LUBBOCK, Texas -- It was as risky a pass as Graham Harrell has ever thrown. Also the most important.
With the final seconds ticking off and Texas Tech trailing by a point, the Texas Tech quarterback saw Michael Crabtree in double coverage and let if fly. The All-American wide receiver snagged it on the sideline, shook off a defender and ducked into the end zone with one second left.
With that stunning 28-yard touchdown, the No. 7 Red Raiders turned near-heartbreak into a wild victory, 39-33 against No. 1 Texas.
Texas Tech showed its tops in the Lone Star State -- and maybe even the best team in the land.
"Play 60 minutes," Texas Tech coach Mike Leach said. "You may have a second to spare."
That's what it came down in a West Texas-style shootout that had the Longhorns (8-1, 4-1 Big 12) rally from a 19-0 deficit in the first half and from 29-13 in the third quarter to take a 33-32 lead with Vondrell McGee's 4-yard TD run with 1:29 to play.
The problem was, Texas left Harrell too much time.
Harrell drove the Red Raiders (9-0, 5-0) 62 yards to the touchdown in six plays, slinging the long pass to Crabtree, who broke the tackle of Curtis Brown, kept his balance, stayed in bounds and scooted the last few yards for a score.
Tech really just needed about 10 yards to set up a field goal for Donnie Carona, who had been benched earlier this season but kicked a 42-yard in the fourth quarter. But Harrell took a big chance with the big throw.
If Crabtree had been tackled instead of getting in, Texas Tech might have had a hard time calling its last time out to set up a short field goal before time expired.
"On the sideline, I kind of dreamed that I would catch a pass and go in the end zone for a game-winning score. I do that, like every game, but it happened. It kind of shocked me," Crabtree said.
"All we needed was a field goal, but a touchdown's even sweeter," Harrell said. "If you're a quarterback and don't want to be in that situation, you should probably change positions."
Thousands of Texas Tech fans poured onto the field and had to be sent off while the play was under review to make sure Crabtree didn't step out of bounds. Once the fans were chased off the field and Tech kicked the extra point, the Red Raiders were penalized and forced to kick off from their own 7.
When Texas couldn't pull of a miracle kickoff return, the fans ran back on the field to celebrate the biggest win in Texas Tech history. The victory not only gave the Red Raiders command of the Big 12 South, it puts them smack in the chase for the national title, quite a leap for a program usually left behind by conference powers Texas and Oklahoma.
In fact, maybe Texas Tech shoots to the top of the rankings and the BCS standings? More likely, Alabama moves to No. 1. The question is whether the Red Raiders, on the strength of their first victory against a No. 1 team, can jump over the likes of Florida, Southern California and unbeaten Penn State on Sunday.
Just like Texas over the last month, the Red Raiders also face a daunting schedule the next three weeks. Texas Tech hosts No. 9 Oklahoma State next weekend, then has a bye week before traveling to No. 4 Oklahoma. They finish the regular season at home against Baylor.
"Now the biggest game in history is Oklahoma State," Leach said, "or the history of this year, anyway."
Harrell, who may have jumped ahead of Texas quarterback Colt McCoy in the Heisman Trophy race, finished with 474 yards passing and two touchdowns on 36-of-53 passing.
"Some of you guys maybe ought to add him to your Heisman list," Leach told reporters after the game. "I know how political it is."
McCoy has nothing to be ashamed of, throwing for 294 yards and two touchdowns and nearly leading his 10th career comeback in game where he was sacked four times and had his face bloodied on a hard hit in the third quarter. He did have an interception returned for a touchdown in the third.
"They played harder than us," McCoy said. "The crowd was behind them the whole game. They never quit. They kept fighting."
Texas had just appeared to pull off a stunning rally behind McCoy, who threw second-half touchdown passes of 37 and 91 yards to Malcolm Williams and led Texas on a grinding drive to its final touchdown after Texas Tech's Carona kicked a field goal for a six-point lead.
McGee's burst stunned the home crowd until a big kickoff return by Jamar Wall gave the Red Raiders the ball at their own 38 and time to move. Harrell hit on four straight passes, to get the ball in Texas territory. He also got a break when Texas freshman safety Blake Gideon dropped what would have been a game-ending interception on a tipped ball.
"I was sick, I was thinking, 'Surely, we're not going to lose like this," Harrell said.
Given another chance, he and Crabtree came through.
"It's the biggest catch I ever made," said Crabtree, who had 10 catches for 127 yards.
Given the chance to make a national statement, Texas Tech looked early like it would dismiss the Longhorns in a rout. The Red Raiders belted Texas on the Longhorns' on first play and kept hammering away for the entire first half.
Backed up on the Texas 2 in front of the raucous student section, McCoy handed off to Chris Ogbonnaya, who never got out of the end zone when he was dropped for a safety by defensive tackle Colby Whitlock.
The Red Raiders were just getting started.
Texas Tech made it 19-0 when Harrell found Eric Morris with a soft throw just beyond a defender's reach for an 18-yard TD and the Red Raiders led 22-6 at halftime.
Matt Williams, the kicker Leach plucked from the stands after watching him win a promotional kicking contest six weeks ago, made field goals of 29 and 31 yards. He was pulled for Carona in the second half after he had a field goal blocked.
Jordan Shipley gave Texas life with a 45-yard punt return for a touchdown in the third quarter.
Still, Texas appeared done when Daniel Charbonnet returned McCoy's only interception for a touchdown and a 29-13 Texas Tech lead.
But McCoy, who has led nine come-from-behind wins in his career, had the Longhorns storming back and in position to win.
"Football is a tough game," Texas coach Mack Brown said. "Tonight was their night, we need to be classy in defeat and give them credit for what they did."
Oklahoma pausing practice after opener vs. Missouri State moved to September
Oklahoma coach Lincoln Riley announced Saturday that the Sooners are pausing practice for a week as a result of their Aug. 29 season opener vs. Missouri State being moved to September.
Notre Dame adds ESPN 300 offensive lineman Rocco Spindler
Notre Dame added offensive lineman Rocco Spindler on Saturday, giving the Fighting Irish eight ESPN 300 commitments.
College players opting out of the 2020 fall football season
With the coronavirus pandemic ongoing and the numbers continuing to rise in the United States, some college players have decided to opt out of the 2020 fall football season. This list is a collection of those athletes.
Colorado State players refute allegations of intimidation, racism by coach Steve Addazio, staff
A group of Colorado State players released a statement on Saturday on behalf of the football team that disputes the accusations against head coach Steve Addazio and his coaching staff as the school investigates intimidation and racism allegations.
After night of college football normalcy, MAC decision brings us back to reality
The glimmer of football normalcy that came with recent schedule releases and trash talk quickly evaporated when the MAC pushed its season to spring 2021. But Ryan McGee, for one, believes that hope for normalcy, on and off the field, won't ever go away.
Pitt's Jaylen Twyman opts out of 2020 college season to focus on NFL draft
Pitt's Jaylen Twyman, who had 10.5 sacks last season and is the No. 5 defensive tackle in ESPN's positional rankings for the NFL draft, has decided to opt out of the 2020 college season to focus on the NFL draft.