Throwback Game of the Week: Texas Tech vs Texas, 2008
It’s Tuesday, and that means it’s time for another Throwback Game of the Week. Last week, we opened the series with a game in which a legend was retired and a legend was born. This week, we’ve chosen a gem from 2008.
This game between the University of Texas and Texas Tech included arguably the greatest moment in Texas Tech football history, a load of NFL talent and a few false starts from the fan base.
Let’s just start by reminiscing about how great these two teams were. Texas Tech featured the duo of Michael Crabtree, who is still dominating in the NFL, and Graham Harrell, who had a lengthy career as a NFL backup. The Texas Tech roster also featured names like Baron Batch and Brandon Williams, who’s had limited NFL action. And Super Bowl champion Louis Vasquez was on the offensive line.
On the defensive side of the ball, the Red Raiders had future NFL draft picks Jamar Wall, Brandon Williams and Darcell McBath. Besides the NFL talent, you had guys like Bront Bird, Brandon Carter, Tramaine Swindall and current Offensive Coordinator Eric Morris on this 2008 squad.
As good as this 2008 Texas Tech team was on paper, it had nothing on Texas’ roster. From 2009 to 2011, the Longhorns had 14 players drafted to the NFL. Compare that to the Red Raiders’ six draft picks during that timeframe.
Those 14 draft picks include names like Colt McCoy, Henry Melton, Pro Bowlers Earl Thomas and Brian Orakpo, and Sam Acho. The Longhorns also had future NFL star kicker and undrafted FA Justin Tucker on the roster. I could go on, but the bottom line is that this Longhorns team was stacked, and the bulk of this roster would go on to compete for the National Championship the next season. (If only Colt McCoy hadn’t gotten hurt!)
At the time in 2008, the Texas Longhorns were number 1 in the AP, BCS and Coaches’ poll, while the Red Raiders were 6th, 7th and 5th respectively.
All that said, this was a game for the ages between two great teams.
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The game opens with Brent Musburger’s sultry voice saying, “let the scoring begin,” as Jamar Wall brought a Justin Tucker kick out from the endzone.
On the first play of the game, Musburger mutters, “The offensive line is split from Lubbock to Amarillo,” which is a great line about the Mike Leach offensive line splits in that era. I love Brent Musburger.
The Texas Tech opening drive would stall out, but after a great punt that pinned Texas at the two yard line, Colby Whitlock would penetrate and tackle the Longhorns running back in the endone for a safety, and the first points of the game.
2-0 Texas Tech.
Texas Tech would cap their next drive off with a field goal from Matt Williams, the guy who won a contest for free rent and got asked to walk on. Texas Tech would stretch the lead to 5-0. Side note: you can tell that The Dark Night had just come out the previous summer, because what seems like the entire student section has Heath Ledger-inspired Joker makeup on.
Texas Tech would then balloon the lead to 19 points after a 96-yard drive ending in a Baron Batch touchdown. An Eric Morris touchdown reception made the game 19-0.
With 10 minutes left in the 2nd quarter, Texas Tech seemed poised to blow out the Longhorns. But Colt McCoy and Jordan Shipley had other ideas.
After trading field goals, the halftime score would clock in at 22-6, with Texas Tech in the lead.
The 3rd quarter started with a stalled drive from both teams, but Texas Tech’s punt resulted in a 45-yard Shipley touchdown return. Texas Tech would answer with an interception return for a touchdown, making the score 29-13 with seven minutes to go in the 3rd quarter.
Colt McCoy would then engineer back-to-back touchdown drives with a failed two-point conversion to get the Longhorns within three points, 29-26. Texas Tech would stop the bleeding with a field goal to stretch the lead back out to six, 32-26, but all the momentum belonged to the Longhorns. The history, the all-time series totals, the expectations — it was all on the side of The Burnt Orange.
That would look to be true on the following drive, as Kirk Herbstreit would bellow, “This is Texas! This is Colt McCoy,” as the Longhorns had a methodical drive to take their first lead of the game, 33-32, on a four-yard touchdown run by Vondrell McGee. Colt McCoy was on his way to his seventh 4th quarter comeback victory.
With 1:29 left on the clock, one timeout, a graphic on the screen about how many times the Red Raiders had scored in under a minute and a half that season and Herbstreit saying this amount of time was like, 5 or 6 minutes to Mike Leach.
The scene was set.
Jamar Wall had a great kickoff return, taking it from the end zone to the Texas Tech 36 yard line.
After dinking and dunking down the field, and a near tip drill interception that fooled Musburger, Graham Harrell would set up for one last play with eight seconds left on the 28 yard line. Harrell would throw it wide to the right sideline to Michael Crabtree, who broke away from two would-be tacklers to score with :01 seconds left on the clock.
The fans would storm the field, be cleared off, storm again, be cleared off again. There was as much drama in the final second of this game as some games have in their entirety.
Following the two separate penalties on the Texas Tech crowd for premature storming, Texas Tech would squib the kickoff from the 8-yard line. After a few failed laterals and a fumble, the crowd would finally storm the field, penalty-free, and celebrate a long-awaited victory.
Following this game, Texas Tech would be ranked as high as 2nd in the nation before a fateful matchup in Norman, Oklahoma just a few weeks later.
The bottom line: As a college football fan, no matter what side of the fence you’re on, this was just a damn good game.
It also provided us with the one of the greatest Texas Tech bell ringers of all-time: