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Friday, October 20, 2017

Football

Series History: Cougars began dominance, Tech responded


The Cougars suffered a 35-20 loss in Lubbock when the schools last met in 2010. | Photo courtesy of The Daily Toreador

The Texas Tech Red Raiders are headed to Houston to face off against the Cougars in a Saturday morning matchup that effectively renews a historic series between former conference opponents. Although not viewed as rivals, the teams have squared off dozens of times over the years, resulting in mixed outcomes for both sides.

Houston and Tech have met 30 times on the gridiron dating back to 1951 when the Cougars kicked things off with a 6-0 victory. Luckily for all, the ensuing meetings entailed more scoring — a theme that has persisted ever since.

The Cougars are 18-11-1 against the Red Raiders, but the record does not tell the full story. Despite Houston’s success in the win column, Texas Tech averages two points per game more than the Cougars in overall differential and has outscored the Houston by 59 points across the meetings.

Former members of the Southwest Conference, the universities played each other every year from 1976 to 1995 with Houston owning a 12-7-1 record during the span.

The Cougars enjoyed a 12-1-1 record against the Red Raiders in a remarkable run spanning from 1976 to 1990.

Texas Tech had the last laugh in the waning years of the SWC by winning the final five conference matchups between the pair. During this time, the teams battled it out in back-to-back seasons in San Antonio with Tech winning 58-7 in 1993 and 34-0 a year later.

The schools would not play again until the 2009 season when the No. 17-ranked Cougars narrowly avoided an upset at the hands of the Red Raiders. Thanks to a four-yard rushing touchdown by former quarterback Case Keenum with 43-seconds remaining, the Cougars sealed a 34-33 victory, treating fans at Robertson Stadium to one of the most exciting games in school history.

Just a year later in 2010, the Red Raiders avenged the defeat by handing the Cougars a 35-20 loss in Lubbock. The matchup marks the last time the two have faced each other, and the seven-year hiatus has seen both teams usher in new eras of football.

Coached by Kliff Kingsbury — a former UH assistant coach — the Red Raiders have solidified themselves as one of the top offenses in college football. Ranking in the top five in points per game each of the last two seasons, Texas Tech relies solely on outscoring opponents to find the win column.

Houston uses a balanced offensive scheme to control time of possessions and minimize risks. The Cougars are not as flashy as Saturday’s opponent, but boasting one of the best defenses in the country allows Houston to move towards a more traditional play style.

The 2017 chapter of this historic series holds more weight than just interstate bragging rights.

UH is trying to maintain its success against Power Five Conference opponents while TTU must avoid a nonconference loss before commencing Big 12 play. Fortunately, whoever doesn’t come out on top must wait only until next season to get another shot, as the teams are scheduled for a rematch in Lubbock on Sept. 15, 2018.

Kickoff is set for 11 a.m. Saturday at TDECU Stadium.

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