Everything really is bigger in Texas. Both schools were unbeaten. For Texas Tech it was the furthest into a season they had been unbeaten in school history. For Texas, the though of a second national championship in four years was on their mind. ESPN’s College Gameday made its first trip to Lubbock for the showdown between the two undefeated in-state rivals.
For Raider fans, this game was a long time coming. Mike Leach, head coach at Tech, had built this program from scratch. It took him less than a decade, and the Red Raiders were already in the thick of the Big 12 South race, along with powerhouses Oklahoma, and the mighty Longhorns.
The stage was set for an epic showdown, but quarterback Graham Harrell and the rest of the Tech offense seemed to have put an end to that chance quickly. The Red Raiders took control early, leading 22-6 at halftime over the top-ranked Longhorns.
Halfway through the third quarter, Texas quarterback Colt McCoy was intercepted by Daniel Charbonnet, who returned the ball 18 yards for a touchdown. That made the score 29-13 in favor of Tech.
Finally, the Heisman Trophy candidate McCoy regrouped the Longhorn offense and staged a comeback. Trailing 32-26 with less than three minutes to go, McCoy drove Texas down the field en route to a Vontrell McGee touchdown run.
With the entire town of Lubbock in a state of shock, Graham Harrell trotted out onto the field with an opportunity to salvage the Red Raiders’ upset bid. He had 1:30 to get Tech within field goal range, which was more than enough time for coach Leach’s nitro-powered offense.
Harrell drove his troops 62 yards in six plays, with the final play of the game proving to be the most memorable in program history. Needing only about ten yards on fourth down to make it into field goal range, Harrell launched a pass to all-everything receiver Michael Crabtree, who caught the ball along the sideline around the five-yard line, then wrestled away from Texas defender Curtis Brown and stepped into the end zone as time expired.
It was one of the most miraculous, stunning plays college football has ever seen. Combining that final moment with the environment of the stadium, the state, and the significance of the game on the national championship race, makes for one of the best games in recent memory.