Red Raiders racing into another big test

Texas Tech running back Ta'Zhawn Henry rushed for a career-high 111 yards and 4 TDs in the Red Raiders' 63-49 victory over Houston on Saturday at Jones AT&T Stadium.Elise Bressler photo

Can Bowman, Henry help Texas Tech end skid against Oklahoma State?

Texas Tech didn’t ease into this season, playing Ole Miss and Houston in the first half of September.

The month won’t get any easier for the Red Raiders as they open Big 12 play at No. 15 Oklahoma State on Saturday night.

The trip to Stillwater is especially harrowing for Texas Tech (2-1) as the Red Raiders are suffering through a nine-game losing streak to Oklahoma State and haven’t left the Cowboys home stadium with a victory since 2001.

Oklahoma State’s current run versus the Red Raiders began in the last year of the Mike Leach era when the former Texas Tech coach seemed to already have one foot out the door. The Cowboys then ratcheted up their domination of the Red Raiders when Tommy Tuberville took over the Texas Tech program. Oklahoma State hammered Tuberville’s teams by an average score of 53-15.

Lately, Texas Tech has come close to ending its losing streak against the Cowboys. Oklahoma State escaped Lubbock with a 41-34 victory a year ago and Texas Tech fell by a single point in Stillwater in 2016.

“Last year we had our chances, so we feel like we’ve closed the gap some compared to when we first got here,” Texas Tech coach Kliff Kingsbury said. “They’ve had it rolling now for a while. You’ve got to take your hat off to Coach (Mike) Gundy for the job he’s done.”

Texas Tech will invade Stillwater with a hot new quarterback as freshman Alan Bowman earned Big 12 Newcomer of the Week for his work on Saturday. Bowman passed for 605 yards and 5 touchdowns in leading the Red Raiders to a 63-49 win over Houston.

Of course, it’s a bit of a mystery who’s going to be playing for Texas Tech these days. The Red Raiders could return to McLane Carter at quarterback when he’s ready to come back from a high ankle sprain he suffered versus Ole Miss. Texas Tech is also waiting for running back Da’Leon Ward to recover from a groin injury.

But it’s a safe bet that the Red Raiders are getting more comfortable with the idea of rolling with Bowman and freshman running back Ta’Zhawn Henry, who rushed for 111 yards and 4 TDs in the Houston victory.

Kingsbury said on Sunday that Bowman is getting more comfortable the more time he spends running the Air Raid offense. The freshman QB graduate from high school last December and enrolled at Texas Tech in January, which allowed him to get a jump start on his college career.

“(Bowman) wouldn’t have a chance to play at the level he’s played the last couple of weeks without having that semester to learn the offense, grow through some growing pains, get around his teammates, prove to the coaching staff what he can do,” Kingsbury said. “If you just come in in the summer, you don’t get those reps that he was able to get. So he took advantage of them and he works really hard at his craft.”

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