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Thursday, October 26, 2006

Texas Football: The Texas Tech Game 

Week Nine: No. 5 Texas (7-1) at Texas Tech(5-3)
Last Week: Texas 22, Nebraska 20; Texas Tech 42, Iowa Stae 26
Last Meeting: 2005 -- Texas 52, Texas Tech 17
All-Time Series: Texas leads 41-14

Whew... I'll be the first to admit Texas was lucky to escape Lincoln with a win. At the same time Nebraska was lucky to get back in that game. Still, it turned out to be a great game between the Big XII's two best teams, and for anyone that doubts me, I defy you to travel to Memorial Stadium and afterward try to convince me that there i a better venue in the conference. There's not. So you can't.

I'll let Matt recap the Nebraska Game in this week's TWTWB

Uh oh.

We’ve talked about uh oh games before, where something seemingly magical happens during the course of a game and you begin to wonder if its destiny that this team is going to do something.

The ball going through Buckner’s legs. Vince Young running 80 yards against Oklahoma State last year or for 20 yards on 4th and 18 the year before. It was Derek Fisher beating the Spurs with a turnaround jumper propelling them to the NBA Finals, the Red Sox coming back from 3-0 down to win the ALCS and then the World Series. Tom Brady getting an improbable reversal of fortune on an obscure NFL rule.

Moments like this happen in sports and it’s not explainable in any other way but “uh oh.”

I sat there in the Nebraska Memorial Stadium stands last week. We had pretty much dominated all day, but Nebraska had used two trick plays to take the lead late in the ballgame, 20-19.

But we had a storybook team, right? One that came back multiple times last year, one that you knew was about to go win the national championship when we stopped USC on 4th and 2.

1st and 10. Running play. Not much. 2nd down. Colt McCoy goes back to pass, gets hit, fumbles. Adam Ulatoski jumps on the ball. 3rd down. McCoy bootlegs right, somehow avoids a sack, finds Jermichael Finley on the sideline, 1st down in Nebraska territory!!!

But Finley dropped it.

We looked at the red numbers on the Nebraska scoreboard, knowing that with the new clock rules and with Texas only holding two timeouts, it was all over if the Huskers got a first down, and even then was extremely unlikely to drive the length of the field in these conditions. The snow was falling like Christmas Eve in upstate New York, Nebraska fans were in a frenzy like I had never seen before, our offense was inconsistent at best all day. I sat down on the rented seat cushion and pulled my ski hat over my eyes and just wished at that moment that my legs would quit shivering, not knowing if it was due to the cold or the nerves.

I thought about the long, 13 hour drive back to Texas, knowing our season was over and a Big XII title game appearance not a given. I thought about how lucky we were last season to see what we did, and pulled up my ski hat and only got a reminder that it wasn’t last year as Vince Young stood on the sidelines not in stormtrooper white but with a black leather jacket and a Sean John hat on.

As play resumed after a TV timeout, Nebraska ran two running plays and got the ball to a 3rd and 3 in their own territory, with the play of the game about to happen. Stop them here and Texas still had a chance, how little it was, let them get the first down and the long drive back to Austin got longer.

Nebraska lined up, shifted like they always did into a multiple receiver set. Terrance Nunn in the right slot. Zac Taylor hiked the ball and went back in the pocket.

“Oh crap. Oh crap. Oh crap, they’re throwing,” went through my head.

Complete. First down. Game over.

Then it happened. Aaron Ross put his helmet on the ball. Nunn, who on subsequent viewings of the game I determined was hit much harder than that multiple times, fumbled.

Ball on the ground.

Marcus Griffin on top of it.

“Uh oh.”

2:17 left. Texas drove the field and in a Hollywood ending, a little known walk-on kicker named Ryan Bailey (“Who the f is Bailey?” was uttered many, many times in the stands) put the ball through the uprights and after a couple of heart-stopping hail marys, Texas got on the bus with a 22-20 win.

A lot has to happen. Some teams still need to lose one game, much less the two that we might need them to lose. Other teams don’t have much of a schedule left but still stand in our way. Who even knows if our computer rankings will improve enough to help us at all.

