Thanksgiving Thursday is usually a day you think mainly of the NFL when it comes to football, but the college gridiron will also be busy on Thursday as well. After you have got your NFL fix for the day the night ends with a Big 12 rivalry game between the Texas Longhorns and Texas Tech Red Raiders. The Longhorns’ annual match up against Texas A&M has not taken place since 2011 and doesn’t appear to be making a comeback in the near future. This leaves the opportunity for other rival opponents to take their shot at Texas on Thanksgiving weekend.
Last year the TCU Horned Frogs went into Austin, Texas and defeated Texas on Thanksgiving weekend 20-13. This year the Texas Tech Red Raiders get their shot at going into Austin to defeat the Longhorns on Thanksgiving Day. This game has Big 12 title implications at stake for the Longhorns and the Red Raiders would love nothing more than to ruin all of those dreams for the Longhorns on Thanksgiving.
This matchup of Texas Tech and Texas has certainly had its classic moments in recent years. The most notable game in the past decade, if not ever, between these two took place on November 1, 2008. The Red Raiders defeated the number one ranked Texas Longhorns in Lubbock on a touchdown pass to Michael Crabtree with one second remaining. The loss kept the Longhorns out of the Big 12 and national title game and will forever haunt Texas’ fans everywhere.
This year’s battle doesn’t have nearly the national significance as that matchup in 2008, but a big time rivalry game nevertheless. Texas needs help to win the Big 12 as well as them needing to win their remaining two games. The win for Oklahoma State last weekend over Baylor has put Texas in the rare situation of having to pull for Oklahoma to beat Oklahoma State in order to realistically have a shot at the Big 12 crown. The Longhorns must take care of their business first and that is defeating Texas Tech in a Thanksgiving battle.
In this game against Texas Tech the Longhorns will need a big game from quarterback Case McCoy. McCoy’s play has seemed to determine how successful Texas has been since taking over as the full time starter. Texas has really missed the playmaking ability of opening day starter David Ash at quarterback. Ash’s arm strength was a game changing factor for Texas and the Longhorns had built their entire offseason plan around Ash being the starter all season.
McCoy has done a pretty decent job filling in for Ash in Big 12 play, including a 36-20 blowout win over rival Oklahoma. He will have to have a game similar to the win against Oklahoma in how he manages the game and makes timely big plays down field. The running game was the biggest factor in the win over Oklahoma as well as other key wins this season. The injury to star running back Johnathan Gray against West Virginia has been a huge loss for Texas. Texas’ first game without Gray ended in a 38-13 loss to Oklahoma State two weeks ago.
The stable of backs that Texas has remaining with Malcolm Brown and Joe Bergeron will have to be huge in this game against Texas Tech. Texas relies on the running game to set up McCoy’s play action passes in third down situations. The Longhorns without a successful running game usually don’t see much success on offense and that was displayed in the blowout loss to Oklahoma State.
Texas Tech at one point this season was 7-0 and a top ten team in the nation. The Red Raiders dream season ended in a loss to Oklahoma and has gone downhill since then. Texas Tech is obviously out of the national title picture as well as the Big 12 picture, but a win over Texas would help make the season a successful one. The Red Raiders, much like the rest of the Big 12, have had an angry eye towards the Longhorns since the launch of the Longhorn Network. The bitterness between all of the Big 12 schools and Texas is understandable and games like this adds extra incentive for teams to defeat the Longhorns.
Texas Tech will look to use their air raid game to outscore the weak Texas offense missing several key weapons. The defense of Texas Tech has seen a huge amount of improvement since their days with Tommy Tuberville as head coach. Tuberville has since left for Cincinnati and first year coach Kliff Kingsbury has kept the program on track. This game could simply come down to how the Red Raiders’ offense is clicking and if the questionable Texas defense can defend the pass.
Texas being at home will be a huge key in this game and the emotion of a Thanksgiving game in Austin should help the Longhorns have a great game. The Longhorns also know they have something to play for and will want to send this senior class out with a Big 12 title after four rough seasons compared to usual Texas standards.
I feel this game will be a close one and very exciting to watch after a long day of eating. The Red Raiders will have success passing the ball on this Texas defense, but I feel the Longhorns will be able to slow them down in the red zone and force field goals. This will be the key of Texas winning on Thanksgiving night in Austin. If Texas allows touchdowns they will likely lose and if they are able to limit Texas Tech drives to field goals they should be in good shape.
I feel the home crowd along with a purpose to win for Texas will be enough needed to win Thursday night. Texas gets a win to keep their Big 12 title hopes alive and continues to send Texas Tech’s season on the downslide. Texas wins 34-28 in a very exciting game for fans to watch Thanksgiving night. Happy Thanksgiving to you all and this game will remind us of why we should be thankful for college football every day of our lives.