The Texas defense had forced the Cowboys field goal attempt on third-and-five from the 15 when defensive end Brian Orakpo put a fierce rush on OSU's excellent quarterback Zac Robinson. Robinson's swing pass to a wide-open-for-a-sure-touchdown Dantrell Savage was too high and fell incomplete. On similar plays throughout the game, Savage and teammates had gashed the Longhorns for 430 passing yards. The Horns' two-deep zone had been pillaged and plundered on the magnificent fall afternoon. Robinson had multiple receivers open most of the contest and particularly on third downs, but on the last one that could have been the clincher, Orakpo's body was all Robinson could see.
Some Texas fans left the stands with 8:40 remaining in the third quarter when OSU's big wide receiver Adarius Bowman made it look easy with a 28-yard touchdown catch to make it 35-14 in favor of the Cowboys. But no one in my section bolted. There was this feeling, almost a whisper – "We need one big play; there is still time."
My buddy Max Merrick from Louisiana and his son Cane kept saying "one big play" over and over. Perhaps that's what the Longhorns needed, a little Louisiana voodoo.
It happened at 7:30 left in the fourth quarter after Texas had cut the lead to 35-21. Oklahoma State had pinned Texas on its one with an excellent punt and coverage. Colt McCoy, who had 106 yards scrambling on the day, had bolted for a much needed first down away from the shadow of the goalposts. And after a pass completion got the ball to the 25 yard line, Max, Cane and thousands of Texas fans got their "one big play" wish as Jamaal Charles burst into the OSU secondary and out-ran everyone in bright orange jerseys 75 yards to make it 35-28 in a heartbeat.
The Longhorn defenders, who had missed as many tackles as they had done five weeks ago in Austin versus Kansas State, suddenly came to life. Derek Lokey, Rashad Bobino and Texas' smallest defender, Deon Beasley, began to make plays – stuffing Savage at the line of scrimmage, scraping off to make sure tackles and breaking up passes.
Texas got the ball back, again backed up inside the 10 following another beautiful exhibition of punting and coverage by the Cowboys. Although 91 yards away this time with the game clock and orange-clad fans working against them, all of us from row 1 to the Boone Pickens boxes in section R had confidence; Texas could do it.
The clock showed 3:45 left when Colt McCoy let the pass go deep down the OSU sideline where, racing out of the shadows, was Jordan Shipley behind the Cowboy left cornerback. Shipley caught the pass over his inside shoulder and stretched for the end zone, landing on the one yard line. Max, Cane, the woman in Colt's jersey, everyone in Burnt Orange loses it. High fives and hugs are going on in section R because we are looking directly down on this miracle in the making.
Two tries and the Horns remained at the one, but with 3:22 left Vondrell McGee followed Derek Lokey and the right side of the Longhorns line to, incredibly, tie it at 35-35.
So now, with only 1:13 left, the woman behind us is in tears. The Texas fans are on their own since the Longhorn Band is located 100 yards away in the opposite end zone facing nowhere so they can't be heard, and maybe even Boone Pickens is stomping on his western hat somewhere in those luxury suites!
A pass to Jermichael Finley got a much needed first down but Texas still is out of field goal range. The noise level rises to an all-time high in Stillwater, Oklahoma.
On third-and-11 and Texas running short of time, Colt took the shotgun snap from Buck Burnette, filling in along with Chris Hall for the injured center Dallas Griffin. With nobody open and OSU closing in, Max yelled, "Run, Colt, run," and Colt saw the same opening Max saw and sprinted down the left sideline for a first down just inside the 30 yard line.
Jamaal Charles got the next play and he gripped the ball with both hands as he ran into the middle, setting up a perfect field goal position. Mack Brown, halfway on the field, stopped the clock with two seconds left.
Ryan Bailey's 40-yard kick went through the goal posts just left of center and over the head of the OSU pep squad and band and into Texas tradition of never giving up, forever.
There is nothing like old fools, and Max and I know making these trips instead of staying home is worth it, enjoying the hugs and high fives like we were in the Texas gear on the field far below us. There are no more tears, Texas is 8-2 and Colt came through – again.
Texas Tech will pay a dear price in Austin because the Longhorns are in high gear to close this season. Texas 38, Texas Tech 17.
Pat Culpepper played for The University from 1960-62 and graduated from UT with a B.A. degree with honors in history. He coached college football for 12 years as an assistant at Texas, Colorado, Tulane, Baylor and Memphis State and was head coach at Northern Illinois from 1976-79. He also spent 16 years as a high school coach in Texas at Midland, Lufkin, Galveston Ball, Westfield and his hometown of Cleburne. He was selected to the Longhorn Hall of Honor in 1991. His commentary appears regularly in the Inside Texas magazine and at InsideTexas.com.