Where does the 2006 Rose Bowl rank among the top 10 nail biters in Texas history?
The Horn continues it's Top 10 series with a look at the best nail biters in Texas history.
Little is more exhilarating than watching two teams grind it out towards victory and defeat. Fans would likely have the former than the latter, but fandom and the love of sports and competition will leave them on the edge of their seats regardless.
The Texas Longhorns have been in their fair share of nailbiters in the past, be it national championships, conference championships and the like. As we continue “The Horn’s Sports Top 10,” let’s dive into the Top 10 Nailbiters in Texas sports.
Disclaimer: Youth got may have gotten the best of me here.
Red River Rivalry 1994 – Stoney Clark put up a stone wall on Oklahoma running back James Allen at the 1-yard line on fourth-and-goal with 37 seconds left to seal a 17-10 win for the Longhorns.
Texas Football vs. Virginia 1995 – Phil Dawson nailed a 50-yard field goal into the wind as time expired to give the Horns a 17-16 win over the Cavaliers. Virginia kicker Rafael Garcia bolted a 56-yarder to grab a 16-14 advantage with just over three minutes to play.
Texas Football vs. Nebraska 2006 – The Longhorns blew a 16-7 first-half advantage, and it took sophomore walk-on Ryan Bailey’s first kick of his career—a 22-yarder with 23 seconds left—to steal a win from Nebraska in Lincoln.
10. Texas Football vs. Arkansas – Southwest Conference Game, 1987
The most significant part from this old rivalry game is that this supposedly was the first time in Longhorns football history that the match was decided on the final play of the game. Bret Stafford rifled an 18-yard strike to Tony Jones for a touchdown, perfectly darting the ball between three Arkansas defenders as the Longhorns claimed a 16-14 win to stun the home crowd in Fayetteville.
9. Texas Basketball vs. Oklahoma State – Big 12 Conference Game, 2007
Not exactly the most signature moment during the season for the Longhorns and Kevin Durant’s one-year career in Austin, Texas dropped one of the most gripping regular season games ever in the Big 12. A triple-overtime thriller had Oklahoma State narrowly edge the Horns 105-103 in Stillwater. Durant led Texas with 37 points and 12 rebounds, but the Cowboys’ Mario Boggan had his own monster night with 37 points and 20 boards of his own. The most awe-inducing moment came when Oklahoma State’s Byron Eaton sinks a circus shot like none other. Even with names like Abrams, Augustin, James and Durant all sporting burnt orange, the Longhorns fell just short in this extraordinary game.
8. Texas Football vs. Texas Tech – Big 12 Conference Game, 2008
By now, we all know the story here. The Longhorns were in a position to run the table and clinch a berth in the national title game for the second time in three seasons. Things looked ugly early as the Longhorns went into the half down 22-6. But a gritty offensive performance from Colt McCoy and company had the Horns back on top 33-32 with 90 seconds to play. Then, a freshman Blade Gideon happened.
7. Texas Football vs. Michigan – Rose Bowl, 2004
In what was a highly anticipated contest between a couple of college football’s premier programs, the Longhorns and Wolverines hardly disappointed in the 2004 Rose Bowl. It was Vince Young’s first full season as Texas’ signal caller, and the ultra-talented quarterback turned in probably the second-best game in Pasadena. Michigan turned a 14-14 halftime stalemate into a 31-21 advantage by the end of the third quarter. But Young, who put up 372 total yards, scored 10-yard and 23-yard touchdowns to help put Texas on top 35-34. After Michigan kicker Garrett Rivas nailed a 42-yard field goal to reclaim a 37-35 lead, Dusty Mangum kicked his way into the history books with a 37-yard response to end the game in walk-off fashion.
