How to Not Lose in Stillwater, Oklahoma
You might want to do a double take, because that is not Fearless Champion and the Masked Rider in the image above. It's not even Cody the Horse. It's someone with a much more vicious past steeped in intrigue and plagiarism. That is the Spirit Rider and Bullet.
The illustrious Masked Rider was introduced unofficially in 1936, then officially used in the Gator Bowl in 1954. The Spirit Rider was introduced as a tradition in 1984. It's just one of a long list of things that Oklahoma State has "borrowed" from other universities. They started wearing orange and black because an early faculty member's father went to Princeton.
The Spirit Rider isn't the only thing the Pokes have ripped from Texas Tech, though. They also do the 'Guns Up' hand gesture and call it "pistols firing." Seriously.
The one tradition I take the most affront to, and I don't know why because I'm sure Texas Tech didn't start this one, is their 'Orange Power' chant. I think it bothers me so much because these Okies make the word Orange two-syllables. Here's some footage of the feeble chant:
"Are you videotaping this?" says the man to the camera's left. I can't tell if he's ashamed at the tenacity of the chant, or if he's genuinely impressed at this whisper yell going on. I've heard louder "Raider Powers" on the road in Fort Worth.
Of course, I might just be bitter because Texas Tech is 0-9 in the last nine tries against Oklahoma State, and are now tied 21-21-3 against the Pokes all-time. The streak gets even worse just taking into account trips to Stillwater where Texas Tech hasn't won since 2011, with Kliff Kingsbury on the field taking snaps. I created a visual representation of the misery at T. Boone Pickens Stadium.
Is Alan Bowman the next Texas Tech QB to prevail against the Pokes? Or have they stolen Texas Tech's winning tradition as well? I have taken a quick lesson from all seven losing QBs so that the Red Raiders may see a victory against Oklahoma State once more.
Lesson no. 1 comes from B.J. Symons. Don't get behind by a wide margin. In the 2003 game, Oklahoma State had a 41-14 lead early in the second half, and while Symons had a monster second half, he couldn't quite lead the team to an incredible comeback; the Red Raiders fell 51-49. Symons led the offense to 28 points in the 4th quarter, but Tech was too far in a hole for it to matter. The take away is Texas Tech must start fast, but never give up -- even if they get behind.
The second lesson comes from Cody Hodges. The better team doesn't always win. Texas Tech was 8-1 coming into Stillwater against a 3-5 OSU. Texas Tech left with a 24-17 loss in 2005 and gave up a touchdown in the final minute to lose the game. I don't know if Oklahoma State is the outright better team, but they are 14-point favorites. Upsets happen -- believe that.
Lesson no. 3 is a simple one. In fact, this game was on September 22nd, 2007. Texas Tech was 3-0, while Oklahoma State was 1-2. The lesson here is finishing the game. Michael Crabtree had 14 catches for 237 yards with three touchdowns. He also dropped the 4th down attempt with 19 seconds left in the game. Oklahoma State would win 49-45. For what it's worth, this masterpiece took place in the post-game press conference of the win over Texas Tech.
The 2009 game was an ugly 24-17 loss to Zac Robinson and the Oklahoma State Cowboys. Robinson, the QB, had 90 yards passing and 91 yards rushing. The Red Raiders had a duel effort from Taylor Potts and Steven Sheffield. Neither were good. The take away from this game is two-fold: Play the right QB, and figure out a way to win an ugly game. That's something that hasn't been done during the Kingsbury tenure. The game plan might not work. Adapt to the game and win anyways.
The 2012 game was a blowout. Seth Doege, the most underrated QB in the Air Raid Era at Texas Tech, was outmatched by an average Pokes team that was weak at QB. Oklahoma State had two touchdowns early of longer than 65 yards, and Texas Tech folded. The lesson is obvious, just like the Houston game last week: Don't give up after early big plays. They got you -- so what? Move on and make the next play.
As we enter the Kingsbury Era, I just want to say the fresher the wound, the more it hurts. Moving on.
2014 was a down year for Oklahoma State, but it was a down-er year for Texas Tech. The high point in the Oklahoma state was the debut of Patrick Mahomes, a true freshman. Turn the true freshmen loose, Kliff. Alan Bowman, Ta'Zahwn Henry, and Kesean Carter are the future, but more importantly, they are the present. Treat them that way.
Finally, we've arrived at the 2016 loss in Stillwater. The most recent. It was a 45-44 heartbreaker that broke the special teams unit for an entire year. Clayton Hatfield was remarkable in 2016, until he missed a PAT that would have tied the game. Now, you can't pin the game on Hatfield, but the 2018 lesson here is that you have to execute on Special Teams. All three 2018 contests have had mistakes by the third side of the ball. It will take a complete effort to beat Oklahoma State, who blocked two Boise State punts just last week.
I think the Texas Tech team, as a whole, has a very good chance to win this weekend in Stillwater. I really do. T.J. Vasher and Antoine Wesley are a nightmare duo for opposing secondaries. Oklahoma State is ranked 15th in the country, but that's based on where they were in the preseason before wins over Missouri State, South Alabama, and Boise State.
That's not a top-15 schedule.
Oklahoma State hasn't dealt with adversity yet. Texas Tech has.
Those are ingredients in Texas Tech's recipe for success. If Texas Tech can play a mistake-free game on special teams and get an early lead, I think Texas Tech can run away on offense. The two biggest questions are if Alan Bowman can dominate a Big 12 defense like he dominated Lamar and Houston. Jim Knowles, the new defensive coordinator for Mike Gundy, loves to blitz. It's not a simple scheme, either. There are complex blitzes and delayed blitzes built in. Bowman must convert on 3rd down, against pressure, if Texas Tech is going to win.
My Prediction: Texas Tech covers.
I think Texas Tech is the better team. They have the more dynamic offense. They have Dakota Allen. Texas Tech also has a monkey on their back, and until the team can rid the stench of this losing streak, I can't buy in.
Final score: Oklahoma State 49, Texas Tech 45. Another heartbreak in a long line of heartbreak. Maybe Oklahoma State will steal road losing streaks next?
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