Big 12: Dustin Long

Wild game, even wilder rants boost OSU-Tech game to No. 14

June, 23, 2009

Posted by's Tim Griffin

No. 14

The day that press conferences were bigger than anything on the field.

Date: Sept. 22, 2007
Place: Boone Pickens Stadium, Stillwater, Okla.
Score: Oklahoma State 49, Texas Tech 45

Oklahoma State's wild victory over Texas Tech started the 2007 conference race with one of the most memorable games in Big 12 history.

The two teams combined for 94 points, 62 first downs, and 1,328 yards. There were also three lead changes in the final 12:25.

And that action was upstaged by the comments of both teams' coaches in the post-game press conference.

OSU coach Mike Gundy quickly became a celebrated national figure after he defended his backup quarterback Bobby Reid, who he felt had been unfairly portrayed before the game in a column in the Daily Oklahoman.

Texas Tech coach Mike Leach had a similar eruption where he questioned the toughness of his defense after it had been gashed for 366 rushing yards.

It was a wild scene unlike anything that has been seen -- before or since -- in Big 12 history.

Earlier, the action on the field was nearly as memorable.

Tech wide receiver Michael Crabtree had helped stake the Red Raiders to a 35-28 halftime advantage with three early touchdown grabs. But OSU stormed back to tie the game on Zac Robinson's 3-yard keeper with 1:15 left in the third quarter.

Early in the fourth quarter, OSU's defense came up with a huge play when Tech wide receiver Edward Britton fumbled at the Tech 38. On the next play, OSU took the lead when Seth Newton hit Jeremy Broadway on a 33-yard option pass for a touchdown to give the Cowboys the lead.

Tech stormed back to tie the game four plays later when quarterback Graham Harrell threw his fifth touchdown of the game -- a 41-yard strike to Danny Amendola.

The Red Raiders withstood OSU on the next drive as Robinson was stopped on fourth down at the Tech 40 by Joe Garcia. Tech then marched 58 yards on a scoring drive capped by Alex Trlica's 19-yard field goal that gave the Red Raiders a 45-42 lead with 4:49 left.

After an exchange of punts, OSU had one final chance. And on the first play from scrimmage, Robinson hooked up with tight end Brandon Pettigrew on a 54-yard TD reception that gave them the lead for good with 1:37 remaining.

Tech marched to the OSU 15, but Crabtree dropped a touchdown pass in the end zone with 19 seconds left after OSU cornerback Ricky Price had flashed in front of him.

It provided Gundy with a victory in his first conference game of the season, emboldening him to make perhaps the most celebrated rant in college football history.

Factoids to note: Harrell's 646 passing yards was the fourth-best single-game total in college football history at the time of the game as he completed 46 of 67 passes. OSU had three backs who rushed for 100 yards for the first time in the same game in school history -- Dantrell Savage with 130 yards, Robinson with 116 yards and Kendall Hunter with 113 yards. Crabtree and Amendola both had huge games as Crabtree produced 14 receptions for 237 yards and Amendola snagged 14 catches for 233 yards ... It was only OSU's second victory in a Big 12 opener in nine seasons.

They said it, part I: "Come after me! I'm a man! I'm 40!" OSU coach Mike Gundy's comments after he felt backup quarterback Bobby Reid was unfairly attacked in a newspaper column before the game.

They said it, part II: "We got hit in the mouth and acted like somebody took our lunch money. All we wanted to do was have pouty expressions on our face until somebody dabbed our little tears off and made us (expletive) feel better," Tech coach Mike Leach on his defense's inability to contain OSU's offense.

They said it, part III: "If I put it on the other shoulder, he's going to catch that easily and we win. If I put it a foot on the other side of him, we catch the ball and win. It's probably my fault. He played a heck of a game," Tech QB Graham Harrell on Michael Crabtree's late drop that cost the Red Raiders a game-winning touchdown.

They said it, part IV: "That was my Superman," OSU tight end Brandon Pettigrew describing his leap for the end zone on his game-winning touchdown.

The upshot: Gundy became a cult figure after his 3-minute 20-second outburst, which has been replayed on YouTube millions of times after the incident. Robinson claimed the starting position after the comeback victory and Reid never started at quarterback again. He eventually started at wide receiver later in the season, but transferred to Southern University after the season for his final year. In an interview with ESPN the Magazine's Tom Friend, Reid said that Gundy's rant "basically ended my life."

Leach fired defensive coordinator Lyle Setencich the following day and inserted Ruffin McNeill into the position. The move worked as the Red Raiders' defense improved markedly and helped spark them to a 9-4 season punctuated by a 31-28 victory over Virginia in the Gator Bowl. That triumph helped boost Tech to a No. 22 ranking in the final Associated Press poll that season.

OSU used momentum from the comeback victory to charge to a 7-6 record during the rest of the season, capping the season with a 49-33 triumph over Indiana in the Insight Bowl in the Cowboys' second-straight bowl victory under Gundy.