6. Texas Football vs. Nebraska – Big 12 Championship, 2009
After going down 12-10 with just under two minutes to play, Colt McCoy put together a drive that would have the Longhorns into their second national championship game in four seasons. Throughout the entire match, Nebraska defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh was a force. The former 2nd overall pick in the 2010 NFL Draft made a living in Texas’ backfield, wreaking havoc on the Longhorns’ offensive production. But McCoy and his well-commanded spread offense marched down the field before controversy struck. Did the clock expire or was the one-second add-on legitimate? For Mack Brown, kicker Hunter Lawrence and the Longhorns, all they needed was that one second. With a national championship appearance on the line, Lawrence used every inch of the space between the uprights to send the Longhorns to a 13-12 win and a showdown with Alabama for the national title.
5. Texas Football vs. Texas A&M – Lone Star Showdown, 2011
No surprises here. In what was the final showdown between Texas and Texas A&M as members of the Big 12, the Longhorns went into Kyle Field and stole the show from the Aggies. Things looked unpromising early, as the Aggies jumped out to a 13-0 lead with just under 11 minutes to play in the first half. But timely errors by Texas A&M gave the Texas offense opportunities to climb back into contention. Stiff defense in the third quarter helped the Longhorns rack up 17 unanswered points to claim a 24-16 lead. And after the Aggies snatched the lead again after a Jeff Fuller touchdown catch, Justin Tucker just said goodbye to A&M.
4. Texas Volleyball vs. Penn State – National Championship, 2009
Not all stories have happy endings. The No. 2-seeded Longhorns, led by a slew of talent including setter Ashley Engle and outsides Juliann Faucette and Destinee Hooker (who took home tournament MVP honors), jumped ahead with a two-set lead 25-22, 25-20. But the equally talented No. 1 Nittany Lions clawed back even, responding with wins in the third and fourth sets, 25-23, 25-21. Yet another gritty set in the fifth frame had the Lady Horns come up short, 13-15, as Penn State denied Texas’ first national championship since 1988. With perhaps one of the most anticipated finals in recent memory, and a game that featured three current USA Women’s National Team players, this NCAA Final was not void of excitement.
3. Texas Football vs. Notre Dame – Cotton Bowl, 1970
For the Longhorns’ third National Championship in eight seasons, Texas edged out Notre Dame in turf-splattering game 21-17. With a 10-7 Irish advantage heading into the final quarter, the Horns pounded the rock during an 18-play, 77-yard drive capped off by a Ted Koy 3-yard touchdown scamper. Four minutes later, Notre Dame quarterback Joe Theismann connected with Jim Yoder for a 24-yard score to get the Irish back up 17-14. Not to be denied, Texas once again marched 75-yards over 16 plays before Billy Dale took it in from a yard out to claim a 21-17 final lead with a minute to go.
2. Texas Baseball vs. Boston College – NCAA Regional, 2009
An ordinary spring day turned into one of the most memorable games in Texas sports and baseball history. The scheduled affair between the Longhorns and the Eagles in the NCAA Austin Regional turned into a 25-inning marathon that had the Horns snap an 18-inning scoreless streak with a run in the top half of the final frame before Austin Dicharry shut it down bottom half to seal the game. Closer Austin Wood threw 13 scoreless innings as a reliever, fanning 14 while allowing just two hits. In a combined effort, the two teams set a number of NCAA records, including marks of 42 strikeouts, 192 plate appearances and 171 at-bats. Nearly three years ago, a game that began at 6:02 p.m. did not finish until 1:05 a.m.
1. Texas Football vs. Southern California – BCS National Championship, 2005
There may not be a more exhilarating and emotionally taxing game than the Longhorns’ heroic win over the USC Trojans in the 2005 BCS National Championship. With Vince Young the catalyst among ridiculously complementary offensive playmakers, Texas rode on no. 10’s legs throughout the entire game. A handful of timely plays—the Reggie Bush mistake, Michael Griffin’s interception deep in Texas territory, USC’s failed fourth-down conversion—plus Young’s indomitable will carried the Longhorns to one of the most exciting college football games in the history of the sport and an instant classic.