The battle between Texas Tech and Texas in 2008 had all the hype of a miniature Super Bowl. Media titans ESPN and ABC pulled out all the stops in publicizing it. And the actual game did anything but disappoint. Indeed, if anything, it actually surpassed its press.
RECAP: It was a typical Texas Tech-Texas shootout but with an atypical ending. The script is well known to Red Raider fans: Tech jumps out to a lead on the Longhorns, or at the very least goes toe-to-toe with them for four quarters, only to see the burnt orange team storm back in the fourth quarter to take the win, leaving the Red Raiders desolated in the process.
For all the world it looked like history would repeat itself for the umpteenth time as the Longhorns twice got off the deck after absorbing Red Raider Sunday punches, and ultimately took the lead on a four-yard Vondrell McGee touchdown run with 1:29 to play.
If that touchdown wasn't the clincher, surely Blake Gideon's interception of a Graham Harrell pass with eight seconds remaining would... but no! The ball slipped through the Longhorn safety's arms and hit the turf.
And given the chance at redemption, Harrell would not miss. With scant few seconds remaining and the ball on the Longhorn 28, Harrell dropped back to pass, and rather than toss a short out to assure good field goal position, amazingly, unbelievably, heaved a shot deep down the field and into double coverage where the one and only Michael Crabtree speared it, shrugged off a defender, and cruised into the end zone, setting off the wildest celebration in the history of Texas Tech football.
Nobody who was in Jones Stadium that night, whether they were wearing orange or black, will ever forget it.
STAR OF THE SHOW: The Red Raiders had a whole constellation of stars that shone brightly in this game, but the brightest of them all was the player who engineered the victory, quarterback Graham Harrell. He was lethally accurate, connecting on 36 of 53 passes for a walloping 474 yards and two touchdowns without an interception. And in true senior fashion, Harrell did not blow his stack or lose his cool on the final drive when the whole shootin' match was at stake. Harrell played like a champion on this night.
BIGGEST MOMENT: The Red Raider defense set the tone on Texas' very first play from scrimmage when tackle Colby Whitlock bulled through the Longhorn offensive line and slammed running back Chris Ogbannaya down in the end zone for a safety. From that moment it was clear that Texas Tech had come to play. Whether or not they would have the staying power was the only question.
PLAY OF THE GAME: The winning touchdown pass from Harrell to Crabtree was not only the play of the game, it may have been the play of the 21st century in college football. No fooling.
STAT OF THE GAME: 374. That is the number of total yards Ruffin McNeill's defense allowed the powerful Longhorn offense. Anytime the Red Raiders hold an opponent, and particularly Texas, under 400 yards, they should win the ballgame. Texas Tech's defense also sacked Longhorn quarterback Colt McCoy four times and battered him to a pulp in the process. The importance of the play of the Red Raider defensive line cannot be overestimated when one looks at this game.