The countdown:

15. Rout 66: No, that score wasn't a typo.
16. Kansas State finally slays the Cornhuskers.
17. Kingsbury and Long hook up in a passing duel for the ages.
18. Henery and Suh make Colorado blue.
19. Stunning OSU rally leads to Stoops' first home loss.
20. It's never over for Texas Tech until it's over.
21. Reesing to Meier. Again and again.
22. A Texas-sized comeback -- Texas over Oklahoma State in 2004.
23. A Border War unlike any of the rest -- Missouri over Kansas in 2007.
24. Seneca Wallace's wild TD run vs. Texas Tech in 2001.
25. Baylor's "So Much for Taking a Knee" against UNLV in 1999.

Mackovic's UT coaching career doomed in 66-3 loss

June, 22, 2009

Posted by's Tim Griffin

No. 15

Rout 66: No, that score wasn't a typo

Date: Sept. 13, 1997
Place: Darrell K. Royal/Texas Memorial Stadium, Austin, Texas
Score: UCLA 66, Texas 3

Simply stated, it was one of the most embarrassing moments in Texas football history.

  Stephen Dunn /Allsport
  Bruins quarterback Cade McNown threw for a school-record five touchdown passes.

Rebuilding UCLA came into the season unranked. And the Bruins' national perception took a hit after starting the season with losses to Washington State and Tennessee.

The No. 11 Longhorns met UCLA without starting quarterback James Brown, who was nursing a bruised left ankle. Texas still had many of weapons returning from a team that had notched an upset victory the previous season to claim the Big 12 championship over Nebraska.

But those factors didn't matter to UCLA quarterback Cade McNown, who blistered Texas' secondary for 202 passing yards and a school-record five touchdown passes to spark the stunning victory.

McNown blew the game open with a pair of touchdown throws 20 seconds apart early in the second quarter; he hit Skip Hicks on a 43-yard scoring pass and then hooked up with Mike Grieb on a 1-yard touchdown reception after a Texas turnover.

But he was just getting started. McNown hit Jim McElroy with a 4-yard touchdown pass and Grieb with another 1-yard scoring toss that boosted UCLA to an improbable 38-0 lead with 4:37 left in the first half.

Texas got a 35-yard field goal from Phil Dawson early in the third quarter to account for all of its scoring, but the landslide didn't stop when UCLA coach Bob Toledo pulled his starters and inserted his substitutes.

The Bruins erupted for 21 points in the fourth quarter, including a 10-yard scoring run from Keith Brown with 4:24 left and a 40-yard interception return for a touchdown from Damian Allen 23 seconds later.

The Longhorns struggled with eight turnovers and seven sacks in a humiliating performance that hasn't been matched in Texas' modern football history. It was the worst home defeat in Texas history and at the time was the worst loss for a ranked team in the 61-year history of the Associated Press poll.

The game was played before a crowd of 77,203 that shrank to a few thousand hardy souls before halftime.

But it still didn't keep those fans left fromgiving the Longhorns a standing ovation late in the first half -- after the beleaguered defense forced a incompletion by McNown on third down, stopping UCLA from scoring for the first time.

After the loss, Texas coach John Mackovic was living on borrowed time on the Forty Acres.  

Factoids to note: UCLA scored on its first six possessions ... Mackovic tried two quarterbacks to fill in for Brown with little success. Starter Richard Walton went 16-for-27 for 145 yards with an interception and four sacks before he was pulled. Replacement Marty Cherry was sacked three times and completed 9 of 18 passes for 105 yards and three interceptions ... UCLA's underrated defense shackled Ricky Williams and held him to one of the worst performances of his career. Williams rushed for only 36 yards on 13 carries, the third-lowest total of his career. His only games with less rushing production were 4 yards against Oklahoma in 1995 as a freshman and 7 yards against Nebraska in the 1996 Big 12 championship game ... The victory was the most lopsided for UCLA since the Bruins romped over San Diego Naval Training Center, 67-0, in 1954 ... UCLA turned six of its eight turnovers into touchdowns.

They said it, part I: "My family's out there waiting. I know it sounds horrible, but I don't want to look them in the eye. Playing sports all my life, fighting with my brother, I've never seen something like this. It's embarrassing," Texas center Ryan Fiebiger, who told reporters of his angst after the loss.

They said it, part II: "What do you say to friends and family who see this score?" Texas coach John Mackovic after the loss.

They said it, part III: "When the landslide starts, it's hard to get it stopped. I feel bad for John," UCLA coach Bob Toledo, who spoke after the game of his empathy for Mackovic.

They said it, part IV: "At least the band kept playing." The classic first paragraph in Kirk Bohls' column about the game.

The upshot: Mackovic was never able to overcome the loss as he was fired after the season ended. Only a year after the Longhorns claimed the Big 12 title, Texas finished 4-7. But the Longhorns have been to a bowl game every season since hiring Mack Brown.

Walton would win the starting job in Mack Brown's first season. But he sustained a season-ending injury early-on against the Bruins at the Rose Bowl and never started again for the Longhorns.

