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."
Alabama coach Nick Saban took exception with the media's outlook on his team prior to Saturday's win at Georgia, lashing out at those that "buried" the Crimson Tide.
Despite a 1-4 start to the season and a 7-11 record since taking over at Texas, coach Charlie Strong has ongoing support from school officials and key boosters, according to several sources.
As much confidence as LSU coach Les Miles expresses in the abilities of his receivers, he has apparently decided to see if the threat of lost playing time sharpens their focus.
The frustrations of Texas Longhorns players spilled into the media and Twitter on Monday afternoon, raising concerns about whether coach Charlie Strong is dealing with a divided locker room.
Already dealing with depth issues at wide receiver, Ohio State has lost a second contributor at the position for the rest of the season.
Missouri quarterback Maty Mauk, who already missed Saturday's win over South Carolina, has been suspended from the team indefinitely, coach Gary Pinkel said Monday.