Game of the Week Episode 3: Texas Tech’s Epic 2008 Win Over Texas

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For week 3 of the Big 12 Bullets Game of the Week Series presented by Revtown we’re talking about one of the most epic, consequential, and memorable games in the history of the conference: Texas Tech’s last-second win over No. 1 Texas in 2008.

And I’m delighted to say our guest for the podcast is current USC Offensive Coordinator Graham Harrell who was the quarterback for Texas Tech in this game. Harrell is one of the hottest names in college coaching and will likely be a head coach somewhere soon so I was really excited to get to speak with him for the podcast. He was really insightful and you can understand why he’s such a sought-after coach.

And for this week’s Key Play Breakdown video, we could talk about the most iconic play in the history of the Big 12…but you’ve seen that one plenty of times. We’re talking about the play that happened during that one second left on the clock.

Now, onto the game!

  • Date: November 1, 2008
  • Location: Jones AT&T Stadium
  • Records: Texas 8-0, Texas Tech 8-0
  • Rankings: #1 Texas, #7 Texas Tech
  • Final Score: 39-33 Texas Tech
  • This is everything that makes college football great
  • Two historic rivals who first played each other in 1928
  • One team a national power
  • The other team an upstart with its best team ever
  • Two Heisman-trophy candidate quarterbacks
  • Obscene talent for both teams
  • Texas had Colt McCoy, Jordan Shipley, Quan Cosby, Earl Thomas, Brian Orakpo, and more
  • Tech had Graham Harrell, Michael Crabtree, Daniel Charbonnet, and an offensive line that averaged 6’6″ 339 lbs
  • And two legendary coaches: Mack Brown vs Mike Leach
  • College Gameday was in Lubbock for the first time
  • The Tech fans were in a frenzy before the game even started
  • But Tech started a little slow
  • Crabtree got hurt on the third play of the game
  • Will Muschamp’s Texas Defense stopped Tech on the first drive
  • And then the importance of a punter came into play
  • The punt went down to the one-yard line
  • Tech’s defense, by far their weak point, forced a safety on the very next play
  • Jones AT&T stadium exploded
  • Texas was on their heels for the next three quarters
  • Tech was up 12-0 after the first quarter and eventually got out to a 19-0 lead
  • This wasn’t looking like a classic, this was looking like a blowout
  • But Crabtree fumbled and Texas got a field goal out of it
  • Instead of being Crabtree’s greatest game ever, so far he’s been injured and fumbled
  • Texas Tech’s kicker was a guy who won a kicking contest a few weeks prior because Tech had such a bad kicking situation
  • He won a year’s free rent by hitting a 30-yard field goal
  • Remember that for later
  • Tech’s defense was clearly out to prove a point this game, they were physically dominating Texas
  • It’s 22-6 at half
  • In the third quarter the game turned around
  • Remember what I said about the punting game?
  • That’s Jordan Shipley, who, if you forgot, was a baller
  • Then the Tech defense stepped up again with a pick 6 by Charbonnet
  • That should have been the nail in the coffin
  • But then Colt McCoy got to work
  • Malcolm Williams scored Texas’ first offensive TD with 12 seconds left in the third quarter
  • Tech then had a field goal blocked and the very next play Texas did this
  • That’s 91 yards!
  • It’s now 29-26
  • Tech would put in their backup kicker to get a field goal to go up 32-26 with three minutes left
  • Now, normally on these I don’t give you so much of a play-by-play, but I think the context is so important for the final three minutes
  • Colt McCoy leads Texas on a methodical TD drive to take their first lead of the game with 1:29 left
  • In hindsight, they scored too quickly, but Texas had a good defense and Tech only had one timeout
  • They also had no kicker
  • So, this very easily could have, and should have, been a win for Texas
  • But Graham Harrell got to work orchestrating the game-winning drive
  • With 16 seconds left Tech has the ball on the Texas 27-yard line
  • Without a reliable kicker, this is still way too far away to even think about kicking
  • Tech still has the one timeout
  • And then the most consequential dropped interception in the history of the conference happened
  • Blake Gideon was a freshman who would go on to start 52 consecutive games, the second most in the history of Texas Longhorn football
  • But this is still the moment he’s remembered for
  • Because the very next play was the most iconic play in Big 12 history
  • Why was Michael Crabtree was single-covered?
  • Why did Earl Thomas (a surefire NFL Hall of Famer) run below Crabtree instead of above him?
  • How did Crabtree shrug off a defender and stay inbounds?
  • Why didn’t Crabtree go out of bounds on purpose to save the clock and set up the game-winning field goal?
  • These are all questions that likely haunt Texas fans to this day
  • There was, however, still one second left
  • To see what happened on that last play check out this week’s Key Play Breakdown
  • Why was this game so significant?
  • Well Texas Tech would go on to dominate #8 Oklahoma State 56-20 the next week
  • But then after a bye week they got hammered by Oklahoma 65-21, ending their chance at a Big 12 or a national title
  • But this had greater significance for Texas and Colt McCoy
  • Texas had beat Oklahoma 45-35 earlier in the season
  • But Oklahoma’s dominating win over Texas Tech placed them higher in the BCS and OU would go on the Big 12 title and the national championship game
  • Sam Bradford won the Heisman, McCoy finished second, Harrell finished fourth, and Crabtree fifth
  • If there had been a College Football Playoff, the Big 12 certainly would have had two teams in it in 2008
  • Which, these days, it’s almost hilarious to think about
  • Texas’ only loss was on the road to a top 10 team on a last second play
  • And they didn’t even win their division
  • Texas won the Fiesta Bowl over Ohio State
  • Tech lost the Cotton Bowl to Ole Miss
  • Oh and Oklahoma lost in the BCS National Championship Game to Florida
  • The next season Texas would make the BCS National Championship Game where McCoy would get hurt and they’d lose to Alabama 37-21
  • No Big 12 team has made the national championship since
  • Don’t forget to listen to the podcast with Graham Harrell
  • Continuing my strange trend of sucking in fans from a school and then crushing their spirits the next week with a devastating loss…
  • We’re talking about the Oklahoma victory over Texas Tech next week
  • And, let me say, the guest we have is huge
  • Get ready to Jump Around

Buy a copy of my book to help you get over your fear that there may not be a college football season in 2020 (jk there totally will (idk maybe not (please I hope there is (stay safe out there everyone))))!

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