Will Texas Tech continue moving in the right direction on Saturday?

Saturday night at Jones Stadium. Five words every Texas Tech football fan loves to hear. That’s what awaits us this week as TCU comes calling. And this game is a massive opportunity for head coach Matt Wells in his continued efforts in rebuilding the program.

First of all, Wells has yet another chance to win consecutive Big 12 games for the first time in his tenure on the South Plains.  Thus far, he’s gone 0-4 when having an opportunity to string together two conference games in a row.

What’s more, you have to go back to October of 2018 to find the last time that Tech managed to accomplish this modest feat.  That year, Kliff Kingsbury’s final season in charge, Tech took down TCU 17-14 in Fort Worth before drilling Kansas 48-16 in Lubbock.

Prior to that, you would have to go back to 2015 to find the second-most recent occurrence of a Big 12 winning streak by the Red Raiders. That season, Kingsbury’s team defeated Kansas State in Lubbock and Texas in Austin to end the regular season and reach seven wins, something that feels almost monumental these days given the recent doldrums that this program has found itself in.

Still, stringing Big 12 wins together is something that has to happen before we can start to think about bringing relevant football back to Raiderland.  And this weekend could present as good of an opportunity as there will be this year for that.  That’s because, as members of the Big 12, TCU is just 3-6 the week after playing Texas, which is who the Frogs faced last weekend.

And should we dare to dream about a two-game winning streak from the Red Raiders, we could actually be in line for three wins in a row given that next weekend has the Red Raiders facing lowly Kansas.  That would put Tech at the all-important six-win mark, which would qualify the Red Raiders for a bowl appearance which has to be the minimum for Wells to accomplish this fall in order to save his job.

But perhaps just as important for Wells this week is the opportunity he has to start to re-establish the Jones Stadium mystique that was once so feared by teams in this conference.  This is a night game, a blackout, homecoming, and the team will be wearing the popular throwback uniforms with the old-school Double T.  In other words, there will be quite the atmosphere at The Jones when the Horned Frogs arrive.

Thus, if Wells’ team can put forth a quality effort and actually win an important home game, it will do wonders for both the head coach and his program, each of which still needs to win back a large part of the constituency.  But one of the reasons that the fans in Lubbock have lost some of their fervor for Texas Tech football over the years is that the Red Raiders have not won big home games against teams that the fan base cares about beating.

Sure, last year, Wells was quick to tout the fact that his team went 4-2 at home.  But one of those wins came against FCS opponent Houston Baptist (and that game felt like a loss given how close it was) and two others came against West Virginia (a program that is not a traditional rival) and Baylor (which won only two games in 2020).

In all, Wells has yet to secure a quality home win over a team that would generate serious buzz with the fans, a team that we take pure delight in beating.  While TCU isn’t elite in 2021, they do ride a three-game win streak at Jones Stadium into Saturday night.  Thus, putting an end to that would thrill the fans immensely and curry some good favor for the man in charge.

The simple reality is that this game is a huge opportunity for Wells and the Red Raiders.  If this program is ever going to get back to where it was in the glory days of the Mike Leach era, winning critical games in Lubbock has to become the rule, not the exception.

Therefore, Saturday night is one of the bigger opportunities Wells will have had as head coach at Tech.  Whether he seizes it will tell us quite a bit about where his program is headed.

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