Lubbock, TX (CBS Dallas)- The Red Raiders 2018 season was a tale of two halves. The first seven games of the year behind freshman quarterback Alan Bowman, TTU went 5-2 and looked poised to possibly make some noise in the Big 12 race. Then, Bowman suffered a collapsed lung, was lost for the season and Tech dropped each of their final five games en route to a 5-7 record.

With that drop-off, out went Kliff Kingsbury and in came former Utah State head coach Matt Wells. Wells’ Aggies were one of the best Group of 5 teams in the country last year, with sophomore QB Jordan Love leading the way to an 11-2 record. As he takes over at TTU, Bowman returns to the saddle as a sophomore, fully recovered from the collapsed lung last season.

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Bowman has a full complement of options at his disposal with receivers RJ Turner, Seth Collins, T.J. Vasher, and KeSean Carter all back to go with the addition of Nevada transfer McLane Mannix. With six offensive linemen back and a pair of intriguing running back options, the Red Raiders offense should remain fun to watch.

The defense, which was the Achilles heel of the Kingsbury era, is where Wells will look to make the most improvement. Defensive coordinator Keith Patterson does have some veterans to work with, as tackle Broderick Washington Jr., linebacker Jordyn Brooks and corner Damarcus Fields all return. With all of that in mind, what can fans expect from Tech this season? Well, the preseason Big 12 media poll pegged them to finish seventh behind Baylor but ahead of West Virginia, Kansas State and Kansas.

CBS Sports college football analyst Houston Nutt thinks that the passion and energy that Wells will instill in the program this season will help propel the Red Raiders back to bowl eligibility at least.

“I think that he is going to inject some things into the program that will breed confidence, and he will work from daylight to exhaustion. It is not easy, but I think that if you study where he has been and the things that he has done at Utah State and elsewhere, he has done an outstanding job,” said Nutt. “I look for big things at Texas Tech. Everybody wants to win yesterday, and it’s not easy, but I think that he can make a push and get to six wins.”

“I know there are some holes, and there are some things to fix,” continued Nutt. “But I really think that the way that they recruited and the way they are going to coach, the enthusiasm and the passion that he will have, you never know, the ball may bounce in their favor.”

The Red Raiders open their season with a home game against Montana State this Saturday, August 31st at 3:00 p.m. Central Time. Here is the complete schedule:

8/31 vs. Montana State, 3:00 p.m. CT

9/7 vs. UTEP, 7:30 p.m. CT

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9/14 @ Arizona, 9:30 p.m. CT

9/28 @ #4 Oklahoma, TBD

10/5 vs. Oklahoma State, TBD

10/12 @ Baylor, TBD

10/19 vs. #21 Iowa State, TBD

10/26 @ Kansas, TBD

11/9 @ West Virginia, TBD

11/16 vs. TCU, TBD

11/23 vs. Kansas State, TBD

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11/29 @ #10 Texas, 11:00 a.m. CT