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Off the Practice Field...Head Coach Spike Dykes

One more challenge awaits the Texas Tech Red Raiders (6-4, 4-3) as they prepare for their final regular-season game against the Oklahoma University Sooners (3-7, 3-4) Saturday in Norman.

The Red Raiders, who have already secured one of the five bowl berths guaranteed to the Big 12 Conference, are coming off a 56-21 victory over Southwestern Louisiana.

"I don't think we've played better defense than we did in the first half (of that game)," said Tech head coach Spike Dykes in his weekly press briefing Monday.

In that game, Tech I-back and Heisman Trophy candidate Byron Hanspard became only the sixth back in NCAA division IA history to rush for more than 2,000 yards in a season. The others were Marcus Allen, Mike Rozier, Barry Sanders, Rashaan Salaam and Troy Davis. Of the five, only Davis did not win the Heisman Trophy.

"It means something to a program (for a back to get 2,000 yards)," said Dykes.

Hanspard's 257 rushing yards on 37 carries gave him exactly 2,000 for the year, already ranking as the sixth-best rushing season in collegiate history with one more game to go.

For his performance against USL, Hanspard was named the Big 12 Conference Offensive Player of the week, the third time this year he has been so honored.

The Raiders head to Norman having never beaten the Sooners in three attempts. The last meeting was a 17-11 Oklahoma victory in Norman in 1994.

Tech's six wins guarantee the Raiders will see their fourth bowl game in four years, a school record. The Raiders played in the Hancock (Sun) Bowl in 1993, the 1995 Cotton Bowl (following the 1994 season) and the 1995 Copper Bowl.

The Raiders are playing for more than just pride, though. A Tech win coupled with a Texas A&M victory over Texas Nov. 29 would send the Raiders to St. Louis to play in the inaugural Big 12 title game.

"[Oklahoma] is a scary football team, they've got a lot of good athletes," said Dykes.

One aspect of the Oklahoma team will be very familiar to the Raiders. OU offensive coordinator Dick Winder spent several years as the head offensive guru at Tech before joining the Sooners. Dykes was not concerned, though, that Winder would affect the outcome of the game.

"We're playing Oklahoma, not Dick Winder," said Dykes.

Kickoff is scheduled for 2:30 p.m. The game will be regionally broadcast on ABC, the ninth time in 11 games the Raiders have appeared on television.

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