STILLWATER, Okla. -- Texas quarterback Colt McCoy trotted on the field with 2:18 left in the second quarter as a record crowd at Boone Pickens Stadium cheered, sensing Oklahoma State's chance to grab momentum by Bevo's horns.
The Cowboys had just marched 84 yards in eight plays to cut the deficit to 17-7 and the 58,516 wanted a quick stop and another opportunity to score before the half. It was a chance, maybe, to scare the Longhorns on Halloween night.
But McCoy wouldn't allow it. He calmly and accurately led his team on a nearly perfect two-minute, 80-yard drive that ended in a touchdown with nine seconds left to put Texas back up by 17. The Longhorns scored to open the third quarter and coasted to a 41-14 victory over the biggest remaining hurdle on the schedule.
McCoy's numbers weren't gaudy enough to send anyone scurrying to find a record book. Why would they be? When you have a defense that can score points in bunches like Texas, you don't need a flashy offense or a quarterback that takes too many chances. But McCoy's leadership and steady play -- for the first time this season he didn't throw an interception -- should earn him some consideration from those with a Heisman Trophy ballot.
"Colt is playing as good as anybody in the country," Texas coach Mack Brown said. "He moved the ball with his feet. He played with a great head. He was very accurate."
The best evidence McCoy can provide is that final drive at the end of the first half. Texas offensive coordinator Greg Davis said there were no thoughts of playing conservative and taking a 10-point lead into the half, even though Texas got the ball first in the second half.
"There was no doubt in our minds that we were going to go for it," Davis said. "With two minutes and two timeouts, in college football that's an eternity."
McCoy was a master timekeeper. He directed the offense with precision, completing tough passes, converting two long third downs and finding Malcolm Williams in the back of the end zone for a score that deflated the costume-clad crowd.
On third-and 6 from the Texas 24-yard line, McCoy rolled to his right and patiently waited for something to open up. John Chiles came back toward the quarterback on the sidelines and McCoy found him for 16 yards. Moments later, on third-and-8 from the OSU 40, McCoy couldn't find any open receivers, tucked the ball and eluded a few defenders on his way to a 19-yard gain that ended with a picture-perfect slide at the OSU 21-yard line. Three plays later, McCoy hit Williams for an 11-yard touchdown. Williams made a sensational grab, leaping to retrieve the ball and at the same time making sure he got one foot inbounds.
"They brought a blitz, the offensive line protected me, I think I threw it off my back foot," said McCoy, whose first read, Jordan Shipley, was covered. "I had Malcolm with no safety in the middle and he made a great catch."
McCoy accounted for all the yards on the drive -- 47 passing and 23 rushing (the Longhorns also got 10 yards on an OSU penalty).
The drive was McCoy's key moment in an otherwise solid game. The offense scored on four of its first five possessions and McCoy finished 16-for-21 with 171 passing yards and a touchdown. He also led the Longhorns in rushing with 48 yards on 11 carries.
McCoy doesn't want to talk about the Heisman. But he has another month to build his résumé and his numbers. And he can let everyone else talk for him.
"I'm just worried about team goals," McCoy said.
Texas took a major step toward those on Saturday, earning the inside track to the Big 12 South title. In fact, the team doesn't even have to leave the state of Texas to earn a trip to the national title game. Win out and Texas goes to Pasadena, site of its last championship. And if the Longhorns do that, McCoy could have a chance to do what no other Texas quarterback has: win a Heisman Trophy and a national championship.