Dreams of TX Tech come crashing down

November 22, 2008 9:54:13 PM PST
Graham Harrell entered Saturday atop most Heisman Trophy lists and with a chance to lift No. 2 Texas Tech to a national championship. Now, neither one is likely after No. 5 Oklahoma routed the Red Raiders 65-21 and harrassed Harrell into -- at least for him -- a pedestrian performance.

Harrell entered the game with 4,077 passing yards this season, having recorded five 400-yard games for Texas Tech (10-1, 6-1 Big 12 Conference). Four times he'd thrown for four or more touchdowns, including two weeks ago, when he shredded Oklahoma State's defense for 456 yards and a career-high six scores while completing 40 of 50 passes in a 56-20 romp.

Harrell came nowhere near those numbers against Oklahoma (10-1, 6-1) and the Sooners' suddenly resurgent defense, finishing 33-for-55 for 361 yards with three touchdowns, an interception and a lost fumble.

The Sooners sacked him four times, after he'd taken only five sacks in the previous 10 games. Only passing yardage recorded in garbage time in the fourth quarter kept Harrell from his lowest total of the season.

In the first half, while the game remained in doubt, Harrell and the Red Raiders never found their rhythm.

Oklahoma's linemen batted down passes and the Sooners' defensive backs blanketed Tech receivers, including star Michael Crabtree, who had six catches for 62 yards, well below his averages. Harrell often had to move around in the pocket to buy time to search, often unsuccessfully, for someone who was open.

The Sooners even sacked Harrell on successive plays.

Texas Tech went scoreless on its first five drives, their longest drought all season, and the Red Raiders already trailed 28-0 before Harrell's first touchdown pass, a 25-yarder to Tramain Swindall with 6:28 left in the first half.

Even when Harrell tried to make something happen, things went awry.

With the Red Raiders already down 35-7 in the final minute of the half, they appeared to be willing to run out the clock, calling a first-down running play from their own 25. But on second down, Harrell threw deep over the middle, and Oklahoma's Travis Lewis intercepted the pass at the Tech 49. Lewis returned it to the 2, setting up another Oklahoma score.

Things didn't improve much in the second half for Harrell, as the Sooners not only built on their lead, but he watched one of his main competitors for the Heisman -- Oklahoma quarterback Sam Bradford -- enhance his own resume. Bradford finished 14 of 19 passing for 304 yards and four touchdowns.

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