Red Raiders arrive at the make-or-break end of the season

Kliff Kingsbury believes this is his most competitive Texas Tech team.

Texas Tech has two games left in the regular season to redeem what has been a roller-coaster campaign.

The Red Raiders (5-5, 3-4 in the Big 12) pushed Oklahoma and Texas to the limit the last two weeks, but lost the two home games by a combined 12 points.

Next up, Texas Tech travels to play struggling Kansas State, which fended off Kansas on Saturday for a 3-point victory. The Wildcats (4-6, 2-5) still have a chance to get to a bowl game this season, although they would have to defeat the Red Raiders and then go to Iowa State and win in order to do that.

Still, with rumors circulating that longtime Kansas State coach Bill Snyder will retire after this season, the motivation is there for the Wildcats to give a Herculean effort down the stretch.

“I hope there’s no announcement made prior to the game,” Kingsbury said about the possibility of Snyder retiring. “And I hope he coaches for five more years because he’s such a legend and he’s great for our conference.”

Intangibles aside, Texas Tech goes from facing the top offense in the Big 12 versus Oklahoma and a group of rising offensive stars versus Texas to the last-ranked offense in the Big 12 against Kansas State.

The Wildcats can run the ball effectively, though, and will very likely try to control the ball and the clock and keep Texas Tech’s offense off the field.

On Saturday, Texas Tech quarterback Jett Duffey showed he can run the Red Raiders’ prolific offense as well as the injured, budding star Alan Bowman, especially when Duffey holds on to the ball. Duffey gave up an interception and two fumbles that proved costly in the loss to Texas. But he also passed for 440 yards and a touchdown and rushed for 80 yards.

There’s the potential for the Red Raiders’ strengths to come together — stopping the run on defense and making big plays on offense — at Kansas State. But a hiccup and/or a Kansas State uprising could make it a very nervous end of the season for Kingsbury and Texas Tech.