The Texas Tech Red Raiders were well and truly set up for an upset at the hands of the Baylor Bears on the last week of the regular season. Tech had just had their perfect season blown to smithereens in Norman, Oklahoma the previous week and the prospect of playing traditional doormat Baylor frankly excited nobody.
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But the Bears were plenty excited and came very close miring the Red Raiders in a two-game losing streak. Thanks to the heroism of Graham Harrell, however, who made do without Michael Crabtree for over half the game, Tech avoided a humiliating and damaging loss.
RECAP: For 7/8 of the contest, this looked like the game Texas Tech should not lose but would. Prior to the 2008 season it was an item of faith among many that the Red Raiders, inevitably, would drop a game they had no business losing. And the Baylor Bears did everything in their power to make that dire prediction come true.
Baylor jumped on top of the Red Raiders early via a 13-yard rushing touchdown by Robert Griffin with seven seconds remaining in the opening quarter to make the score 13-7 (the PAT was no good). The Bears then took a 21-14 lead into the halftime locker room thanks to short touchdown reception by Earnest Smith and a two-point conversion with 0:01 to play in the second quarter.
Matters went from gloomy to dismal for Tech as Baylor clicked off yet another touchdown on their first drive of the second half to take a 28-14 lead on the number seven-ranked Red Raiders.
But the buck stopped there.
Quarterback Graham Harrell rallied the Red Raiders for three touchdowns in the final 21 minutes of play and the Tech defense clamped down on the Bears, not allowing another point. The winning score was a Harrell-to-Detron Lewis touchdown pass of four yards with 6:14 to play.
The Red Raiders, unlike many a Tech team in the past, dodged the terminal bullet.
STAR OF THE SHOW: Graham Harrell got the job done during the final home appearance of his storybook career. Harrell completed 41 of 50 passes for 309 yards and two touchdowns with one interception. Most important, he displayed the poise and maturity necessary to pull Tech's fat from the fire. The Graham Harrell of his sophomore season would not have been able to lead the Red Raiders to victory in this situation.
BIGGEST MOMENT: Yes, the Red Raiders finally took a lead on the Bears deep in the fourth quarter, but there was still plenty of time to play. Six minutes and eight seconds, to be specific. And the Bears, who had already singed Tech's defense for four touchdowns, set out to do it yet again.
The visitors from Waco managed to get the ball to midfield with three minutes to play where they faced a fourth-and-five situation. Quarterback Griffin dropped back to pass but was sacked by McKinner Dixon, ending Baylor's upset bid once and for all.
PLAY OF THE GAME: Harrell's winning touchdown to Lewis was obviously a colossal play, but it wouldn't have come to pass - so to speak - had not Tech linebacker Brian Duncan picked off Griffin at the Baylor 40-yardline with 9:32 remaining on the clock. Duncan and the Red Raider defense came up large when the game was on the line.
STAT OF THE GAME: 229/56. The Bears rushed for 229 yards and held the Red Raiders to only 56 rushing yards. When the opposition quadruples you in yards on the ground, you are almost certain to lose. That the Red Raiders did not drop this contest despite the disparity in ground yardage was a not so minor miracle.