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Gambles Don't Pay Off For McGuire and Red Raiders in Loss to No. 7 Horned Frogs

Texas Tech attempted two fourth-down conversions in its own territory vs. TCU on Saturday and it cost them.

Texas Tech coach Joey McGuire likes to gamble. He likes to take chances. He has a healthy respect for analytics. Sometimes the analytics tell you to go for it.

The analytics might really have told McGuire to go for it on fourth down twice in the fourth quarter in their own territory in the Red Raiders’ 34-24 loss to No. 7 TCU on Saturday. If so, the loss is more on McGuire than on his players, especially his defense.

When the fourth quarter started the Red Raiders had a 17-13 lead over the undefeated Horned Frogs. Texas Tech had just punted late in the third quarter, and TCU was driving inside Red Raider territory. Tech still had momentum as the Red Raider defense was playing an outstanding game, especially end Tyree Wilson, who was in the TCU backfield the entire game.

That momentum disappeared under the weight of TCU’s offensive breakthrough and was accelerated by McGuire’s decision-making when it came to fourth down.

The Horned Frogs continued to use running back Kendre Miller — who finished with 158 rushing yards — as a battering ram. The Tech defense had played well but was also wearing down a bit. 

Then three big defensive penalties on a single drive hurt the Red Raiders' efforts, extending the TCU possession each time, resulting in Miller’s two-yard touchdown run that gave the Horned Frogs their first offensive touchdown of the game and a 20-17 lead.

Still, the game was far from over. Nearly all of the fourth quarter remained and even with backup quarterback Tyler Shough running the show, Texas Tech had a chance to win.

That chance evaporated under the weight of questionable decision-making and a lack of execution

The Red Raiders went for it on fourth down on the next two possessions. Both times the Red Raiders were in their own territory when they did it. Both times they failed to convert. Both times, the Horned Frogs turned those mistakes into touchdowns.

The first came right after TCU’s go-ahead score. Tech faced 4th and 2 at the Tech 36. McGuire inserted third-string quarterback Donovan Smith, who failed to convert the first down after rushing for just two yards. He missed a wide-open running back, Tahj Brooks, in the flat.

Three players later TCU quarterback Max Duggan hit wide receiver Derius Davis for a 23-yard touchdown pass and a 10-point Horned Frogs lead. The play, against Tech’s zone defense, saw Davis split through four Red Raiders defenders to catch the pass on a long slant.

Davis also scored the game’s first touchdown, which came on an 82-yard punt return after Tech's first possession.

The Tech offense failed again on the next drive. The Red Raiders started on their own 26 and reached their own 45 before Shough failed to connect with wide receiver Myles Price on 4th and 4.

TCU had the football again and scored again, this time with Duggan connecting with Emari Demercado on a 16-yard touchdown pass with 5:46 remaining.

With TCU up 34-17, the game was basically over.

The fourth quarter negated the first three quarters, which were filled with Texas Tech playing quality defense while its offense overcame the loss to starting quarterback Behren Morton in the first half.

To win games, a team has to finish. The Red Raiders didn’t. And McGuire’s penchant for gambling cost Texas Tech on Saturday.

You can find Matthew Postins on Twitter @PostinsPostcard

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