Dec 28, 2022; Houston, Texas, USA; Texas Tech Red Raiders quarterback Tyler Shough (12) holds the MVP trophy and head coach Joey McGuire holds the championship trophy after the Red Raiders defeated the Mississippi Rebels in the 2022 Texas Bowl at NRG Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports
Texas Tech’s 42-25 domination of Ole Miss in the TaxAct Texas Bowl is just the beginning under head coach Joey McGuire
Texas Tech 42, Ole Miss 25
The Texas Tech Red Raiders defeated the Ole Miss Rebels in the TaxAct Texas Bowl, 42-25. Quarterback Tyler Shough found success both running and passing, while the Red Raiders’ defense forced five turnovers in Tech’s eighth win of the season.
Texas Tech’s football program had been stuck in neutral in recent years, failing to finish a regular season above .500 since 2015. Enter Joey McGuire, hired to coach the Red Raiders after five seasons on Baylor’s staff and after three Texas state championships as the head coach at Cedar Hill High School.
The Red Raiders finished 7-5 in the 2022 regular season under McGuire, the first coach to ever lead Tech to wins over both Texas and Oklahoma in the same season. McGuire’s Red Raiders also finished the regular season on a three-game winning streak, the first Texas Tech team to do so since 1995. With a 5-4 record in Big 12 play, Joey McGuire’s team was the first at Tech to finish conference play with a winning record since the late Mike Leach’s 2009 team. The 2022 Red Raiders even posted the highest team GPA in program history, a further sign of the culture being built by McGuire in his short time in Lubbock.
It came as no surprise Wednesday when Texas Tech awarded its first-year coach a new six-year, $26.6 million contract that runs through 2028. Joey McGuire fits like a glove with the Red Raiders. A Texan born and raised, McGuire has worked his way up the coaching ranks the old-fashioned way, and takes pride in the “Texas high school football” ethic he brings to work every day.
What has made Joey McGuire’s first-year success in Lubbock so impressive was the adversity the Red Raiders have dealt with along the way. Texas Tech has had to lean on three different quarterbacks for extended periods and still managed to maintain one of the country’s most successful offenses. Tyler Shough, Behren Morton, and Donovan Smith all passed for at least 1,000 yards for Tech this season. Even with Donovan Smith departing for Houston, the Red Raiders will go into 2023 with two great options at quarterback in Shough and Morton. Running backs SaRodorick Thompson and Tahj Brooks each averaged more than 4.5 yards per carry. Thompson earned his degree earlier this fall, but Brooks will be back for the Red Raiders next season.
In a game that figured to see plenty of aggressive head coaching decisions and high-flying offense, Ole Miss head coach Lane Kiffin rolled the dice with a fourth-and-7 try on the Rebels’ opening drive close to midfield. After the Red Raiders came up with a big stop, Tyler Shough led Texas Tech’s offense onto the field for the first time.
Before beginning their march into Ole Miss territory, the Red Raiders took a moment to honor former head coach Mike Leach, who passed away on Dec. 12 at 61 years old. Tech’s offense lined up with extra space between its offensive linemen and five receivers in formation, paying homage to the late Mike Leach’s Air Raid offense.
Shough drove Tech downfield impressively to start the game, but an interception in the end zone gave Ole Miss back the football. After a second consecutive failed fourth down attempt by the Rebels, Texas Tech’s second possession began in Ole Miss territory. Faced with a fourth-and-goal of its own from the Ole Miss 2-yard line, Joey McGuire rolled the dice as well. With quarterback Behren Morton under center and quarterback Tyler Shough lined up in the backfield in the same formation, the snap went past Morton and into Shough’s hands, who powered his way into the end zone to give the Red Raiders a 7-0 lead.
Ole Miss didn’t take long to tie what figured to be a back-and-forth game, going 75 yards in just five plays and capping off a touchdown drive with Zach Evans’ 8-yard run. A field goal from Texas Tech kicker Trey Wolff put the Red Raiders ahead 10-7 on the ensuing drive.
It was clear in the first half that using quarterbacks in the run game was a big part of Texas Tech’s game plan. Ole Miss struggled not only to keep the Red Raiders from gaining consistent yardage but also shot itself in the foot with multiple personal foul penalties stemming from hitting Tyler Shough after he had already slid to give himself up. The second such call was reviewed and upgraded to targeting, resulting in the Rebels’ leading tackler, Troy Brown’s ejection from the game in the second quarter.
