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Texas Tech hosts Murray State in opener

Sportsnaut
Sep 18, 2021; Lubbock, Texas, USA; Texas Tech Red Raiders quarter back Tyler Shough (12) hands off to running back Xavier White (14) against the Florida International Panthers during the first half at Jones AT&T Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Michael C. Johnson-USA TODAY Sports
Credit: Michael C. Johnson-USA TODAY Sports

With Tyler Shough back at quarterback, the Texas Tech Red Raiders are set to open their season Saturday, entertaining the Murray State Racers in Lubbock, Texas.

Expectations are tempered for the Red Raiders in coach Joey McGuire’s first season as a collegiate head coach after five years as an assistant at Baylor, which followed a long stint as a high school coach in Texas (winning three state division titles at Cedar Hills).

Voters in the Big 12 preseason media poll picked Texas Tech to finish ninth in the 10-team conference, ahead of only Kansas.

Against the Racers of FCS? The Red Raiders are a five-touchdown favorite.

Texas Tech finished 7-6 last season, with their last three losses coming at the hands of Top 10 teams. After ending the regular season with a 3-point loss to Big 12 champion Baylor, the Raiders routed Mississippi State in the Liberty Bowl, 34-7.

Shough, who played 11 games for Oregon in 2019-20, won the Texas Tech starting job in 2021, but went down with a broken collarbone in the fourth game. He finished with 872 yards and six touchdowns on 64-of-92 passing, with three interceptions.

Shough was challenged in camp by a sophomore and a redshirt freshman, but ultimately was named the starter on Aug. 21. McGuire said the others would see some action, but the debate is over about the main man.

“I told Tyler, I said, ‘Look, you’re our starting quarterback, don’t look over your shoulder. Just realize, we’re going to have packages for these guys to come in and help us win games,'” McGuire told Lubbock television station KCBD.

Shough shrugged off the competition.

“There’s always somebody trying to replace you. … Really, I mean, every single practice, I felt like I got better, and I feel like I earned the job. I feel like I put our offense into position to be the most successful.”

Murray State is beginning its 75th and final season in the Ohio Valley Conference, set to join the Missouri Valley Conference in 2023.

The Racers were 6-5 overall last season (3-3 in the OVC) and are 11-7 and 8-5 in coach Dean Hood’s first two seasons.

Redshirt sophomore quarterback DJ Williams returns for Murray State after he threw for 1,020 yards and three touchdowns while rushing rushed for 532 yards and six scores.

Murray State ended last season on a three-game winning streak and Hood said he likes his team’s progress.

“Confidence is built, I think, in preparation, and our guys are starting to understand that,” he said. “It’s also something that is fragile. You can be the most confident team in the world and get punched in the mouth in game one and have to backtrack, but overall, I think our guys are in a good spot.”

–Field Level Media