Iowa State Football Is What Texas Tech Wants to Be
In a lot of ways, Iowa State and Texas Tech share similarities. They aren't the premiere university in their state. They've never been the best. They both have lackluster bowl records. The Cyclones have certainly been the better program over the last four years, but they aren't out of Texas Tech's league.
Iowa State's success is certainly within the realm of possibility. I haven't seen a coach as universally lauded for winning seven regular-season games since Mike Leach was the next big thing in Lubbock, going to bowl games every year.
Iowa State has been a pretender for the Big 12 title for the last several seasons, with no real shot at winning, but still with the opportunity to ruin someone else's chances of doing so. I'm not trying to bash Matt Campbell, because I think he's a very good coach, but Iowa State is exactly what they look like: a second-tier Big 12 team.
Texas Tech head coach Matt Wells has been hammered in recent weeks for being bad in close games. He's 1-5 in his Texas Tech career in one-score games. Matt Campbell is 9-9 since 2017 at Iowa State. In 2016, his first season where the Cyclones went 3-9, Campbell went 1-3 with a loss to Northern Iowa and a 31-24 win over Kansas.
If Matt Wells had gone .500 in one-possession games in his first season at Texas Tech, they would have played in a bowl game.
It might feel like Campbell and Iowa State have surged past the Red Raiders as a program in the last four seasons. While that might be true in the win column, it's certainly not true in the long term. Iowa State hitting at least 7-5 and going to a bowl game every year used to be what Texas Tech did. It's comfortable. Every other year, a team is in a position for a few weeks to do some damage. They always feel like they have a chance heading into a game.
Texas Tech had that once. Can they get it again?
To me, the distance between Texas Tech and Iowa State as programs is a single possession. Recent history says that Texas Tech loses that single possession game more often than not. Heading to Ames this weekend, that streak likely continues for Texas Tech as Iowa State stretches their winning streak to five over the Red Raiders on their way to another slightly above-average season.