That Texas Tech drive would stall when the Ole Miss defense held up on a fourth-and-goal stand, but Red Raiders’ defensive back Marquis Waters picked off quarterback Jaxson Dart’s pass just four plays later. The interception set up Tech at the Ole Miss 9-yard line, and Tyler Shough’s second rushing touchdown of the night extended the Red Raiders’ lead to 17-7 with seven minutes left in the half.
Ole Miss fell to just 1-for-5 on fourth down after being stopped once again on its next drive, setting up Texas Tech with yet another drive in plus territory. This time, the Red Raiders would settle for Trey Wolff’s second field goal of the night and a 20-7 lead.
Texas Tech forced the Rebels’ third turnover of the first half when Jaxson Dart fumbled with 1:42 remaining before the break, setting up yet another opportunity with excellent field position for the Red Raiders’ offense. Tyler Shough found freshman wide receiver Jerand Bradley for a 12-yard touchdown, and Texas Tech rolled into halftime with a 26-7 lead after the 2-point conversion attempt failed. The Red Raiders finished the first half having already run 50 plays, putting them in position to tire out the Ole Miss defense in the second half.
The Red Raiders’ first possession of the second half fizzled out, resulting in the game’s first punt by either team. Ole Miss made them pay for it, narrowing the score to 26-13 after Jaxson Dart connected with Jordan Watkins for a touchdown and the extra point was missed.
Ole Miss committed its second targeting penalty of the game on its first punt, with Ladarius Tennison getting disqualified from the game and setting up Texas Tech with another opportunity in excellent field position. Tyler Shough fumbled away the scoring chance, but the Red Raiders’ defense earned its offense another possession with a fourth down stop. This time, a deep pass from Tyler Shough to Jerand Bradley set up SaRodorick Thompson’s 1-yard touchdown run. Texas Tech led 32-13 after a failed 2-point conversion, pushing Ole Miss to the brink with 13 minutes to play. Texas Tech would force the Rebels’ fourth turnover of the night on the drive that followed when Ole Miss wide receiver Dayton Wade fumbled. On the drive that followed, Tyler Shough eclipsed 100 rushing yards early in the fourth quarter, and the Red Raiders extended their lead to 35-13 with a field goal.
Jaxson Dart sprinted into the end zone with just under eight minutes left for Ole Miss, pulling the Rebels within two scores at 35-19. Ole Miss kept its comeback hopes alive despite Texas Tech’s run game continuing to dominate on its next possession. Red Raiders’ running back Cam’Ron Valdez was polishing off a 28-yard touchdown run when Rebels’ defender Miles Battle punched the ball out of Valdez’s hands before he crossed the goal line. With the ball rolling through the end zone, Ole Miss was awarded a touchback giving the Rebels back the football and keeping the game within reach.
Rebels’ wide receiver Malik Heath made the best catch of the night to cap off what became an 80-yard drive for Ole Miss, but yet another failed 2-point conversion attempt left the score at 35-25 with 3:10 to go. The Red Raiders officially put the game to bed on the ensuing kickoff, an onside kick attempt returned by Tech wide receiver Loic Fouonji for a 44-yard touchdown and a 42-25 lead.
Senior defensive back Tyler Owens finished his career at Texas Tech with an interception of Jaxson Dart in the game’s final seconds, completing the 17-point win.
The 42-25 TaxAct Texas Bowl win was Texas Tech’s first in four bowl game matchups versus Ole Miss and the program’s second consecutive bowl win following last season’s Liberty Bowl triumph. Tyler Shough finished 24-for-39 with 242 passing yards and a touchdown but made an even bigger mark on the game with his legs. Shough finished the night with 25 carries, 111 yards, and 2 rushing touchdowns – all career-highs.
Texas Tech finishes its season 8-5, the program’s first eight-win season since 2013. In most cases, first-year coaches are afforded a year or two of grace before expectations ratchet up. If 2022 was just step one under Joey McGuire, Red Raiders’ fans should be excited about what is to come.
What Joey McGuire is building in Lubbock is about more than a Texas Bowl win. McGuire’s Red Raiders have aspirations of winning Big 12 titles and beyond, building a program to be reckoned with in West Texas.
As McGuire exclaimed postgame while hoisting the Texas Bowl trophy as confetti rained down around him, “You ain’t seen nothing yet!”