- When the temperature hits 22 at kick-off, and that’s the high point of the evening, the atmospheric conditions can be a distraction, especially for guys who hail mostly from the balmy state of Texas. Thoughts of a warm dressing room after the game could possibly teach focus on the task at hand.
At least that seems like a logical assumption. But maybe it’s just a civilian’s point of view, imagining how he would behave in similar circumstances. What is certain is that the icy Iowa air imposed no handicap on the Texas Tech Red Raiders. The weather may have caused visitors from the south to concentrate even more intensively than would have been the case under normal conditions. Because it was discipline and focus that won this game for Texas Tech.
Statistically, the State of Iowa should have won this game. The Cyclones won the turnover fight 1-0, defeated Texas Tech 422-226, recorded 22 first downs against Texas Techs 14, passed 294 yards to Texas Techs 141 and averaged 5.3 yards per game Texas Tech’s 4.2. Additionally, the above occurred on the Iowa State home lawn.
But there were two telltale areas where the Red Raiders were decidedly better. First, Texas Tech has committed just one eight-yard penalty while the state of Iowa has had six 40-yard violations. I don’t have the historical record handy, but I bet you’d have to go back really, really long to find a game where Texas Tech did better on penalties. As far as I know, tonight’s performance was the highest grade in school history.
That’s where discipline is for you. The Red Raiders just didn’t beat themselves, with the exception of Myles Price’s fumble in the game’s opening series. And it’s amazing how much better you are when you don’t screw it up.
Iowa State’s overall penalty wasn’t bad, but in a tight defensive fight like this, even a mere false start penalty practically dooms a drive, and that’s happened repeatedly to the Cyclones. And it was a major factor in the outcome of the game.
Texas Tech also shone in the red. The Red Raiders only ventured into this area twice, but conceded both forays for touchdowns. The Cyclones, on the other hand, went into the red zone five times but only scored once, and that was a field goal.
Texas Tech’s offense as they neared the goalposts was excellent and shouldn’t be neglected. What was truly heroic, however, was the defense’s performance in the face of threats. In particular, two goal-line posts of legendary format.
The first came midway through the third quarter as the Red Raiders maintained a tenuous 7-3 lead. A 37-yard pass from Hunter Dekkers to Dimitri Stanley saw Iowa State finish 1st and 10th at the Texas Tech 11. The ISU was chosen to run Eli Sanders four times in a row. The first run put nine yards into the net. Joseph Adedire rejected the second attempt, and Jesia Pierre the next two. The four rushes hit six yards, and the Cyclones turned it over on downs. Texas Tech’s lead remained intact.
The state of Iowa ventured deep into tech territory on its next possession. Dekkers hit Sanders with a 15-yard smack to make it Red Raider 10’s 1st-and-goal. Marquis Water dropped Sanders for a two-yard loss on first down. On the second down, Dekkers completed Sanders for 10 yards to tech two. Sanders is in no hurry on the third down. And on the fourth below Tony Bradford sacked Dekkers for a three-yard loss.
Those two Herculean goal-line scores were the biggest, and possibly most important, moments in Texas Tech’s victory. Defense has returned to west Texas for the first time since the Spike Age.
- Adrian Frie was outstanding in the absence of Malik Dunlap. I didn’t know he had that in him.
- Bradford and Jaylon Hutchings were excellent inside. They combined for 10 tackles, 1.5 sacks and a quarterback rush.
- Tahj Brooks and SaRodorick Thompson both averaged five yards per carry against a super-strong Iowa State defense. They probably should have gotten more touches. Meanwhile, for the second game in a row, Tyler Shough had several great runs. His sizzling performance against Kansas last week was no fluke.
- Myles Cole blocked a kick and forced a holding penalty. Those were great contributions.
- Tech’s recipients didn’t do much in this case. They were rarely even opened. However, Nehemiah Martinez had physical runs after the catch in his three receptions. If you’re looking for toughness from this group of recipients, he’s it.