College football futures odds don't like Texas Tech's chances of playing in a bowl game, but the Red Raiders could surprise a few teams along the way and upset those projections.
Year 2 of the Kliff Kingsbury Era didn't go nearly as well as Texas Tech fans had hoped, the Red Raiders seeing an 8-win campaign in 2013 chopped in half, only two of the wins coming on the Big 12 slate.
Year 3 isn't projected to be much better according to the college football futures odds, Texas Tech holding steady as an 18/1 pick in the conference race -- 7th among the 10 crews -- and a whopping 250/1 long shot on the College Football Playoff Championship list.
At least one early-season projection is currently throwing caution to the wind when it comes to the 6-win total being bandied about at sportsbooks such as Bovada, where the 'under' was priced at -150. The Associated Press believes the Red Raiders have what it takes to get to the 6-win qualifier to become bowl eligible, which means a half-dozen dubyas against teams other than the season opener vs. Sam Houston State. The AP released its bowl projections a little more than a month ago, picking Texas Tech to match up against Ole Miss in the Liberty Bowl at that time.
Though I tend to disagree with Tech's chances of getting the necessary six wins, there might have been signs towards the end of last year pointing to Kingsbury's crew being a bit overlooked entering this year's college football betting season.
Tortilla Tech Facing Tough Slate
The Red Raiders weren't just a disappointment to their fans last year, but also college football bettors following them. Texas Tech dropped the first three games against the spread, including narrow victories over Central Arkansas and UTEP they were favored by 21+ points to beat, eventually standing 1-4 against the spread when the second Saturday of September arrived. The Raiders finished 5-2 at the window after that, including covers in the final three games, the season ending by nearly upsetting Baylor outright as nearly 4-TD 'dogs.
NCAA football bettors also couldn't find a rhythm with scoreboard wagers either, Tech splitting that column 6-6 O/U just like they ended up vs. the spreads. There isn't a game involving the Red Raiders that made it on the Golden Nugget's early list of early spreads, but that only adds to the allure of this team possibly becoming a good wager one way or the other.
Texas Tech has a very similar schedule as last year, and that could lead to fading early before following late. After opening against the Bearkats and Miners, there's a game at Arkansas, home meeting with TCU and matchup against Baylor in Arlington. The Bears will be out to show up Tech after last season's finale. The game in Fayetteville is key to the entire season.
Tech Brings Gibbs To Lubbock To Overhaul Defense
They don't have to necessarily beat the Razorbacks, picked to dwell near the bottom of the SEC West along with Texas A&M, but the Red Raiders do need to at least play well at Arkansas to gain confidence for the subsequent matches against TCU and Baylor. Anything less than a 3-2 start after those games will keep Texas Tech from going bowling.
The schedule doesn't ease up at that point, with road trips to Oklahoma, West Virginia and the season finale in Austin against Texas. Kingsbury does have a pretty good offense to put on the field, one that is capable of improving on the 30.5 PPG last year with either Davis Webb or Patrick Mahomes directing the attack at quarterback. The Raiders will have to improve the running game where senior DeAndre Washington returns following an 1,100 yard season.
Defense was the primary culprit of last year's 4-win total, Tech ranking 3rd-to-last in the country allowing more than 41 points per game and near the bottom vs. the pass. Towards that end, the Red Raiders brought in David Gibbs to manage the stop unit after he spent the past two seasons as defensive coordinator in Houston. Gibbs will have his work cut out for him, but also will have prized defensive line recruit Breiden Fehoko to eventually help.
There are signs Texas Tech can get back into the bowl picture this year, but I'm not buying into it just yet. I'm playing 'under' 6 wins with my college football picks, though I do think the Red Raiders can cash 7-8 against the spread.