On Saturday night, Oklahoma found out what that felt like.
Oklahoma quarterback Sam Bradford was knocked out of the game against Texas Tech with an apparent concussion after making a tackle in the first quarter. Bradford didn't return and the Sooners' national title hopes went with him.
Texas Tech continued the season of upsets by taking out No. 4 Oklahoma 34-27.
The loss dropped Oklahoma (9-2, 5-2 Big 12) into a first-place tie with Tech in the Big 12 South standings. However, the Sooners can clinch a spot in the Big 12 championship game with a win at home next week against Oklahoma State.
In other words, the national title dream is gone, but championships can still be won.
But how short-handed will the Sooners be?
Bradford's injury in the game was just one of several suffered by the Sooners.
Running back DeMarco Murray's "knee cap shifted," late in the game, according to Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops. Wideout Adron Tennell suffered a torn anterior cruciate ligament and defensive end Alan Davis also suffered a concussion.
Tennell is obviously done for the season. The others – including Bradford and Murray – are question marks.
Bradford's exit opened the door for backup Joey Halzle, who had only attempted nine passes coming into the game.
After a slow start, Halzle settled down to complete 21-of-41 passes for 291 yards, two touchdowns and an interception, but the offense never truly got untracked.
The Sooners (9-2, 5-2 in Big 12) came in averaging nearly 45 points 195 yards on the ground. The offense scored twice and produced 106 rushing yards.
Of course, Oklahoma was forced to go to the air for much of the second half after falling behind 27-7 in the second quarter.
"In the first half, I thought we really played foolishly and poorly in a lot of areas," Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops said.
With the offense not able to get going, the defense was left on the field much of the first half. Big plays for Tech eventually ensued.
Harrell completed 47 of his career-high 72 attempts for 420 yards and a pair of scores. Crabtree caught 12 of those passes for 154 yards and a touchdown.
Harrell also scored a one-yard rushing touchdown, which was set up by a 60-yard pass to Crabtree.
Lendy Holmes put the Sooners on the board first when he picked off Harrell on Tech's first possession and returned it 67 yards for a touchdown.
The Sooners' good fortunes stopped there.
After forcing a three-and-out against Tech, the Sooners turned it over on their first play from scrimmage when Bradford and Allen Patrick bobbled an exchange. Bradford got up slowly after making the tackle on the ensuing fumble recovery and didn't return to the game.
The Red Raiders then scored 27 straight points and took a 27-10 halftime lead.
"I felt we kind of played one-handed in the first half, meaning that our offense wasn't doing anything," Stoops said. "When you continue to give them all that possession time or all of those opportunities, you can't do that with Tech the way they move the ball."
Aaron Crawford put Tech up 34-10 with a third-quarter touchdown run.
Finally, Halzle began to settle in and the Sooners made up some of the ground.
Garrett Hartley kicked a 33-yard field goal at 7:05 of the third quarter, capping a 44-yard drive.
In the fourth, Halzle connected with Manuel Johnson for TD passes of 65 and nine yards.
"For the really limited time that he has had, he stepped up for the most part, really hung in there and fought to the end," Stoops said of Halzle. "I'm sure there's some plays there that he'll see that he can be better at, but for the time he's had through 10 games, I thought he stepped up and did some decent things."
Halzle said the improved second-half play was a matter of finding a rhythm.
"You just get settled in and get into a rhythm, start seeing the defense slow a little bit, and try to make bigger plays down the field," he said.
The second TD pass to Johnson came with 31 seconds remaining, cutting the Red Raiders' lead to a touchdown. Tech, however, put an end to Oklahoma's comeback hopes by recovering the ensuing onside kick.
"I appreciate everybody's effort in the second half," Stoops said. "We fought to the end and there's character there, and they went all the way through."
Sooners Illustrated Offensive Player of the Game: Quarterback Joey Halzle. Yes, he got off to a slow start, but that often times happens when a backup is thrust into the game. Halzle did manage to settle down, however, and nearly led OU to an improbably comeback. He finished 21-of-41 for 291 yards and two touchdowns.
Sooners Illustrated Defensive Player of the Game: Linebacker Curtis Lofton. There aren't easy awards to hand out when you give up so many yards and points, but Lofton continued his All-America type season. The junior recorded a team-high 12 tackles, had one tackle for a loss and an interception. Lendy Holmes was a close second with eight tackles and the interception returned for a touchdown, but the Sooner secondary was torched for much of the night.