Ten years ago, Texas went on the road to Lubbock ranked No. 1 in the nation to take on a top-10 opponent in Texas Tech. In the final seconds of a back-and-forth affair, Texas Tech stunned the Longhorns when Michael Crabtree caught a pass in double-coverage along the sideline five yards from the end zone, broke a tackle and went in for a 28-yard touchdown that ruined any burnt orange national championship hopes and holds up as the signature play of Crabtree’s college career.
On Saturday, Texas turned the tables.
With 21 seconds left, Longhorns quarterback Sam Ehlinger flung a jump ball up to Lil’Jordan Humphrey, who caught it through tight coverage on the exact same sideline Crabtree had tiptoed a decade ago and muscled his way to a 29-yard touchdown that helped Texas squeak out a 41–34 victory.
The visitors arguably shouldn’t have needed late heroics to win this one. Texas’s signature win this season, a 48–45 shootout survival of Oklahoma at the Cotton Bowl, was a sign of things to come: The Longhorns blew a 21-point fourth quarter lead, allowing Sooners quarterback Kyler Murray to sprint through their defense, before Cameron Dicker saved the day with a last-second game-winning field goal. Since then, Texas squeaked by Baylor and lost back-to-back games to Oklahoma State and West Virginia, giving up a total of 926 yards in those contests.
The Longhorns again enjoyed a comfortable 17-point lead in the third quarter, before their defense let them down again. Texas Tech began its march back when quarterback Jett Duffey, filling in for the injured Alan Bowman, hit Antoine Wesley for a 57-yard strike to cut the lead to 27–17. Texas came back with a touchdown three minutes later, when Ehlinger found Devin Duvernay for 39 yards with a defender being draped all over the junior wideout.
The Red Raiders erased that deficit with a four-minute flurry in the fourth quarter, taking exactly three minutes of game clock to score touchdowns on consecutive possessions to tie things up. Duffey’s nine-yard touchdown strike to Wesley with 1:45 left had the Red Raiders hoping for overtime. (Wesley roasted the Texas secondary all night, finishing with eight catches for 171 yards and two touchdowns.)
But Ehlinger, who threw for 312 yards and four touchdowns, would not be denied, leading the Longhorns on a 75-yard drive that included 33 yards worth of scrambles that set up the final score.
The victory still exposed glaring issues for Texas moving forward: The defense gave up a season-high 595 yards of offense, and the road to the Big 12 title game doesn’t get any easier when Iowa State comes to Austin next week. Humphrey’s 2008 callback tabled those concerns for another day.