Picked seventh in the Big 12 in a preseason media poll, Texas Tech was supplied some motivational material before fall camp even started.
With the season progressing and the Red Raiders still undefeated after a 37-27 victory at West Virginia, the assistance keeps coming from various analysts who are not yet convinced.
"That's good," said Kliff Kingsbury. "I hope they keep giving us locker room material."
The first-year coach will use any inspiration he can find, while building a team that continues to strike through the air much like Kingsbury did when he was playing in the Air Raid attack Mike Leach introduced at Tech.
Davis Webb, a freshman who took over as starter a week earlier for injured Baker Mayfield, threw for 462 yards and two touchdowns as Tech soared to 7-0 for the fourth time in its history. The win also pushed Tech into sole possession of first place in the Big 12 at 4-0.
This time the Red Raiders escaped trouble. They trailed 27-16 after West Virginia scored on five straight possessions. The Tech defense then stiffened, forcing four punts and also prompting the Mountaineers to turn the ball over on downs. Throughout that segment, Webb completed 16 of 23 passes for 208 yards as Tech extended its win streak to eight games dating to a win over Minnesota in last year's Meineke Car Care Bowl.
The underdog status will probably follow Tech into its Oct. 26 game. It plays at Oklahoma, a longtime nemesis while Leach was building the program into national prominence. Kingsbury was a senior in 2002 when the Red Raiders went to Norman for a big showdown and collapsed, 60-15. Another colossal matchup was waged with OU in 2008 and Tech tumbled, 65-21.
Still, this year is different. Not because Tech has a new coach, or new beliefs, but because the schedule simply is not all that far along yet. Critics certainly have not seen enough proof yet to declare the Red Raiders are for real, but with each win they continue to grow.
"We know nothing's going to be easy in the Big 12," said cornerback Bruce Jones, "but I love what we showed, that our team can face adversity."
By winning at West Virginia, Kingsbury prevailed in his first matchup against a former coach, Dana Holgorsen of the Mountaineers. Holgorsen was an assistant at Tech when Kingsbury quarterbacked the Red Raiders. Later, Holgorsen convinced Kingsbury to join a Houston staff headed by Kevin Sumlin, who is now at Texas A&M.
FIVE BIGGEST TAKEAWAYS FROM WEEK 8 IN THE BIG 12
1. Baylor is for real -- at least when it plays at home. The Bears attained their home scoring average by rolling for 71 points while routing Iowa State behind a balanced attack. The biggest strides, however, were on defense as Baylor allowed ISU its only score inside the final minute.
2. Texas Tech rallied from a fourth quarter deficit for the first time while remaining undefeated under first-year coach Kliff Kingsbury. Davis Webb became the first Tech quarterback to pass for 400 yards in back-to-back games as the Red Raiders claimed sole possession of first place.
3. Oklahoma overcame a sluggish start to climb to 15-0 under coach Bob Stoops in games following the Red River clash against Texas. QB Blake Bell looked shaky at times but also made some good throws while contributing to a rushing attack that hammered for 235 yards.
4. Oklahoma State overcame four turnovers with a strong return game. Clint Chelf, the original starting quarterback this season, entered in place of J.W. Walsh. WR/PR Josh Stewart contributed 265 all-purpose yards and was labeled "the best player on the field'' by coach Mike Gundy.
5. Kansas, for the second time in as many Big 12 home games, got off to a double-digit lead and then was overwhelmed. Its anemic offense passed for 16 yards against Oklahoma. The Big 12 defeat was the 24th in a row and the 35th in the last 36 league games under three coaches.