Scott Haynes, College Editor
Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) -
Yes, it is true that strength of schedule no longer is a factor in the big picture for the BCS, but maybe it still should be. Texas Tech is the model for such a claim, as this year's non-conference slate in Lubbock is beyond laughable.
Mike Leach's Red Raiders should not be looked at in awe for what they have accomplished in the early part of the 2005 season. Examining the competition thus far paints an entirely different picture.
The Red Raiders opened the season with a 56-3 pasting of Florida International. While not exactly Sunshine State powerhouses Florida, Florida State or Miami, at least the Golden Panthers are a Division I-A program. The same cannot be said of the remainder of Tech's non-league schedule. Following the 53-point rout of Florida International, Texas Tech faced the "juggernaut" known as Sam Houston State. The Division I-AA Bearkats were simply overwhelmed by the Red Raiders, who put 80 points on the scoreboard, the highest point total in 52 years for the school. The most amazing thing about it is that Leach called the dogs off after three quarters. With two wins in the books, there is no doubt that Tech will complete its non-league schedule a perfect 3-0. No, the team will not face its first quality opponent this week, but rather play host to Indiana State. The Sycamores are winless on the year and have lost to Eastern Illinois, St. Francis (Ind) and Murray State. Some Red Raiders have claimed to be able to put 100 points on the board this week and that in and of itself is deplorable.
Look, the Red Raiders may very well be a top-25 team this season, behind an offense that clearly can put points on the scoreboard. Cody Hodges has proven to be every bit as explosive under center, as his predecessors Kliff Kingsbury, B.J. Symons and Sonny Cumbie. Perhaps he will prove to be even better, as the talent around him seems to be as well. Wideouts Robert Johnson and Jarrett Hicks are different from receivers in the past for Tech, as both have great size and present problems for secondaries downfield. While the ground game is not on par with the passing attack, tailback Taurean Henderson is an able back that can move the chains.
Mike Leach's Red Raiders should not be looked at in awe for what they have accomplished in the early part of the 2005 season.
There is no denying Texas Tech's offensive prowess, but maybe judgement should be postponed until Tech actually plays a team of merit, one that actually has playmakers on both sides of the football.
I know that schedules are usually made years in advance, but these teams were hand-picked, not because of the challenge they would pose, but rather for the opposite. Tech could have played the likes of Fresno State and Louisville this year, but that didn't happen. A non-league slate with the Bulldogs and Cardinals would have certainly earned Leach and company well deserved kudos. One patsy on the schedule is acceptable, two is borderline, but three is ridiculous.
Steve Spurrier used to get lambasted for running the score up on inferior opponents while in Gainesville, so why should Leach be exempt? Of course the big difference is that Spurrier won a plethora of big games against national powers, as well as a national championship. The jury is still out on Leach.
There will be ample time to evaluate the Red Raiders, with Big 12 road trips to Nebraska, Texas and Oklahoma State, not to mention home games against Texas A&M and Oklahoma.
Perhaps, though, the Red Raider faithful should hold off booking a road trip to Pasadena just yet.