Maybe it’s because Kansas State was so dominant last week against West Virginia.
Or perhaps most people around the state of Kansas just haven’t watched Texas Tech play.
Whatever it is, the Red Raiders — according to the K-State coaches and players — aren’t getting the respect they deserve coming into Saturday’s homecoming game in Manhattan.
Ranked No. 15 this week, Texas Tech has just one loss and is currently the toughest game remaining on K-State’s schedule. With a revamped defense and a typically-strong passing game on offense, the Red Raiders are most likely hampered by preseason expectations that simply haven’t panned out.
When one reporter suggested this game might be a trap game for the Wildcats, head coach Bill Snyder wasn’t having it.
“I don’t know who (said it), but it’s not a trap game,” Snyder said. “Texas Tech is good. It doesn’t make any difference who you play, does it? You guys look around at the conference and talk about trap games and underdogs and all that kind of jazz, and everybody’s good. They’re all good. There aren’t any bad football teams in this conference.”
Snyder has a point. Texas Tech is a lot like K-State last season, winning games each week without generating much national buzz or being taken seriously as a legitimate Big 12 contender. The 73-year-old coach doesn’t believe in upsets and thinks every team in this conference can be competitive any given Saturday, especially ones ranked in the top 15.
“Anybody can beat anybody,” Snyder continued. “I don’t know what you need as far as proof, but it happens every week of every season. Not just this season, but you go back — everybody is a quality program and quality teams.
“There are no upsets. If somebody wins, they deserved to win. There aren’t any trap games because — I don’t know how anybody could say that.
“It’s two good football games competing against each other, and whoever prepares well and plays well, in all likelihood, has the best chance to win.”
And in case you think Snyder is just toeing the company line, the players said the same things.
“In the Big 12, every team can play,” receiver Chris Harper said. “Texas has the athletes, they’re just trying to find their mojo. Oklahoma State is the same deal. Basically every other team we play. Baylor hung with West Virginia and has a great offense. TCU went out there and without three turnovers would have beat Texas Tech.”
Despite all the national hype from last week’s showdown with West Virginia, the simple fact is the Red Raiders whomped the Mountaineers the same way K-State did just two weeks ago.
“People had been talking about that game for a couple weeks,” Harper said of the West Virginia game. “Tech doesn’t get the coverage that West Virginia was getting with them being on the East coast. But they proved they’re a better team than West Virginia. For the players, it’s big. We’re going to be ready for them.”
Harper said there’s no way this game could be considered a trap game.
“I don’t think it’s a trap game,” he said. “They have the No. 1 defense in the Big 12. So that’s enough for me.”
Part of the insinuation that K-State might overlook an opponent is the fact that K-State isn’t used to playing each game as a favorite. The underdog role fits them best, but at No. 4 in the nation, doesn’t fly these days.
“We’ve been the underdog, and we keep looking at it that way,” safety Jarard Milo said. “(The media) can love us today, and we could go out and lose Saturday, and we wouldn’t have any love. That’s something we don’t pay attention to. Coach Snyder stresses that everyday. You can’t pay attention to what the media says.”
Texas Tech is still looking for a signature win to pair with the West Virginia victory that is losing credibility with each passing week. With its one loss coming in blowout fashion to Oklahoma, beating K-State on the road would earn them some headlines.
Harper has seen plenty of film on Tech this week, and knows what the Wildcats are in for.
“Anytime two great teams are playing, it’s a chess match,” he said. “The level of athletes isn’t going to be too different — it’s more about schemes and playing smart. The team that doesn’t kill themselves with turnovers and penalties is going to come out on top.
“We understand how good this team is. A lot of people may not understand it because they haven’t watched them, but those dudes can play.”