For all the talk about Texas Tech's electrifying offense, the Red Raiders' defense has been a big spark to the team this season.
So much so that the 2009 version of the Raiders have tied a school record for the most sacks in a season with 40. That's the same number of sacks Tech accumulated in 2001 during coach Mike Leach's second season in Lubbock.
After the Raiders picked up four sacks during Saturday's 20-13 win over Baylor, Bears coach Art Briles said he was overly impressed with Tech's defense.
"Texas Tech is a good football team defensively, that's the main thing everybody overlooks,'' Briles said. "They've done a good job for a long time.
"When you get chances to score (against Tech), you've got to score points.''
Defensive end Brandon Sharpe is the No. 1 sack leader for the Raiders and a nightmare for opposing players. With two sacks against Baylor, Sharpe set the school's single-season sack record with 15, surpassing the 14 sacks Adell Duckett collected in 2003.
Those 15 sacks also puts Sharpe second in the nation in that category behind Texas A&M's Von Miller, who has 17 sacks. Meanwhile, those 40 team sacks puts Tech second in the nation behind Pittsburgh, who has 43 sacks.
Tech's defense was on full display in the waning moments of Saturday's game. Baylor took over at its 35 with 6:16 left in the game and trailing 20-13.
The Bears eventually had a first-and-goal from the Tech 10, and a fourth-and-goal from the 5. But a fourth-down pass from quarterback Blake Szymanski fell incomplete and Tech went home with an 8-4 record.
"I thought that (last defensive stand) was the key to the game,'' Leach said. "I thought the team that played with our defense the last third of the game would have won.
"Our d-linemen did a good job of getting pressure, and then just our defense as a whole rallying that last, really the last third of the game. We got turnovers, we stopped drives.''
Now how often do you hear the phrase "we got turnovers, we stopped drives'' and Texas Tech mentioned in the same sentence? But the Raiders have discovered things come much easier when they can mix a potent defense with a potent offense and solid play by the special teams.
"I think our defense has bailed us out of many situations throughout the season and getting key stops and key turnovers, and they literally won the game for us (against Baylor),'' receiver Alex Torres said. "They outplayed any other aspect of our team.
"A lot of credit goes out to what they did, because like I said they won the game for us.''
-- Dwain Price