Texas Tech is expected to snap a four-game losing streak on Saturday against Baylor in the schools’ annual game at AT&T Stadium in Arlington.
That will do nothing to free coach Kliff Kingsbury from the pressure cooker he finds himself in with three games to go in the regular season.
It’s expected, though no certainty at this point, that the Red Raiders will begin anew next year with a new coach.
If it comes to that, it would be a difficult decision for Tech, and not simply because of the $6.7 million it would take to buy out the last three years of Kingsbury’s contract. Kingsbury is a class-act good guy, who, as an alumnus, loves the university perhaps like none of his predecessors.
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However, Power 5 universities can’t afford to be mediocre.
At 28-31 in five seasons, Kingsbury has struggled to get results in Lubbock.
This season, the acclaimed Tech offensive attack has struggled during the four-game skid, the defense failed to protect a 35-17 lead in a loss to West Virginia and a two-score lead against Kansas State last week. Kingsbury’s decision to allow the last 42 seconds of regulation to expire and go to overtime instead of trying to score was heavily criticized. Against Iowa State on Oct.21, Tech wasn’t even competitive.
If there is a prescription for Kingsbury to save his job, step one of the regimen is a victory this week. He must beat downtrodden Baylor, a program under reconstruction.
“They have the belief, we just got to find a way to get it done,” Kingsbury said. “Like I said after the game [against Kansas State], I felt like everything had played out well and we had done what we wanted to do and taken time off the clock, and we just didn’t execute at the end. But the guys were in it to win it, had that look in their eye and played until the end.”
Baylor, having cleansed its program of scandal and sin, has started its rebuild under first-year coach Matt Rhule, who registered his first victory with the Bears last week against Kansas.
“It was important for the players,” Rhule said. “They had gone so long, and battled for so long. It was something they desperately wanted. The way we did it … no gimmicks, no tricks. We went out and played defense, played offense, and made plays. We battled back when things didn’t go our way. It was the culmination of a lot work.”
Both Tech and Baylor are 1-5 in the Big 12. Tech enters the game 4-5 overall. Baylor is 1-8.
Baylor’s defense will be a sight for sore Texas Tech eyes. The Bears are last in the Big 12 in total defense, though sixth against the pass.
Before last week, Tech had scored only 21 second-half points in its previous three games combined.
“I felt like the previous games, we moved the ball at times,” Kingsbury said. “It wasn’t like we just stalled out. We just either didn’t finish in the red zone, turned it over or missed kicks. We were able to score some touchdowns. Didn’t have a lot of drives, but put ourselves in a position to win which was good to see. We’ve just got to find a way to finish it.”
The all-time series record between the two schools is 37-37-1. Tech last year snapped a five-game Baylor win streak. Between 1996-2010, Tech won 15 straight.
For Kingsbury’s sake, Tech needs desperately to avoid a bear trap against an improving Baylor.
“The thing that’s impressive is how they’ve gotten better throughout the year,” Kingsbury said. “I think when you have a new coach come in and he’s instilling everything he wants in his program, that’s going to take some time when you tear it down and build it back up. That’s the path they’re on and they played their best game of the year last week and that’s what you want as a head coach.”
Texas Tech vs. Baylor
11 a.m., FSSW