LUBBOCK, Texas —So it wasn’t simply the emotion of playing No. 1 at home that brought out the best in Texas Tech last week. The Red Raiders just might be that good.
Proving the No. 2 ranking and win over Texas was no fluke, Graham Harrell and Michael Crabtree picked up where they left off, scoring touchdown after touchdown and turning a showdown with No. 8 Oklahoma State into a 56-20 rout Saturday night.
After losing a fumble on the game-opening drive, Harrell led the Red Raiders to touchdowns on their next seven drives, capping three of them with TD passes to Crabtree, the big, strong sophomore who might be the nation’s most dangerous receiver.
Now that Texas Tech (10-0, 6-0 Big 12) has gotten by two straight top-10 foes, one more awaits: No. 6 Oklahoma. In Norman.
At least the Red Raiders have next weekend off to get ready for yet another game that will be billed as the most important in school history. The stakes will be high—the biggest remaining obstacle to winning the Big 12 South, earning a spot in the conference title game and playing their way into the national championship game.
Harrell finished 40-of-50 for 456 yards and six touchdowns. He lost two fumbles but didn’t throw an interception and wasn’t sacked. He was rarely even pressured as Texas Tech won its 12th straight game, the longest streak in the nation and best in school history.
Crabtree caught eight passes for 89 yards and the three scores. Nine other Red Raiders caught passes on the way to piling up 629 yards—still less than the 718 yards gained in a 49-45 loss to Oklahoma State last year, a game best remembered for the post-game “I’m a man! I’m 40!” rant by Cowboys coach Mike Gundy.
A more-composed Gundy and Oklahoma State (8-2, 4-2) came into this game seeking the same goals as Texas Tech. If the Cowboys had won, there would’ve been a four-way tie atop the division with the Sooners their last remaining obstacle, too.
Things looked good for them early, when Kendall Hunter scored on a 2-yard run three plays after Oklahoma State’s recovery of a fumbled snap by Harrell. The Cowboys led 7-0 after only 2:30 and the crowd that provided such a boost against Texas the previous Saturday night went silent.
Yet Harrell, the nation’s leading passer, marched the Red Raiders 80 yards in five plays. He took them 70 yards on the next drive, then 97 and 72, spreading the ball around, while saving the most important plays for his main man, Crabtree. It was 28-14 at the half and Texas Tech already had 312 yards against a defense allowing an average of 357.4 yards per game.
The only thing that slowed the Red Raiders was the halftime show.
Oklahoma State had the ball to start the second half, driving to get within a touchdown. But tight end Brandon Pettigrew fumbled near midfield and Harrell went back to work. He finished a 48-yard drive with an 8-yard slant to Crabtree, putting Texas Tech up 35-14 and putting Oklahoma State down by its largest deficit of the season.
Crabtree celebrated by going to the back of the end zone and staring into television cameras, perhaps fighting off the urge to strike the Heisman Trophy pose, while a few tortillas flew from the student sections, a longtime tradition that’s waned since rules against it were stiffened. Nonetheless, a few more tortillas came slicing through the air like Frisbees when Crabtree caught a fade for another touchdown on the next drive.
Oklahoma State scored between Crabtree’s two touchdowns and still had a chance to make things interesting by starting the fourth quarter at the Texas Tech 20.
But Zac Robinson was sacked, then forced to scramble and throw the ball away. Under heavy pressure again on third down, he threw too quickly toward the end zone and was intercepted at the 4. Harrell took over and drove 96 yards for the exclamation-point touchdown.
The TD roll ended when Harrell lost another fumble on the next drive. Then, he was done for the night. Backup Taylor Potts took over and went 5-for-5 on his lone series, capping it with a touchdown pass to Shannon Woods. Woods caught two TD passes and ran for another score.
Eric Morris led Texas Tech with 10 catches for 97 yards.