The 15th-ranked Red Raiders expect to face the revenge-minded Cornhuskers when the unbeaten Big 12 Conference rivals meet on Saturday.
Texas Tech (4-0, 1-0) won for the first time in eight tries against Nebraska, 70-10 last season in Lubbock. It was the worst loss and most points allowed in the 115-year history of Cornhuskers’ football.
The embarrassing defeat featured seven turnovers by Nebraska (4-0, 1-0), which was in its first season of learning coach Bill Callahan’s West Coast offense. While the Cornhuskers threw five interceptions, Red Raiders quarterback Sonny Cumbie shredded their defense for 436 yards and completed 14 straight passes in one stretch.
“That game has been in the back of our minds since the last time we went down there and played them,” Nebraska strong safety Daniel Bullocks said.
Texas Tech coach Mike Leach is doing his part to downplay last year’s blowout.
“I think our defense played a big part in last year’s 70 points,” Leach said. “We got all of those turnovers close, a lot of times inside their 20 and sometimes inside their 10. We moved the ball well last year and we just need to do it this year.”
The Red Raiders have dropped all three visits to Memorial Stadium, allowing an average of 40 points.
“It is a loud place and everyone says how friendly their fans are, but when it comes down to it they are rooting for the other team like all fans,” Leach said. “The thing that I am impressed with is how the stadium comes together and how it has been remodeled through time and history. It has a quality of history which is impressive.”
Callahan’s second season has gone more smoothly than a rough 5-6 campaign a year ago. Nebraska is on the verge of completing an unbeaten five-game home stretch after a 27-20 double-overtime win over then-No. 23 Iowa State last Saturday.
First-year starter Zac Taylor led the way by completing 36-of-55 passes for a school-record 431 yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions to earn Big 12 offensive player of the week honors. Nebraska entered the game ranked 108th in passing offense before Taylor was able to find 10 different receivers to pick apart Iowa State’s man-to-man coverage.
“He’s a smart quarterback,” Callahan said. “It’s amazing that you can make that many plays and do what we did with the attempts that we had in that game and not turn the ball over. … That says a lot about his decision-making ability.”
Taylor’s performance came two weeks after he managed only 93 yards passing in a 7-6 win over Pittsburgh.
“They have good coaches there and they will be coming off of a big game where they threw for over 400 yards,” Leach said. “I think it is a good offense that is improving.”
The high-scoring Red Raiders, who lead the nation in scoring at 52.7 points per game, turned in their lowest scoring game of the season in a 30-17 victory over Kansas last week in their Big 12 opener. Texas Tech finished with only 380 yards of total offense after averaging nearly 654 yards in three nonconference wins.
Cody Hodges threw for 333 yards and one touchdown, but was picked off once, sacked four times and forced into four fumbles.
“I’m disappointed because our offense only scored two touchdowns, but I would rather have an ugly win than a pretty loss,” Hodges said. “We didn’t play smart at times.”
Nebraska is hoping to create just as many problems for Hodges to erase last season’s memory.
“Last year’s game was something in the past, and we are focused and looking to the future,” Callahan said.