When Texas travels to Lubbock to play Texas Tech on Saturday afternoon, it will be a homecoming of sorts for several Longhorns with ties to the area.
"The West Texas guys love this game and all their buddies will be talking to them all week," UT coach Mack Brown said.
Freshman tailback and former Aledo High School star Johnathan Gray returns to the stadium where his father, James, starred for the Red Raiders from 1986-89. The elder Gray is the second leading rusher in Texas Tech history and keeps his son well informed of the fact.
"We have a funny rivalry between us," Johnathan Gray said. "He says his school is better than our school and I say our school is better than his school. It's just a fun game to play in between family."
So where will James Gray's allegiances lie on Saturday?
"I think he's going to go with his son and go for Texas," said Gray, who is second in rushing for UT this season with 427 yards.
Backup quarterback Case McCoy knows his share of Red Raiders, too.
"I want to beat Tech, my whole high school goes to Tech," said McCoy, who attended Graham High School. "That's the last team I ever want to lose to."
Texas offensive lineman Mason Walters has experienced the rivalry's intensity both as a player and spectator. The redshirt junior grew up in the Lubbock area and attended many Red Raiders games as a kid.
"I remember the tortillas being thrown back in the late 90s, when they didn't get penalties for it," Walters said. "There's just something about that environment, everybody just gets riled up for the game and pulls really hard for their team. It's a great college football environment."
Wide receiver Mike Davis knows all too well about the harsh environment Jones AT&T Stadium presents for visiting players. Davis said he was hit by a tortilla when Texas last visited Lubbock in 2010 (UT won 24-14). He's expecting more of the same treatment this time.
"That's a rough environment," Davis said. "They are probably camping outside the stadium right now waiting to throw tortillas at us and cuss us out. But I like it though."
Texas (6-2, 3-2 Big 12) is 3-1 away from home this season. No. 22 Texas Tech (6-2, 3-2) is 3-1 at home, with a signature victory against West Virginia on Oct. 13.
By Austin Laymance/Special to the Star-Telegram