Tommy Tuberville's coaching friends are congratulating him this week. His Texas Tech Red Raiders are ranked No. 1.
In total defense.
That's right. The football program which seemingly hasn't guarded anyone in a dozen years, which fathered the 70-63 West Virginia-Baylor game, which gave up 66 points in two of its final three games a year ago, sits above Alabama and LSU and all the other sabertooths who still play a little defense on college gridirons.
It's like Pavarotti being known for his dancing. Carmelo being known for his defense. Cattlemen's being known for its quiche.
It's the Big 12's worst nightmare. Tech, which has terrorized the league since 2000 with the Mike Leach offense, suddenly playing the other side of the ball.
And just in time for the Sooners to hit Lubbock, desperately needing a victory to keep their season afloat.
But good news for OU. Tech's lofty ranking isn't legit, at least not yet, and even Tuberville admits it.
“It's great to talk about those stats,” Tuberville said. “I mean, they're good for people to compare and all that. But we know better than that. We all know better than that. Five weeks from now we'll know a lot more. Heck, we'll know a lot more after this week.”
Tech's rise up the rankings is dramatic.
Total defense: 102nd in 2011, first in 2012.
Rush defense: 117th in 2011, 12th in 2012.
Pass defense: 34th in 2011, first in 2012.
Scoring defense: 47th in 2011, fifth in 2012.
But the Red Raiders have played toothless offenses. Their victims have been Texas State, Iowa State, New Mexico and Northwestern Louisiana. The first three are not in the top 90 in NCAA passing, and the latter is a I-AA team.
So there's still some mystery. “I think there's a lot of unknown across the country,” Bob Stoops said.
Give the Red Raiders this, though. They obviously are much better defensively with new coordinator Art Kaufman, and even last season, Tech wasn't awful against the pass, even in the quarterback-crazy Big 12. Tech's pass defense ranking (34th) and scoring defense ranking (47th) were acceptable, considering the competition.