LUBBOCK, Texas — Everything’s bigger in the Lone Star State. Texas Tech proved everything’s faster, too.
The tempo at which the Red Raiders’ offense operated Saturday was as sizzling as the 100-plus-degree temperatures that hovered atop the synthetic turf at Jones AT&T Stadium, and Montana State couldn’t keep pace.
In coach Matt Wells’ first game as head coach, Texas Tech appeared in midseason form while running 91 plays and rolling up 691 total yards. The Bobcats did their best to gut it out, but they were outmanned and outmaneuvered in a 45-10 defeat.
Red Raiders quarterback Alan Bowman completed 40 of 55 passes for 436 yards and two touchdowns, and connected with 11 different receivers. Running back Armand Shyne had 125 rushing yards and a touchdown on just 11 carries.
Tech hit MSU with an 11-play, 85-yard scoring drive right out of the gate, and it consumed just 3 minutes, 24 seconds.
It was a good indicator of how the rest of the day was going to play out.
“That tempo definitely is faster than anything that I’ve ever gone against and this defense has gone against,” said MSU defensive end Bryce Sterk, though he looked no worse for wear. “We knew coming out that they had their first 10 plays scripted or whatever and they were going to go really quick.”
“I think the tempo kind of killed us,” safety Brayden Konkol conceded. “At first I thought we were playing pretty solid defensively but as the game went on you could tell we were getting worn out. They definitely wore us down with the tempo.”
On the other side of the ball, Casey Bauman made his first career start as MSU’s quarterback and performed serviceably against a Big 12 defense. Bauman, a redshirt freshman, threw for 120 yards and a touchdown and, notably, helmed an offense that didn’t commit a turnover.
His best sequence came early in the second quarter.
With the Bobcats trailing 14-0, Bauman hit receiver Kevin Kassis with a 35-yard pass down the sideline — a tough catch by Kassis, to be sure — and two plays later found Coy Steel streaking down the field for a 31-yard touchdown strike.
Bauman admitted to being nervous when the game started, but also said he thought he was able to settle down.
“They were there,” Bauman said of his nerves. “Coming into a Big 12 stadium and playing, they were there for sure. But I think once we got moving we were able to do some good things.”
“I think in the first half he had some wide-open guys and wasn’t able to put the ball on them, but he did some nice things as the game progressed,” Bobcats coach Jeff Choate said of Bauman.
“I thought he did a better job of calming down and taking what was available. He stood in the pocket and took some shots, and I was really proud of that.”
Bauman completed 7 of 19 passes and was sacked once. He also rushed 10 times for 13 yards as the Bobcats struggled to get much going on the ground, especially in the first half.
MSU’s longest drive was a 9-play, 80-yarder that culminated in Steel’s touchdown catch. It started after Jahque Alleyne forced and recovered a fumble from Xavier White at the goal line after a 35-yard catch and run.
The Bobcats successfully converted a fake punt later in that possession as up-man Callahan O’Reilly took the snap and ran 7 yards to move the chains.
In the fourth quarter, MSU put together an 8-play, 55-yard possession that resulted in a 37-yard field goal by Tristan Bailey.
“I was proud of our guys,” Choate said. “This can be a very intimidating environment coming out here. We had really no way to simulate what we were going to get ourselves into but I thought our guys handled it very well.
“Certainly at times we were overmatched in some areas, but I think our guys continued to compete.”
Bowman, playing in his first game since suffering a collapsed lung late last season, was perfect on his first 12 pass attempts in the first quarter. In the end, Bowman averaged 10.9 yards per completion and Tech’s offense averaged 7.3 yards per snap.
Those were difficult numbers for MSU to counter.
“Good start. Really good start to the game,” Wells said. “I thought we came out ready to play on both sides of the ball.”
The Red Raiders’ opening drive was capped by a 5-yard touchdown pass from Bowman to McLane Mannix on the outside. ShaRodorick Thompson added a 1-yard scoring run on their next possession for a 14-0 lead. That was the first of Thompson’s two touchdown runs.
Shyne had a 69-yard TD scamper immediately following Steel’s scoring catch. Bowman hit White with a 45-yard touchdown in the fourth quarter. Bowman also ran for a score, a 5-yard run with 5:23 remaining.
“I think we’ve just got to be better at tackling,” said Konkol, who had a team-high nine tackles. “We had a lot of missed tackles that led to extra yards.
“I think we definitely made a lot of mistakes and we can get better from it. And we will get better from it.”
Montana State will welcome Southeast Missouri to Bobcat Stadium for a Week 2 matchup this coming Saturday.
NOTES: The air temperature at kickoff was 95 degrees, though the thermometers on the field were reading well over 100. … MSU WR Travis Jonsen was held out due to an undisclosed injury. ... Bobcats RB Isaiah Ifanse had just 17 rushing yards at halftime but finished with 77 yards on 15 carries. … Sterk had MSU’s only quarterback sack. … MSU’s Jered Padmos averaged 51.4 yards on nine punts, and pinned three inside the 20, including one at the 1 yard line.