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Mental Mistakes Too Much for Texas Tech to Overcome in Ames

Texas Tech was looking to win its third-straight Big 12 road game, something the program had not done since The Pirate, Mike Leach, was steering the ship in Lubbock. Alas, the Red Raiders were unable to get the job done, losing 40-31 in Ames against Iowa State. Tech certainly had its chances and opportunities, and head coach Kliff Kingsbury will look back on this game and wonder, “What could have been?”

Instead, the head coach shouldered much of the blame, saying after the loss, “We didn’t play well offensively. I don’t have an answer for it, other than I didn’t do a good job coaching, getting us into the right plays.”

Tech only scored 17 points on offense and finished with just 30 rushing yards on 24 attempts. Credit the Iowa State defense, but the Red Raiders also had plenty of mistakes.

The Red Raiders had 10 penalties for 105 yards, with several of the penalties extending Iowa State drives, resulting in points for the Cyclones. You can’t do that on the road. Arguably the most costly penalty came with the game tied at 31 in the final minutes, when true freshman quarterback Alan Bowman was called for intentional grounding from the end zone, which resulted in a safety. Five plays later, Iowa State hit it big, with their own true freshman quarterback Brock Purdy hitting Hakeem Butler in stride for a 48-yard touchdown strike. Game, Set, Match.

The fact that an intentional grounding penalty that resulted in a safety that was followed up with a touchdown can only “arguably” be the biggest penalty of the day tells you how many bone-headed mistakes there were on Saturday afternoon for the Red Raiders. Jordyn Brooks, one of the team’s best defensive players, was ejected for a targeting call on Brock Purdy in the first half. I don’t like the rule, as Brooks hit Purdy in the shoulder area, but as the rule is written, the ejection was the right call. While Tech was able to keep its defense in tact for the following two quarters, the unit clearly wore down, and who knows how things might have been different with Brooks playing the game.

Then, there was Alan Bowman finally looking like the true freshman that he is. The three interceptions were all massive game changers. The first one was a 41-yard pick six from Marcell Spears to break a tie and put Iowa State up 24-17. The second was also courtesy of Spears, which came when the game was tied at 31 early in the fourth quarter. Last, but not least, was the interception Bowman threw with under two minutes left in the game, which sealed the win for the Cyclones. Bowman finished 32/56 for 323 yards and one touchdown to three interceptions.

Special teams played really well for the Red Raiders. The unit started the game with a blocked punt recovered for a touchdown and punter Dominic Panazzolo flipped the field several times, finishing with 7 punts for an average of 43.1 yards per punt, and pinning Iowa State deep in their own territory a couple of times.

But in the end, the Red Raiders are not talented enough to overcome a 3-1 turnover margin, 10 penalties for over 100 yards and only 30 rushing yards in a difficult road environment. Now, with two top 10 teams coming to Lubbock in Oklahoma and Texas, the road gets even tougher for Texas Tech. If they don’t clean things up, things will be much uglier than they were Saturday in Ames.

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