DieHards is counting down each Big 12 team’s best moment from the 2017 college football season, whether fun, momentous or disastrous. We continue on with the Texas Tech Red Raiders.
Texas Tech walked into Austin in the final week of the season as a program in turmoil. The Red Raiders were on the verge of missing another bowl game and seeing coach Kliff Kingsbury fired after five seasons.
In one last-ditch effort, Kingsbury benched senior quarterback Nic Shimonek for junior college transfer McLane Carter. It worked for a little while, as the Red Raiders took a 10-7 lead early in the second quarter. Unfortunately, the half ended with 2 punts and 2 interceptions.
By the end of the third quarter, down, 23-13, Kingsbury had enough. He finally decided to turn back to his senior quarterback, Shimonek, in what could be the final quarter of football of his career. It turned out to be one of Kingsbury’s best decisions.
In the first drive of the fourth quarter, Shimonek led a 6-play touchdown drive to cut the lead to 23-20 with plenty of time left to play. The defense continued to play well, holding the Longhorns to a pair of 3-and-outs while Shimonek tried to regain control of the offense.
Then, Texas took over at its 29-yard line. The Longhorns started to move down the field with precision – it appeared the defense was out of gas. Quarterback Sam Ehlinger led a 34-yard drive that had the Longhorns on the edge of field goal range.
Suddenly, defensive back Justus Parker jumped in and intercepted an Ehlinger pass at the 31-yard line. He returned it 55 yards to the Texas 14-yard line. Two plays later, Shimonek completed a 16-yard touchdown pass to give the Red Raiders a 27-23 lead. Five plays later, Ehlinger threw another interception to ice the game.
The win helped Texas Tech get bowl eligible for the first time since 2015. After the game, it was also released that Kingsbury would be the coach in 2018. If Texas Tech misses a bowl game, it’s unclear whether he would have returned.
Shimonek will also get one more start; look for him in the Birmingham Bowl. The tenor of the season changed completely after Texas Tech pulled off the impressive win in Austin, and sent the Longhorns into a tailspin.
Make sure and keep tuned to DieHards for the best moment for each remaining Big 12 team in the coming days.
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