November 02, 2008
Texas Tech 39, Texas 33. Yes: Cap'n Mike Leach is awesome. Graham Harrell is awesome. Michael Crabtree is most awesome of all. How many other receivers would you ever, ever throw to in double coverage with less than ten seconds on the clock, in field goal range, when a kick wins the game? The winning touchdown on the sideline was thrilling and cements Crabtree as the best receiver in the country, and Texas Tech as a team to be reckoned with and a contender and all of that, etc.
But Texas, my god Texas, how do you not intercept the ball to win the game on the previous play when it's floating like a gift from heaven into your hands? Deflecting off a Tech receiver, with a few seconds to go, that's the game. With the Raiders already in range of the winning field goal, that deflection is the win. That's life itself, suspended in the air. That's the national championship hanging up there like the world's easiest apple to pluck off the limb. And Blake Gideon dropped it. He let it hit the ground. And Harrell to Crabtree buries the Horns one play later.
I can't imagine how sick I'd be if I was a Texas fan at that moment. As far as sports go, this is like a Greek tragedy, especially because -- unlike the Raiders -- the gauntlet was behind them. The path to the Big 12 title and the mythical championship was clear; they were literally seconds, inches away from a fourth straight win over top-12 team. To play the first half in a confused fog, get knocked around the field, and still manage to fight your way back into the game to take a lead with a minute and a half to go, that's epic, championship stuff. Colt McCoy was a legend forever for the comeback and game-winning drive in the middle of a hostile desert mad house. People were painting images of him and preparing brands to put his face on their cows.
But Texas literally let the game fall through its fingers. And Graham Harrell and Michael Crabtree are too good to drop the win.
So welcome to the club, Cap'n. Yer ship is a sturdy vessel indeed, if unorthodox and occasionally unruly. Tech survived a classic, about which more in the a.m. Ridiculous, awful, surprising, gut-wrenching and thrilling business. That's the kind of beautiful game a coming-out party deserves.