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Texas Tech: cupcake defense

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Following Texas Tech’s impressive 49-14 victory over New Mexico, fans and local media have been absolutely giddy about the Red Raider defense. Going into their bye week before playing Iowa State, Texas Tech’s defense is ranked second in the nation. That has to be the best defense that the university has had in over a decade. On the other hand, maybe it isn’t.

Red Raider fans have fallen for this trick before. During the 2011 season, the talking heads were talking about how good the Texas Tech defense was. That defense finished the year as one of the worst defensed in college football. The same thing happened in 2010 following the Texas game in Lubbock. Everyone was talking about how well the defense played against a nationally ranked Texas team. Only, it turned out that Texas was not that good that year and only finished going 5-7. Texas Tech’s defense was one of the worst defenses in the country that year too.

Once again, Red Raider fans are being fed the same story in 2012. It might be true this time or it might not be true at all. It feels like a certain segment of the media is in a hurry to sell the public the idea that this is the greatest Texas Tech defense in recent memory. What is the rush? Why can’t everyone take a deep breath and wait until Texas Tech actually plays someone that has players that the Tech coaching staff would have given the time of day to, out on the recruiting trail?

The point is not that Texas Tech is not good on defense. The Red Raiders could turn out to be a very good defense compared to past years. The point is that no one will really know that until that defense goes up against a team from a legitimate BCS conference. What is wrong with waiting until Texas Tech plays Iowa State to make these pronouncements of defensive dominance? Deciding how good Tech’s defense is based on playing three over matched teams would be a little like waiting for them to play Oklahoma and West Virginia, and then using only those games to determine how good the Red Raider defense is.

Iowa State seems to be a much fairer test than only looking at the cupcake games or only looking at games against national powers. The cyclones are a middle of the road Big 12 team. They are the sort of team that good teams are expected to beat if they want to be nationally ranked. They are also the sort of team that has enough talent to give most teams a game. They have some players the Texas Tech would have given the time of day to, out on the recruiting trail. That is not to say that they have more talent than the Red Raiders, but they are a whole lot closer than New Mexico was.

Lubbock sports radio had a job to do. Their job is to convince everyone to forgive, forget, and either keep or resume giving money to Texas Tech. Most of the people in the local sports media either also work for Texas Tech or are reliant on the university’s good graces in order to do their job. That is just the reality of working in the Lubbock market.

The problem is that it feels like the local media is in a hurry to talk fans into supporting the university. It almost makes people wonder if they too, are afraid of what will happen once conference play starts. What happens if Texas Tech loses by a couple of touchdowns to Iowa State? It feels like Red Raider fans are being sold a used car and the salesman is in too big of a hurry to let them look under the hood. Maybe everything is okay under the hood. What if it isn’t? The Tech defense looks great so far. What if it isn’t?

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