LUBBOCK, Texas —Mike Leach had a novel idea about how to break a possible three-way tie in the Big 12 South following No. 7 Texas Tech’s 35-28 win against Baylor.
Forget the BCS and head-to-head matchups. Go to the report cards, Leach suggested.
They are STUDENT-athletes.
“I think they should break that three-way tie based on a graduation rate. I think the Big 12 conference should have an executive session tonight,” the Texas Tech coach said Saturday. “And I think when they do that they will find that no one’s more deserving than the Red Raiders to win Big 12 South.”
Tech last month announced that an NCAA report showed its football team had a graduation rate of 79 percent to lead the Big 12. The NCAA report showed the football rate for Texas at 50 percent and Oklahoma at 46 percent—at the bottom of the Big 12.
The Red Raiders are really good on the field, too.
Graham Harrell capped a 21-point rally for Texas Tech with a touchdown pass midway through the fourth quarter and the Red Raiders kept their hopes for a Big 12 South title alive with the victory. Harrell injured two fingers on his left hand in the second quarter and is scheduled for surgery Sunday. The injury will not keep him from playing next week, if the Red Raiders have a game.
The Red Raiders would face Missouri in the conference championship next week if No. 3 Oklahoma loses to 11th-ranked Oklahoma State later Saturday.
“We wish them nothing but the best,” Leach said of the Cowboys game against the Sooners. “We’d like to go to Kansas City, no question about that.”
A win by the Sooners creates a three-way tie for the Big 12 South with Texas and Texas Tech, leaving it to Sunday’s BCS standings to determine which team will play the Tigers in Kansas City, Mo. The Red Raiders have little hope of coming out on top in that scenario.
Texas Tech (11-1, 7-1) won 11 games in a season for the third time in the program’s 84 years. But if things don’t fall right, the Red Raiders reward could be nothing more than a Cotton Bowl bid, left out of the BCS in favor of the Longhorns and Sooners.
Texas needed a Baylor victory to clinch the division title, and for a while the Bears must have had the Longhorns pumped up.
Tech looked flat a week after the Sooners beat them 65-21, ending the Red Raiders’ perfect season.
“That first half was one to not be proud of and the second half was one to be incredibly proud of,” Leach said. “I think key leaders, like Graham Harrell, were instrumental to playing the way we did in the second half.”
The Bears led 21-14 at halftime, and scored on their opening possession of the second half with Jacoby Jones capping a 78-yard drive on a 1-yard touchdown run to make it 28-14.
Texas Tech took control from there—without All-American Michael Crabtree, who left with a right foot injury midway through the second quarter and did not return.
The Red Raiders got a 1-yard TD run by Shannon Woods, a 3-yard touchdown run by Baron Batch and a Harrell’s 4-yard touchdown pass to Detron Lewis to go up 35-28.
Lewis’ touchdown came after Tech linebacker Brian Duncan intercepted a pass by Robert Griffin on Baylor’s 40.
“You can’t continually stop them,” first-year Baylor coach Art Briles said. “Name me someone that has in the last 55 ball games, maybe one or two games.”
Harrell was 41-of-50 for two touchdowns and 309 yards. He was intercepted once and fumbled once.
“We came out flat and I think they came out excited, and when that happens, you’ll get beat,” he said. “Luckily we were able to come into the locker room, get excited at halftime, go back out there and play really well in the second half.”
Griffin completed 12 of 15 for 91 yards and one touchdown. He ran for 105 yards and scored two rushing touchdowns.
Baylor (4-8, 2-6) started strong and took the lead into halftime after a fumble by Harrell deep in his own territory. Bears defensive end Leon Freeman stripped the ball as the senior quarterback pulled his arm back to pass.
Vincent Rhodes recovered it at the Tech 16 but the Bears nearly lost their scoring opportunity chance five plays later when officials ruled Griffin fumbled into the end zone as he tried to reach the ball over the goal line for a score.
Several players scrambled for the ball which eventually went out of bounds, apparently for a touchback. A review showed Griffin’s knee was down before he lost the ball and the Bears retained possession.
On the next play, Griffin lobbed a pass over defenders into the arms of Earnest Smith to go up 21-14 at the break.
Baylor now has lost 32 consecutive games against AP Top 10 teams since a 20-13 win at Southern California on Sept. 21, 1985.
Since the Big 12 began in 1996, Baylor is 0-23 against Top 10 teams with those losses coming by an average margin of 37 points.
The streaks continue, but Baylor showed promise this season, thanks in large part to the freshman Griffin.
Crabtree was hurt midway through the second quarter, when he jumped and pulled in a 6-yard pass between two Baylor defenders at the Bears 1.
He twisted his right ankle as he landed and hobbled to the bench. A few minutes later was taken to the locker room on a motorized cart.
He came out after halftime with a boot on his right foot and limped along the sideline, talking with teammates.
Crabtree has 93 catches for 1,135 yards and 18 touchdowns this season.
Baron Batch scored a touchdown on the play after Crabtree got hurt to put the Red Raiders up 14-13.