David Gibbs, the much maligned defensive coordinator for the Texas Tech Red Raiders, firmly believed his unit was improved. Last season they saw marginal improvement when the defense finished the season ranked 88th in S&P+, the first time they fielded a top 100 level defense. Last night, against the TCU Horned Frogs, the hard work and dedication of the staff paid off as the Red Raiders won a defensive slobberknocker 17-14.
The defensive win is good for the West Virginia Mountaineers in a few ways. First, the defensive win over the Frogs, who are often thought of one of the few Big 12 teams who “play defense”, shows that Red Raiders defense might actually be good this season. If the Red Raiders are good on defense, then West Virginia scoring 42 on this defense, in Lubbock, is a boost to the team’s overall profile. It also doesn’t hurt that the team held the current #6 offense to 8 points under their season average.
Second, the win puts the Red Raiders firmly in the upper second tier of the Big 12 standings. Now at 2-1, the Red Raiders are in the mix with Oklahoma and Baylor. The loss drops the Horned Frogs down into 1-2 in conference. According to S&P+, Texas Tech is projected to win every remaining game on its schedule, minus the its showdown against the Oklahoma Sooners. If that holds, TTU would finish the year with a 9-3 overall record and 7-2 conference record. That is a good win for the Mountaineers. Conversely, now the Horned Frogs are 1-2 in conference, 3-3 overall, and are projected to lose 3 more games (Oklahoma, WVU, Oklahoma State), dropping them to 6-6, 4-5 in conference.
When the playoff committee meets in a few weeks to begin discussing playoff teams, the Ohio State Buckeyes win over TCU was going to be used to prop up the Buckeyes, and likely still will, but that win is looking less and less noteworthy, but the Mountaineers win over Texas Tech, which first looked like a typical Big 12 game, now looks better as Tech asserts itself as one of the better teams this season.