Texas Longhorns (#18) vs Texas Tech Red Raiders, 9/24/2022, 2:30pm CST

Final Score: Red Raiders 37 – 34; Attendance: 60,975

Weather: Sunny, 89; Ticket: $175; Parking: $15

“Wreck ‘Em”


The Logistics

Texas Tech University is in Lubbock about two hours south of Abilene. Unless you are a victim of group think, it unlikely you are ever going to either. I was originally going to fly to Abilene and make the short drive down when my wife suggested otherwise. This was going to be a couple’s game and my wife thought it would be fine to drive the eight hours from Houston, undoubtedly with visions of stopping at the Chip and Joanna Gaines mecca Magnolia in Waco. However, when the other couple had to cancel, my wife immediately suggested I find someone else to go with. In the end, I managed to convince my friend Andy that this would be a great time and the drive to Lubbock is gorgeous. In the end, the trip was not as bad as I thought. Lubbock itself is nice little town. I wouldn’t say it feels like a college town, but it was welcoming. Hotel rooms, unsurprisingly require early planning. We had booked an Airbnb instead, about 15 minutes from the campus. Lubbock is easy to get around and we were able to walk to a local watering hole.

The Site:

The stadium is located right on campus. I had done some preliminary research on tailgates and the ones immediately around the stadium are the best. There were, at first, a few after-market passes available for the prime lots, but by the time I got around to buying them, they were gone. This game was a sell-out. I bought the West Arena pass online for $15 (nice!) but had to physically pick it up at the ticket office (not so nice!). The courteous young man convinced me there would be tailgaters in that lot. This was true in the same sense that it is true to say there is plenty of scenery when driving to Lubbock. However, neither the tailgating nor the scenery is particularly good. Nonetheless, the lot did give us an opportunity set up our gear and talk to a few fellow tailgaters. To be honest, if you had a big group coming and wanted to tailgate this lot would do the trick. You won’t get the excitement and energy of the lots immediately adjacent to the stadium, but the lots are cheap, spacious and have port-a-potties. There are shuttles from the lot to the stadium and they are $5 for a round trip. However, we just walked back after the game. It is an easy mile to do that.

Our seats were twenty yard-line midway up and pretty pricey at $175. I could have gotten some cheaper seats earlier in week direct from the school for about $100, However, it took a while to nail down how many seats I needed and then the game sold out. UT might not consider Texas Tech their rival, but the Red Raiders definitely get up for the Longhorns. It is likely that tickets for other games are cheaper and more plentiful. Our seats were bleacher seats but were located across the from the lower level entrance which meant there were two seats in our row, occupied by us, and with a generous amount of depth until the next set of bleachers. In other words, very comfortable seats with a good view of the field and student section. Jones AT&T Stadium has only one large video board in the north end zone and I made sure we were able to see it when I bought the seats. There is a scoreboard on the south side as well, but no video. They need to upgrade that as the standard in college football is rapidly approaching two screens. The stadium is a little dated but not to the detriment of the game experience. The concessions are another story. It took twenty minutes and nearly the whole second quarter to get my souvenir cup of Coke. I don’t recall the concessions being anything more then the standard, run of the mill offerings you find at most stadiums. The service, though, was subpar for sure. They did sell beer. I couldn’t see any water bottle stations but thought I heard one student tell the usher they were going fill up their water bottles.

It was hot and there were several Tech fans sporting shirts that said it was a “Dry Heat”, but we saw at least one fan get consumed by the temperatures. It is Texas, so be prepared to hydrate and put on the sunscreen which we did, liberally. I hoped some the students we saw did because many happily embraced the trend of wearing as little clothing as possible. Short skirts and cowboy boots were de rigueur for the women. The guys, however, wore mostly t-shirts and they tended to keep them on. Given that Tech colors are red and black, I felt particularly bad for those sporting black on this day. I have been to hotter games, but this was up there. One young lady was wearing a red patent leather jumpsuit, that was probably synthetic. She had to be sweltering.  There were some cowboy hats, but that was more often from UT fans visiting the game. The band was good, although the salute to Led Zepplin seemed misaligned to the tastes of the student body. Perhaps, they were courting the donations of older alumni.