But I do know this. In 2004, nobody wanted to listen when I said that Texas was going to the granddaddy of them all, the Rose Bowl. Last year I was rooting for USC the entire season, much to the chagrin of many, because I knew that a Texas/USC Rose Bowl would be one for the ages.

This year?

It’s a little early for predictions. You’ll get that possibly next week when I do HornMafia’s Bowl Game Predictions. But there have been no big upsets in recent weeks. But you know they always happen. It’s statistically impossible for it not to happen. So they’re coming. Maybe in bunches.

Perhaps Michigan falls. Or Florida. Or USC. West Virginia.

When they do, enjoy it. This is what it’s all about. Just think back to that dark Nebraska afternoon, take a swig off your beer and think:

“Uh oh.”
This Week's Game in a Nutshell

I've worried about this game since April. Tech has talented WR's, and Texas has a defensive backfield that, to be honest, has a few holes. Nebraska found a way to put up several big plays -- game changing plays, of you will. So with Tech hosting the Horns in Lubbock, I have to assume that they'll manage to do the same, at least once or twice. They simply have too much talent on offense (outside of the QB position, anyway), and they no longer throw 1 scrubs on defense. Texas Tech is not going to a New Year's Day bowl this season. This is the their major bowl. This is the game they'd want to win most no mater what. They will come out fired up. Will it be enough?

Well remember that Colt McCoy and the Texas Longhorns just became the first team in who knows how long to win their their school's third consecutive game in Lincoln, NE. Texas battled the cold, the snow, a good team, and a great crowd, and found a way to pull it off. Texas Tech wants to win this game. Nebraska wanted to win just as badly, and they have a vastly superior team to the Red Raiders. As I said last week, Texas wins unless it beats itself.

The Greg Brown Memorial Pregame Premonition

Someone from the Texas defense slips in front of a Graham Harrell pass, and returns it to the house. My money is on Michael Griffin, who has to bounce back from an awful outing last weekend.

Personal Anecdote Involving This Week's Opponent

Worst road game I ever experienced came in Lubbock in 2002. Texas gave away the game (the only Horns loss to Tech since 1998), and the aftermath was surreal -- bizarre, even -- in its tension. Tech fans were ecstatic, drunk, and looking to start whatever they could. My buddy Wheeler literally had to break a beer bottle to back off a group of frat boys from assailing four girls that were with our group. I threw a pocketful of change at a suburan, at least the 20th car to honk at us and give either the fnger or the "Horns Down" as they drove by, and then walked into the street to call them out. They kept driving. I felt like a man. In retrospect it was all pretty stupid.

Semi-Relevant Quote from the Big Lebowski

"I don't like your jerk-off name. I don't like your jerk-off face. I don't like your jerk-off behavior, and I don't like you, jerk-off. Do I make myself clear?"

Yep. That pretty much sums up what I think about Lubbock, TX, and Texas Tech University, in general. But then again they aren't the Aggies or Sooners, so they do have that going for them.

Deluded/Rational Thoughts from an Opposing Message Board

Red Raider fan "jaydavis" would like to "Bitchslap" Mathew McConaghy.

Does this "Super ut fan" but the heck out of you as much as he bugs me? Would love to see somebody just punch his lights out..............

I get so tired of seeing him on the sidelines during a ut game.
You know, I realize that not even all Texas fans like Matt M hanging out on the sidelines and acting as the de faco celebrity voice of Texas athletics, but I don't care. I like him. I think he's funny. And I think it's lame that a Texas Tech fan would complain, because the next even pseudo-celebrity from outside of West Teas to publically acknowledge Red Raider athletics will be the first.

And by the way, y'alls bar district sucks ass. But I am happy to see Tech continued their string of making A&M their bitch.

Random Texas-Nebraska highlight that has little to do with this game, but was sweet nonetheless

"Dammmmmmnnnnnn... you go knocked the F--- OUT!!!"

Prediction: Texas 38, Texas Tech 17



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