LUBBOCK, Texas — Texas Tech coach Tommy Tuberville wasn't quite ready to say his win over a ranked team signals a turnaround in the season.
Texas Tech beat then-No. 14 Missouri 24-17 on Saturday night.
"I would say, whether it's a turnaround or not, we found a way to win," said Tuberville, who's in his first season at Texas Tech. "We got behind. We caught up and then we got ahead and we kept the lead."
Not long into the first quarter against the Tigers it looked like the Red Raiders might drop below .500 and remain at the bottom of the Big 12 South. On the third play from scrimmage, Missouri running back Marcus Murphy went 69 yards for a touchdown. Less than five minutes later, Kendial Lawrence ran untouched for a 71-yard score, and Tech was down 14-0.
It's rare for a team to give up two long touchdown rushes and still win, Tuberville said Monday.
"It just doesn't happen," he said. "We got knocked on the canvas, and if this would have been a boxing match we'd have barely struggled to get up after that first quarter. But we got back up, we regrouped and these guys found a way to get it done."
Texas Tech (5-4, 3-4 Big 12) managed a field goal late in the first quarter but its offense, behind backup quarterback Steven Sheffield, struggled, tallying 104 total yards in the opening period.
Sheffield added 9 passing yards in the second quarter before Tuberville replaced him with Taylor Potts with about 5 minutes remaining in the first half. Potts didn't start for the first time this season.
He proceeded to lead the team on three straight scoring drives (82, 70 and 85 yards), with touchdown passes of 8, 5 and 16 yards to wipe out a 17-3 deficit.
Texas Tech's defense felt the mojo after Potts came in, and Missouri didn't score the rest of the game, gaining 62 total yards and three first downs after halftime.
"I thought we had a chance to get back in it at the end of the third quarter, fourth quarter but they had that seven-point lead and we struggled on offense," Tigers coach Gary Pinkel said after the game. "We had trouble making plays and moving the football."
Tuberville gave his defense credit for slowing a "very explosive" Missouri offense.
"It was fun to watch them have success," he said. "As the game went on they'd throw a screen pass and we wouldn't have one or two, we'd have three or four making the play."
Potts, who will start at No. 19 Oklahoma, said the team has had some "pretty unlucky stuff" happen in the Red Raiders four losses both offensively and defensively, like "the ball not bouncing our way" several times.
"At times we just couldn't put it together at the same time but it seemed like on Saturday...really and truly for the first time we fed off each other," Potts said.
Running back Baron Batch, who had a career-high 28 carries against the Tigers for 134 yards, said it was nice to win the game but stopped short of acknowledging it signals a turnaround.
"We have to do that every week, we can't look ahead or look back," Batch said. "We have to focus on the week that's at hand, and that's what we are going to do going into Oklahoma."
The only thing that's ever been close to certain in the Big 12 is that, by the end of November, either Oklahoma or Texas would emerge atop the South division.
That tradition might have been tossed out the window after another wild weekend in league play.
The Sooners suffered their second league loss, this time to up-and-down Texas A&M. Texas continued its freefall with a loss at Kansas State that guaranteed its worst season under coach Mack Brown.
All that chaos helped Oklahoma State more than anyone else. The Cowboys pounded upstart Baylor 55-28 and took control of its own destiny in the South in what many thought would be a rebuilding year.