By Wendell Barnhouse | firstname.lastname@example.org
If the 2008 season was the greatest so far in Big 12 history, it started to tilt toward tremendous on the fulcrum of Texas Tech's scintillating 39-33 victory over Texas.
If you've been following the countdown, the best game of 2008 was an obvious choice. The media voters who selected the top 10 games were unanimous in their selection of the No. 1 game.
There's little to argue with the voters' decision. The Nov. 1 game in Lubbock had a buzz that reverberated through West Texas. An ABC prime-time national television audience plus a raucous Red Raiders crowd watched a game of mood swings that was decided on the signature play of the '08 season.
Senior quarterback Graham Harrell's 28-yard touchdown pass to sophomore wide receiver Michael Crabtree with one second remaining gave Texas Tech its stunning upset of top-ranked Texas. The Longhorns were playing their fourth consecutive game against a highly ranked opponent; the first game, UT's 45-35 defeat of No. 1 Oklahoma, had put Texas atop the polls.
Making the kinds of mistakes that they had avoided in defeating OU, Missouri and Oklahoma State, the Longhorns found themselves trailing 19-0 with 9:39 remaining in the first half.
"They played harder than us," Texas quarterback Colt McCoy said. "The crowd was behind them the whole game. They never quit. They kept fighting."
So did Texas. After getting untracked, UT was able to close within 22-13 early in the third quarter. When Texas Tech defensive back Daniel Charbonnet returned McCoy's only interception for a touchdown and a 29-13 lead with 7:33 remaining in the third quarter, it appeared the Red Raiders had stemmed the tide.
McCoy answered with three fouth quarter TD drives. The first two were capped with touchdown passes; the third on Vondrell McGee's 4-yard run with 1:29 remaining that gave Texas a 33-32 lead and set up the drama that turned Lubbock loony.
"Play 60 minutes," Texas Tech coach Mike Leach said. "You may have a second to spare."
Thanks to Jamar Wall's 38-yard kickoff return, the Red Raiders' final drive started at their own 38. Harrell completed four consecutive passes to move Texas Tech to the Texas 28.
Harrell's fifth attempt - a quick flip to Edward Britton to avoid Texas' pass rush - could have ended the game with the Longhorns' celebrated. The ball bounced in the air off Britton's hands and UT freshman safety Blake Gideon had a chance for the interception. The ball slipped through his hands and left time for one more play.
"It's unbelievable," Texas coach Mack Brown said. "We got our hands on the ball to win the game the play before they win it and we drop it."
Harrell and Crabtree made the most of the second chance.
"I saw that they were man-to-man on 'Crab,'" said Harrell, who completed 36-of-53 passes for 474 yards. "I threw it behind him, something we've practiced thousands of times. He made the adjustment and made the play."
Crabtree caught the pass along the right sideline at the 6-yard line. He avoided two Texas defenders, stayed inbounds and went into the end zone untouched with one second remaining. Had he been tackled before scoring, it's doubtful Texas Tech could have called its final timeout.
"On the sideline, I kind of dreamed that I would catch a pass and go in the end zone for a game-winning score," Crabtree said. "I do that, like every game, but it happened. It kind of shocked me."