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November 7, 2008
Texas Tech, Oklahoma State in new positions
Quarterback Graham Harrell led Texas Tech's offense downfield on a furious final drive to salvage victory in the final seconds. With time running out, he rifled a pass to receiver Michael Crabtree, who reached up and ... let the ball slip through his hands.
"I can remember being in the locker room after that game," Harrell said. "'Crab' was on one side of me with his head down and in tears. 'Emo' [wide receiver Eric Morris] was on the other side. I was crying. We left it all on the field and were crushed.
"We were very disappointed we lost. That's college football. It was a shootout going back and forth. We really grew off that game."
A lot has changed since Oklahoma State held on for a 49-45 victory over the Red Raiders last season. Oklahoma State's Mike Gundy went from obscure college football coach to controversial figure after a post-game tirade. Ruffin McNeill was promoted to Texas Tech defensive coordinator. Oklahoma State sophomore Kendall Hunter has gone from a backup to the Big 12's best running back. And Crabtree is making game-winning touchdown catches in the final seconds, which he did in last week's 39-33 upset of Texas.
But the greatest change is that Texas Tech and Oklahoma State are playing in November for the lead in the Big 12 South, a designation usually reserved for Oklahoma or Texas this late in the season.
Tech is second in the BCS standings. Oklahoma State is ninth in the BCS and hoping to get into the national championship picture. Neither have played in the Big 12 championship game or appeared in a BCS bowl. That could be changing, too.
Who gets the edge?
Texas Tech run offense vs. Oklahoma State run defense
Texas Tech pass offense vs. Oklahoma State pass defense
Oklahoma State run offense vs. Texas Tech run defense
Oklahoma State pass offense vs. Texas Tech pass defense
Texas Tech special teams vs. Oklahoma State special teams
Texas Tech coaches vs. Oklahoma State coaches
X-factor: Emotion always is a big factor. Texas Tech must avoid an emotional letdown after its landmark victory over Texas a week ago. The Red Raiders never before have led the Big 12 South this late in the season. Whether they can handle the pressure that goes with it remains to be seen. Tech is out to avenge a close loss to Oklahoma State last year.
Texas Tech will win if: The Red Raiders' massive offensive line has done a superb job protecting Harrell, and that remains the key. If Harrell has time to distribute the football to Crabtree and his other receivers, Tech's offense is almost impossible to stop. In addition, the defense must slow Oklahoma State's Hunter and the Red Raiders have to avoid a hangover from last week's victory.
Oklahoma State will win if: A big game from Hunter will not only boost Oklahoma State's offense, but conceivably could limit Texas Tech's opportunities with the football. The Cowboys' defense pressured Chase Daniel and forced three interceptions in an earlier victory over Missouri. It will need a similar performance to get by Tech. The Cowboys also must avoid turnovers.
Olin Buchanan: Texas Tech 35, Oklahoma State 31
Olin Buchanan is the senior college football writer for Rivals.com. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.