Texas Tech has several traditions. They have the masked Red Raider ride his black horse onto the field after every score. It is not totally unique, but not bad either. “WRECK ‘EM” is a popular cheer often blared over the PA system. The animosity level toward UT was ever-present and contributed to the popular cheer of “F U – U T” with an accompanying downward “Hook ‘em Horns sign” It was a very frequent cheer by the student body. It did not get old, given this was a back and forth game. The most famous tradition of Texas Tech, however is the tortilla toss. It goes like this. Fans, mostly students, smuggle in stacks of low quality tortillas in the game. After the first kickoff, the sky becomes a sea of tortillas as they are hurled toward the field. To gain lift and distance, the savvy tortilla tosser knows to put a hole in the middle of the tortilla. This continues throughout the game after every kickoff, slowly and steadily declining in volume. The first kickoff, though, is a sight to behold.

The Game:

Both teams came into this game at 2 -1, but the Horns were getting hot, ranked #18 in the country and were 6.5 point favorites. I took UT on an emotional hedge , figuring that if Tech won the game the crowd might rush the field. This was a helluva game with fireworks right from the start. It took UT less than two minutes to score the opening touchdown. The Red Raiders answered with a long drive (17 plays) to tie it up. The Longhorns answered with a field goal which Tech countered with a touchdown. It put the Red Raiders up 14 -10 and they intercepted the Longhorns on the next possession. Tech was unable to capitalize and then the wheels kind of fell off. Texas scored two more touchdowns, in quick succession to go up 24-10 at the half. I could see this game getting away from Tech if they didn’t respond early in the 3rd quarter.

The Red Raiders did get the opening kickoff of the second half, but couldn’t convert. More importantly though, they held UT to basically a three and out. The Red Raiders managed to get a field goal and then swap touchdowns with the Horns. It left the Red Raiders only down by seven going into 4th quarter. Tech managed to tie it up with seven minutes left and then things got really crazy. UT was forced to punt after one first down. The Red Raiders took over on their seventeen yard-line. They drove to the Texas 27 and kicked a field goal with about twenty-five seconds to go. The Red Raider student section went to the edge of the stadium, ready to rush the field. The Longhorns had other ideas. They went 46 yards in three plays and kicked the tying field goal as time expired. I would not say the air went out of the stadium but it definitely got quiet. It did not stay that way for long. UT fumbled on the first play of overtime and the Texas Tech students reassembled at the field’s edge. The Red Raiders easily drove to the UT three and then kicked the winning field goal. Pandemonium ensued as the students rushed the field. Being of a more advanced age, I leisurely strolled onto the field after they opened up the gates. It was still a lot of fun.

Personal Notes:

When I go to games, I like to walk around the tailgate areas and talked to fans. I try to get a lay of the land and an understanding of traditions et cetera at the school. Without fail, fans are happy to talk about their school, the experience and their team. Usually free food and beer follow, but that’s not my goal by any means. I usually have my provisions at my own tailgate, even if it is a small one. Texas Tech was the second time in over a hundred games where I met a guy who was jerk. The interaction was short and I immediately moved on down the parking lot. Of course, the next set of guys I met were great. They liked my story and they started joking with me instantly. And, yes they offered beer and food.

The “crab’ I met at Texas Tech was clearly an anomaly. Everyone else we met were great, from in the stands, to the tailgate, and finishing at the bar after the game. I like the traditions at Tech, especially the tortilla bit. The tailgating was good and the stadium has a nice design. While the game was one of the best I have seen, I cannot classify a game at Texas Tech as must see. The biggest challenge is getting to Lubbock. Once there, the experience is a good one. Certainly, if your team is playing the Red Raiders, I would recommend making the trip – just don’t forget the tortillas.

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