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Revisionist History: What if Texas Tech football beats OU in 2008?

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In the first of a series, we talk about that late November night in Norman.

Acknowledging the fact I will absolutely peg my age to the readers of this site with this series, I decided that was a big enough risk to take and revisit some questions I often pondered with myself and other Red Raider friends, almost always over a cigar and a nice pour of Buffalo Trace bourbon (no free ads).

One question that is often revisited, to my ultimate dismay, is this:

What if the No. 2 ranked Texas Tech Red Raiders beat the No. 5 ranked Oklahoma Sooners in Norman in 2008?

A disclaimer before I begin, you may not know, but at one time the Texas Tech Red Raiders football team was somewhat nationally relevant. So much so, they actually fielded a team that left a fan base never questioning if a bowl game was possible, but if a conference championship or BCS Bowl Game was possible (if you need a refresher on what BCS refers to, here’s a link).

Another disclaimer, I want to try and be as objective as possible during this. As a Tech fan and alumnus, naturally, it would be very easy to say Texas Tech goes on to win the National Championship, but that is not what I’m striving for here.

My objective is simple, while being as reasonable as possible, what actually happens for Texas Tech if the result of the one game, call, or decision, is reversed? While the result may change, the fortune for Texas Tech may or may not. To help keep this scenario grounded, I have just one rule for this particular proposal.

• The results and personnel outcomes (injuries) of all regular season Big 12 Conference games stay the same, except for the game in question.

With that established, lets set the stage and let me take you back a bit as we revisit that 2008 season.

2008 is largely considered, for all intents and purposes, the best Texas Tech football season in the modern era. Rolling into the preseason ranked in the top-15, Texas Tech handled every team put in front of them, raising their ranking to No. 7 and setting the stage for the biggest game in Texas Tech history on November 1, 2008, a top-10 matchup against the No. 1 ranked Texas Longhorns. Some dude named Michael Crabtree caught a pass in the final seconds to win, sending Lubbock and West Texas in an infamous frenzy and vaulting the Red Raiders to a No. 2 ranking, the highest ranking in program history. Awesome, right? ESPN College Gameday was even there! Bob Knight cussed! Lee Corso shot guns wildly in the air! It was ridiculous!

What people tend to forget is that the very next week, Texas Tech would host another top-10 opponent in the No. 9 Oklahoma State Cowboys, who they would manhandle and go on to win back-to-back top ten games for the first time, ever.

With the victory, the Red Raiders would head into a bye week, with only one major obstacle in their way to winning the Big 12 South and playing for a Big 12 Championship in Kansas City (well, actually two, when you include the worst team in the Big 12, Baylor Bears).

I won’t detail the game. Just know that it was cold, the Red Raiders were stomped out and “Jump Around” by House of Pain was played as the OU fan base celebrated all over our tears on national television. If the game was played today, your parents’ neighbor would certainly be calling 9-1-1 to report a murder.

Watch the video below, if you want to torture yourself.

As stated before, I want to keep the outcomes of all regular season conference games the same, except for the game in question. So, Texas Tech beats Baylor and Oklahoma beats Oklahoma State in Bedlam the following week, while Texas wins out against Baylor, Kansas, and Texas A&M. There is no longer a three-way tie for first place in the Big 12 South and Texas Tech is awarded that crown and is scheduled to face the Big 12 North champion Missouri Tigers in the Big 12 Championship game.

However, and again as a result of the rules stated ahead of time, Graham Harrell and Michael Crabtree were both injured in the win against Baylor, which we must factor in. With a healthy Crabtree and Harrell, I think Tech breezes to victory over QB Chase Daniel and the Missouri Tigers; however, without them 100% healthy, it’s questionable at-best if they can win this game. With a shaky defense, questionable QB play and injured star receiver, I’m going to go ahead and reasonably expect that Texas Tech suffers a loss in Kansas City against a pretty good Missouri Tigers football team.

Assuming a loss, we now have Texas Tech, Big 12 champion Missouri, OU, and Texas at the top of the Big 12 rankings for the BCS Committee to choose from. If real history has any merit at this point, one cannot easily predict what the BCS Committee would do, but we’re definitely going to say TV rankings and Ticket sales are a major influence.

With that, I believe we can reasonably predict the BCS Committee would have to decide between the 11-2 Oklahoma Sooners and the Pac-10 Champion 11-1 USC Trojans. As unfair as it sounds, I don’t think the Committee could pass up a West Coast/East Coast match up, and they put the USC Trojans in the National Championship against the University of Florida. Pete Carroll vs Urban Meyer, what could be better for TV?

The effects of that decision would be felt primarily in the Big 12, where now Texas Tech, Oklahoma, Texas and, now, Big 12 Champion Missouri are battling for desirable bowl bids. This scenario, to this writer, spells doom for Texas Tech.

With Missouri carrying the Big 12 championship title, they would be automatically slotted in the Big 12’s BCS slot in the Fiesta Bowl against Ohio State. From there, Oklahoma would get an at-large BCS bid and gets an invite to the Orange Bowl, as their last game was a thorough slashing of Oklahoma State.

With the BCS Committee down to two teams, Texas Tech and Texas, I don’t think the committee would be able to help themselves and would pick the University of Texas to play in the Cotton Bowl against Ole Miss. That leaves Texas Tech, battered and bruised from playing for a conference championship for the first time in their Big 12 history, on the outside looking in with a bid to the Alamo Bowl against Northwestern. Even if the decision is flipped, Texas Tech remains with a Cotton Bowl invitation, and ends up exactly where they were with a loss against Oklahoma.

In summation, while some may say I was a bit conservative in my rationality, I do think when the 2008 season is looked at objectively it’s actually kind of difficult to see Texas Tech playing for a National Championship in 2008, even if they win that night in Norman. Make no mistake, that 2008 team was extremely salty on both sides of the ball, and I certainly acknowledge that there is a case to be made that they could go on and beat Missouri in the Big 12 title game and find themselves playing for a national championship; however, without a healthy Crabtree and Harrell, that case becomes harder to sell.

With that, I’ll pass the bourbon to you. What do you think? What happens if Texas Tech wins that late November night in 2008? Does Graham Harrell or Michael Crabtree win the Heisman, instead of Sam Bradford? Does Texas Tech win its first ever Big 12 championship in football play for a National Championship against Florida? Does the song “Jump Around” not send my soul to unimaginable depths of despair whenever I hear it?

We’re havin’ fun here, no?