October 30, 2011

Tech fans, team upset

The strange thing about Saturday's 41-7 loss against Iowa State wasn't the emotion of the Red Raider fanbase, but rather the lack of emotion.

After the mass exodus of fans somewhere in the third quarter, there was a strange mix of people left in Jones AT&T Stadium.

There were the loyalists still chanting 'Raider Power' even though it was clear the Red Raiders had been thoroughly beaten. There were the fans not of an age to fully understand football jammed up against each other hoping to catch game-worn gloves and sweatbands just after the final gun. There were people who obviously smuggled alcohol into the stadium who were content with life.

Then there were clusters of fans who took the loss with a good, but strange, sense of humor. They cheered loudly when the Red Raiders downed a punt in the final seconds of the game -- maybe one of Tech's second half highlights.

They were channeling sheer frustration into jokes at the expense of themselves and their team.

And that's somewhat fitting because 2011 Iowa State game will be remembered as 'a laugher.' It was the letdown game well-informed fans talked about, no one predicted and everyone suffered through.

What happened out there?

"I don't really know," quarterback Seth Doege said after the game while on the brink of losing control of his emotions. "I just know that we weren't ready to play, and it showed and we embarrassed ourselves and we embarrassed our coaches and our fans and it's something we need to work on. We have a lot of improvement to do. But like I said, give them credit. They were ready to play. They were confident and came in and did exactly what they wanted to do."

Such a strange scene played out Saturday, just a few hours less than a full week since Tech had defeated No. 3 Oklahoma and snapped a 39-game home winning streak for the Sooners.

That night there were parties all over Red Raider Nation, everywhere it encompasses.

Then that same Tech team loses to a 3-4 Iowa State team that was winless in Big 12 play and not only loses but loses decisively?

What was that team, and what'd they do with the guys who seemingly could beat anyone? But more importantly, what kind of team shows up in Austin next week as the Tech-Texas rivalry approaches the cusp of becoming the premiere in-state football rivalry?

Maybe the Oklahoma win was too much for a Red Raider squad that had never experienced a victory like that before.

Head coach Tommy Tuberville said it's time for his team to come back to the real world, a world where anyone can beat Tech any given week if the Red Raiders can't get up for them.

"We've won five and we've lost three now," Tuberville said. "We're getting ready to head to a big rival next week down in Austin. It will be another challenge for us. Obviously there won't be the phone interviews for players and the attention on campus, and we go back to reality. And sometimes you have to have that. You gotta get knocked back to reality. Coaches all the way down to managers, players, everybody. That's what it is."

Doege agreed that maybe some players hadn't let go of last week's big win.

"I'm sure -- I mean, tonight kind of proves that maybe some of us were still on cloud nine," Doege said. "But we felt like we practiced well but today you could tell that some guys weren't really mentally into it. And I made some mental mistakes. So it's a team effort.

"But Iowa State came in here did what they wanted. They were ready and we weren't."

So a phased fanbase suffers with the Red Raiders, hoping they've seen the last shocking upset loss in Lubbock for a good while.

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