Kliff Kingsbury coaches against the Sooners on Saturday. If he stays four years at Texas Tech, Kingsbury will match how many times he quarterbacked against OU.
Kingsbury debuted as the Tech quarterback on Nov. 20, 1999, when the Red Raiders upset OU 38-28. And Kingsbury calls it the favorite game he ever quarterbacked.
“Yeah, that was my favorite start ever because it was Coach (Spike) Dykes’ last game, and we knew that we were 5‑5,” Kingsbury said Monday. “He had been bowl eligible for 10, 11 straight years, and we wanted to send him out on top. That team rallied around me and around him, and found a way to get a win against a very good OU team.”
Within a few weeks, Mike Leach became the Tech head coach and Kingsbury’s future changed dramatically, The Leach Air Raid offense became a college football phenomenon, and Kingsbury became the first in a long line of Tech quarterback stars. And maybe the best, at least until Graham Harrell came along.
In 2000, Tech came to Norman on Nov. 18. The Sooners were unbeaten; Tech was 7-4. The Red Raiders played tough, losing 27-13.
In 2001, Tech hosted the Sooners on Nov. 17. OU was once-beaten, Tech was 6-3. OU won 30-13.
In 2002, Tech played at OU on Nov. 23. OU was once-beaten. Tech was 8-4. The Sooners routed the Red Raiders 60-15.
Now Kingsbury comes to Norman with a team that is 7-0 and ranked ninth nationally. He was asked how this Tech team is different and better than that 2002 team.
“I think that ’02 team would have killed them actually,” Kingsbury joked. “No, yeah, I don’t know. It’s hard to compare. It was a rough trip to Norman in ’02, but the rest of that year was pretty fun. We had some great players. I don’t like comparing teams. I just know we have a huge game coming up. It’s the next game which we approached every game as a huge game on our schedule, and I think our kids will do a good job handling that moment.”
That 2002 verdict was the middle game in a five-game OU winning streak in the series. But starting with Tech’s controversial victory in 2005, the schools have won every other year. Tech in 2005, 20007, 2009, 2011. OU in 2006, 2008, 2010, 2012.
It’s been Tech’s bad luck that when the Red Raiders were in title contention, they played in Norman. And lost. Kingsbury was asked if there was something about playing at Owen Field with a Big 12 championship on the line that causes OU to dominate Tech?
“I don’t know,” Kingsbury said. “We’re in Week 8, so there is no championship on the line. So we’ll go out there and give it our best shot. It’s a huge challenge anytime you go to that stadium. It’s one of the storied stadiums in college football. Their fans are crazy, hostile, intense. It’s a great college football atmosphere.”