Back and forth, back and forth. It was a see-saw-like finish on Saturday night, when the Texas Tech Red Raiders outlasted the Texas Longhorns in an instant classic.
There was a comeback, a controversial call, fans all over the field and a finish which I believe may already be airing on ESPN Classic.
Early, the match was all Raiders, with them getting on the board every way they could: a safety, a field goal and a major. Their defence held the Longhorns offense to just three yards after the first quarter and held them to only two field goals at the half – but the game quickly turned into a Graham Harrell/Colt McCoy duel, the kind football doesn’t see nearly enough of.
Down 22-6 at the half, Longhorns quarterback Colt McCoy led his team to a near improbable comeback, driving down the field with seeming ease: 58 yards in two and a half minutes; 91 yards in 14 seconds; 80 yards in just over four minutes. McCoy was airing the ball with ease, making huge plays and spreading the Raiders defence thin. He would finish the night with two touchdowns and almost 300 yards passing, the majority of them in the second half.
That 91-yard touchdown seemed to send a message: Texas was still in this game, and the Raiders pounded back in response. They moved to the Texas 12, where a touchdown would have sealed the win. But after a 15-yard penalty and three straight incompletions later, they settled for a field goal. 32 – 26, for Tech.
So the Longhorns were still in the game, then. McCoy passed and ran them all the way down to the Texas five-yard line, where Foswhitt Whittaker ran in the go-ahead major: 23-22 Texas, with just 1:29 left. Then Harrell took the Raiders on his back.
Four straight passes led the Raiders to the Texas 28. Game over, right? After all, they needed just a field goal, something they had been hitting all game. Simple, no risk involved. But on Harrell’s next pass, the ball took a funny deflection – one that was almost picked off by Texas. A lucky break for the Raiders.
Harrell followed it with a pass to his right, to Michael Crabtree along the sidelines, who ran it in for a touchdown with only a second to play. Fans come pouring onto the field from all over, crowding the players and forcing the goalposts to get lowered. All the while, the replay booth is checking the catch: did Crabtree step out of bounds?
As it turned out, he didn’t, the extra point was good and the field had to be cleared again. One second left… Well, stranger things have happened. But not tonight: the kickoff was lateralled, then fumbled and Tech came up with it and the win.
Brent Musburger, one who has been prone to hyperbole, called the finish unbelievable. Indeed, it was one of the better – the best, even – finishes so far this season.
Plus, it was both a huge upset and a huge night for the Raiders. Just look at the numbers: 579 total yards, with McCoy throwing 474 of them. Two recievers with over 125 yards reciving. Nearly 37 minutes of possession. 32 first downs. One turnover. One hell of a finish.
And a win over the number one ranked team in the country.