Game Preview: Houston Baptist – Texas Tech Red Raiders

Thompson, Bowman, Ezukama celebration


LUBBOCK, Texas – After months of waiting, Texas Tech will kick off its 96th season of football Saturday when the Red Raiders host Houston Baptist inside Jones AT&T Stadium. It will be Texas Tech’s lone non-conference game as part of the Big 12 Conference’s “9+1” scheduling model for this season. The game will be broadcast to a national audience from the new Big 12 Now on ESPN+ platform with Anish Shroff on the call alongside analyst Tom Luginbill with Ian Fitzsimmons reporting from the sidelines. Fans can access the game on any streaming device by using the ESPN app and signing up for a $5.99/mo. ESPN+ subscription.

The Texas Tech Sports Network will also broadcast the game over 46 affiliates throughout the state of Texas and New Mexico as Brian Jensen will have the call alongside analyst John Harris, sideline reporter Chris Level and engineer Steve Pitts. The radio broadcast can also be heard on XM channel 200, Sirius channel 98 or via the TuneIn app.

INSIDE THE HBU SERIES

  • Texas Tech and Houston Baptist will be meeting for the first time in history.
  • The Red Raiders are 18-3 all-time against current members of the Southland Conference with their last win coming in a 77-0 rout over Lamar in 2018. 
  • The Red Raiders have been dominant over FCS foes with a 23-1 record all-time.
  • Tech is averaging 52.6 points per game against the FCS. 

TEXAS TECH IN SEASON OPENERS

  • The Red Raiders have started 16 of the last 17 seasons with a victory.
  • Texas Tech is 65-27-3 all-time over its 95 season openers after opening 16 of the past 17 years with a victory. The lone loss during that stretch came two years ago when Ole Miss handed the Red Raiders a 47-27 loss in the AdvoCare Texas Kickoff Game in Houston. The Red Raiders rebounded to top Montana State, 45-10, a year ago.
  • Prior to the loss to Ole Miss, the Red Raiders boasted the third-longest winning streak nationally for season openers, trailing only Ohio State and Alabama among FBS programs. Texas Tech’s 15 game winning streak in season openers was its longest in program history.
  • Matt Wells is 3-4 over his career in season openers with wins over Southern Utah in 2015 and Weber State in 2016 while the head coach at Utah State and then Montana State a year ago in his Texas Tech debut. All four losses came to power-five programs, including two preseason top-15 teams in No. 9 Wisconsin (2017) and No. 11 Michigan State (2018). 
S. Thompson and E. Ezukanma celebrate after a touchdown during Texas Tech’s 45-10 win over Montana State in its 2019 season opener

TEXAS TECH-HBU CONNECTIONS

  • This weekend’s opener has affectionately been referred to as the “Schovanec-Kittley Bowl” by several Red Raiders since it was scheduled this summer due to the ties on the Houston Baptist staff and Texas Tech University. The Huskies have two Red Raider alumns in offensive coordinator Zach Kittley and offensive line coach Jared Kaster on its staff along with special teams coordinator and running backs coach Tyler Schovanec, another former Texas Tech staff member.
  • Kittley is the son of longtime Texas Tech Director of Track and Field Wes Kittley and was previously a graduate assistant for the Red Raiders from 2015-17 before being hired at Houston Baptist. Kittley, who was also an offensive intern for the Red Raiders in 2014 and a student assistant coach in 2013, graduated from Texas Tech in 2014.
  • Kaster, meanwhile, was a three-year starter at center for the Red Raiders from 2012-15, earning honorable mention All-Big 12 accolades as a senior. Kaster, who started the final 37 games of his career, was a quality control assistant for the Red Raiders from 2016-17 following his playing career.
  • Schovanec, another Lubbock native, was previously a special teams quality control and personnel assistant for the Red Raiders during the 2017 season. He is the son of Texas Tech President Lawrence Schovanec. 

NON-CON SUCCESS FAMILIAR FOR TECH

  • Texas Tech enters this weekend having won each of its last 11 non-conference games at home and 36 of its last 37 contests dating back to the 2002 season. The Red Raiders are an impressive 43-2 overall in non-conference home games since moving to a spread offense in 2000.
  • Texas Tech’s success against non-conference opponents from either the FCS level or a Group of Five conference is even more impressive as the Red Raiders have won each of their last 26 contests at home or on the road against non-power five members.
  • In fact, Texas Tech has not dropped a non-conference game against a Group of Five opponent since falling at No. 17 Houston, 29-28, early in the 2009 season. In addition, Tech has not lost to an unranked, Group of Five opponent since New Mexico surprised the Red Raiders, 27-24, in 2004.

PLENTY OF NEW FACES TO LEARN

  • Red Raider fans will have several new faces to learn as Matt Wells and his staff have signed six new graduate transfers in recent months, including two with national championship experience in junior running back Chadarius Townsend (Alabama) and senior defensive back Eric Monroe (LSU). 
  • The list of graduate transfers features former Arizona linebacker Colin Schooler, who is the FBS active leader in tackles for a loss entering this season. Schooler also ranks second among active FBS players with 312 career tackles over his first three years at Arizona where he was a three-time All-Pac 12 selection and a Freshman All-American in 2017. 

BOWMAN BACK TO LEAD OFFENSE

  • Alan Bowman will look to return to form Saturday as the sophomore quarterback will be making his first start since suffering a shoulder injury against Arizona last year. Bowman missed the following nine games en route to redshirting the 2019 season.
  • Bowman will be making his 11th career start on Saturday as the sophomore has thrown for 3,658 yards and 23 touchdowns over his still young career while also completing 68.2 percent of his passes. Bowman will have several reliable options around him as Texas Tech returns its leading rusher in SaRodorick Thompson as well as its leading receiver in Erik Ezukanma

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