Needing a victory to turn around a disappointing start, Texas Tech turned to Taylor Potts and his high-powered passing offense. Potts threw for 462 yards and four touchdowns, and Texas Tech avoided its first-ever 0-3 start in the Big 12 as it held off Baylor 45-38 on Saturday. The Red Raiders (3-2, 1-2) were coming off consecutive losses to Texas and Iowa State. Texas Tech hadn't been 0-3 in league play since 1990 when it was a member of the now-defunct Southwest Conference.
During the week, Red Raiders players did not downplay the fact they faced a must-win game situation. "This was huge," Potts said. "We felt this was going to define our team. We needed to come out and put it together for four quarters." Potts, who completed 15 straight passes on one point in the first half and finished 42 of 59, guided an offense which gained 635 total yards.
It was Texas Tech's biggest offensive outburst since it piled up 739 last Oct. 10 against Kansas State. "It was absolutely our best performance," Red Raiders running back Baron Batch said. "But we've got so much more potential. We're going to be a good team."
The Red Raiders scored on their first two possessions in the third quarter to surge ahead 45-28. Their offense sputtered after that, allowing the Bears to come back as the two teams combined to gain 1,142 yards.
Baylor (4-2, 1-1) has dropped 15 consecutive games to Texas Tech. The Bears were looking to start 5-1 for the first time since 1994, the last year they played in a bowl game. Terrance Ganaway returned an onside kick for a touchdown and quarterback Robert Griffin threw for 384 yards and accounted for four touchdowns, including a 2-yard run that cut Texas Tech's lead to 45-38 early in the fourth quarter.
The Bears had chances to tie the game after that. They had a drive stall at the 16 when they couldn't convert fourth-and-15. Baylor had one last opportunity when it took possession at its 34 with 57 seconds left. The Bears drove to the Tech 31, but time expired before they got off a final play.
This is the third season in a row the Bears have lost to the Red Raiders by seven points. "We're not into playing exciting games and neither are our players," Baylor coach Art Briles said. "We're into winning football games." The Red Raiders led 35-28 at halftime and quickly built on their advantage in the third quarter. Matt Williams kicked a 30-yard field goal and Potts went 6 of 8 on an 84-yard touchdown drive. Batch caught a 7-yard pass to make it 45-28. Texas Tech's Detron Lewis had 11 receptions for 95 yards and Batch rushed for 97.
"It feels great to get back on a winning track," Red Raiders coach Tommy Tuberville said. "We've got a much better team than what we've showed the last couple of weeks." Potts, who was 25 of 32 for 306 yards in the first half, threw a 3-yard scoring pass to Alexander Torres that gave the Red Raiders a 28-21 lead in the second quarter. Torres also had a 1-yard TD in the opening quarter.
The string of consecutive completions from Potts came to an end when he misfired on a short screen pass late in the first half. Two plays later, Potts connected with Lewis on a 10-yard score to cap a 92-yard drive and put the Red Raiders ahead 35-21.
Kendall Wright, who had 145 yards receiving, hauled in a 62-yard touchdown pass from Griffin to bring Baylor within 35-28.
The Bears went 82 yards on its opening drive, which was capped by Griffin's 1-yard sneak. The Red Raiders answered when Eric Stephens broke free for a 10-yard touchdown run on fourth-and-1.
Texas Tech attempted an onside kick, but the ball didn't travel the required 10 yards. After a Red Raiders player failed to touch the ball, Ganaway scooped up the loose ball and ran 38 yards for a touchdown. Baylor's special teams was also successful on a fake punt which led to Griffin's 34-yard touchdown pass to Josh Gordon, putting the Bears on top 21-14. Batch broke three tackles on a 37-yard TD run which evened it at 21 with 10:53 left in the first half.
Saturday's game was played at the Cotton Bowl, the second straight time Texas Tech and Baylor have faced off at a neutral site. Last season's meeting was played at nearby Cowboys Stadium.