Preseason goals have been adjusted for TCU and Texas Tech heading into Thursday night’s Big 12 Conference showdown in Lubbock.
But that doesn’t mean there will be any less intensity when the rivals meet.
The visiting Horned Frogs (4-4, 2-3) have found life more treacherous this season compared with 2022, when a stretch of strong play blended with good fortune to vault the team into the national championship game.
For the Red Raiders (3-5, 2-3), a spate of injuries — especially at quarterback — and some close-call losses have punctured the chance to fulfill various preseason prognostications that pegged them as a conference sleeper.
Now the two proud programs will collide, each coming off a bye week and each eager to bounce back after tough-to-stomach losses.
On Oct. 21, TCU absorbed a 41-3 rout at Kansas State, and Texas Tech lost 27-14 at BYU in a game when the Red Raiders’ five turnovers derailed any chance of the team keeping pace with the Cougars.
Though he downplayed it, this will be the first trip back to Lubbock for TCU’s Sonny Dykes as a head coach at the school where his father, Spike Dykes, won 82 games from 1986-99.
“The thing you have to do is try to stay focused on and do your job,” said the younger Dykes, who was a prominent candidate when the Texas Tech job opened in 2021.
The man the school hired was Joey McGuire, who remains upbeat despite a disappointing campaign, due in large part to losing quarterbacks Tyler Shough and Behren Morton to injuries that thrust freshman Josh Hoover into the position in the past two games.
But Morton was back at practice during the open week and is expected to return against the Horned Frogs.
“It’s really going to help having a healthier, experienced quarterback,” McGuire said.
Texas Tech has relied this season on standout running back Tahj Brooks, who has rushed for 891 yards and six touchdowns.
The Horned Frogs will counter with Emani Bailey, who has 851 yards on the ground this season.