Cyclones (3-0) would be a good jumping off point for a tough upcoming schedule. After Saturday, the Red Raiders host No. 16 Oklahoma and No. 9 West Virginia, visit No. 15 TCU and No. 7 Kansas State, then return home to play No. 12 Texas.
The game could turn out to be a defensive battle. The Cyclones are ninth nationally in scoring defense (10.7 points per game), while the Red Raiders are sixth (10 ppg).
The Red Raiders started slowly in the back-to-back losses. Last season, they fell behind by 21-0 and in 2011 by 24-0.
Coach Tommy Tuberville wants a fast start Saturday night but said that's often difficult on the road.
''It's been a one-sided game the last two years, and we have got a lot to make up for,'' he said. ''We are going to be playing in an environment that we'll have very few people that will be pulling for us. It will be a night game, which is always tougher to play when you go on the road.''
Cyclones coach Paul Rhoads said his team played well in both wins.
''When you play well and you execute well you've got a chance of winning the game, and we did that these past two,'' he said. ''I don't think the last two victories have anything to do with this football game.''
The Red Raiders have three running backs with more than 166 yards each, six receivers with more than 116 yards each in receptions and a quarterback who is completing 74 percent of his passes.
''There's plenty to be concerned about with this team,'' Rhoads said. ''They're a very explosive football team.''
Tuberville seemed surprised that his defense was atop the national rankings, while at the same time acknowledging stiffer competition ahead.
''I think we'll get a much tougher test the next nine weeks than what we have had,'' he said. ''I don't know whether we are at (No. 1) or not, or even close. But we are not where we were last year at this time, either. So we are probably somewhere in the middle.''
Texas Tech finished near the cellar in several defensive categories last year. Senior safety D.J. Johnson believes the Iowa State game will be a true test for the defense.
''The first three games, to us those are just kind of glorified scrimmages,'' he said. ''We were still feeling ourselves out, and this is going to be the first real challenge we have had, first game in the Big 12. So it really starts here.''