The Bruins used the big victory to spark them on a memorable comeback. After losing the first two games of the 1997 season by a combined nine points, UCLA erupted on a 10-game winning streak to finish the season, capped by a 29-23 victory over Texas A&M in the 1998 Cotton Bowl. In that game, UCLA overcame an early 16-0 A&M lead to charge back for the triumph that helped them finish No. 5 in the final Associated Press poll.

The countdown:

16. Kansas State finally slays the Cornhuskers.
17. Kingsbury and Long hook up in a passing duel for the ages.
18. Henery and Suh make Colorado blue.
19. Stunning OSU rally leads to Stoops' first home loss.
20. It's never over for Texas Tech until it's over.
21. Reesing to Meier. Again and again.
22. A Texas-sized comeback -- Texas over Oklahoma State in 2004.
23. A Border War unlike any of the rest -- Missouri over Kansas in 2007.
24. Seneca Wallace's wild TD run vs. Texas Tech in 2001.
25. Baylor's "So Much for Taking a Knee" against UNLV in 1999.

Ochs' tackle of Crouch is Big 12's No. 16 moment

June, 19, 2009

Posted by's Tim Griffin

No. 16

KSU finally slays the Cornhuskers

Date: Nov. 14, 1998
Place: KSU Stadium, Manhattan, Kan.
Score: Kansas State 40, Nebraska 30

Kansas State had labored in the shadows of Nebraska for many years. The Wildcats' 10-0 start in the 1998 season had pushed them to No. 1 in the national rankings, but they were still looking for a breakthrough victory against their old nemesis to catapult them into their first Big 12 title game.

They got that and more in an impressive victory over the Cornhuskers  that clinched the Wildcats' North Division title -- the Wildcats' first football title of any kind since 1934.

And they did it with a flourish as a KSU defense that had struggled earlier in the game provided two key plays to seal the victory late in the fourth quarter.

Linebacker Travis Ochs made a critical fourth-down stop of Eric Crouch, grabbing his face mask to make the tackle. No penalty was called, although television replays showed that Ochs could have been flagged on the play.

A blitzing Ochs came around untouched on Crouch's left side. As the Nebraska quarterback ducked to avoid him, Ochs grabbed Crouch's face mask and never let go as he nearly spun his helmet around before throwing him to the turf at the Nebraska 20.

Kansas State took over but couldn't move the ball. Nebraska had one more possession, but Jeff Kelly picked up Crouch's fumble and returned it 23 yards for a touchdown with three seconds left to ice the victory.

But it wasn't easy. The Wildcats overcame an early 17-7 deficit after Nebraska had jumped ahead on a pair of first-quarter touchdown passes from Crouch and an 18-yard Kris Brown field goal. It was the first time in the season that KSU trailed.

KSU charged back and pulled within 17-14 at halftime after Michael Bishop added his second TD run of the game.

Bishop helped boost KSU into the lead early in the third quarter - the first time the Wildcats had led Nebraska since 1991 -- on a 17-yard TD pass from Bishop to Darnell McDonald and a 25-yard field goal by Martin Gramatica. But Nebraska tied the score when Ralph Brown recovered a Frank Murphy fumble and rambled 74 yards for a touchdown.

The lead changed again early in the fourth quarter when Gramatica boosted KSU ahead on a 21-yard field goal. Nebraska responded on a 9-yard scoring pass from Crouch to tight end Sheldon Jackson gave put them back in the lead with about 8 minutes left.

KSU then turned to Bishop, who finished with 446 yards of total offense in the game, for its late rally. His 11-yard TD strike to McDonald put KSU ahead for good at 34-30 with 5:25 left.

Delirious KSU fans rushed the field twice before the game ended. It took them about 30 minutes to tear down the goalposts to celebrate what likely is the biggest home victory in KSU history.

Factoids to note: The victory was the first by victory by the Wildcats over Nebraska since 1968 and their first home victory over the Cornhuskers since 1959 ... Bishop passed for 306 yards and two touchdowns and also rushed for 140 yards on 25 carries and scored twice ... KSU's McDonald produced a career-high 12 receptions for 183 yards ... Crouch completed only 10 of 21 passes for 139 yards, but passed for three TDs and added 108 yards rushing on 22 carries ... It was Nebraska's third loss of the regular season, the first time the Cornhuskers had lost that many regular-season games in 22 years ... The game was played before a then- record crowd of 44,298 at KSU Stadium.

They said it, part I: "I don't want to be branded as a cheater. But the referee was right there. Those are the breaks of the game," Ochs' post-game comments to the Associated Press about his late tackle of Crouch.

They said it, part II: "The torch being passed? I'm not falling for that. I don't believe it. I take nothing from their win. They're a good team. But I believe the best team in the country has three losses this season and it wears 'N' on its helmet," Jackson's post-game comments to the Associated Press about Nebraska's loss.

They said it, part III: "We knew if we lost, people would call us flukes. We had to beat them to get the respect we deserve," Kansas State defensive end Joe Bob Clements, who told the Daily Nebraskan that the victory was monumental for the KSU program.

The upshot: The victory guaranteed KSU a spot in its first Big 12 championship game three weeks later in St. Louis. But the 11-0 Wildcats squandered a 15-point fourth-quarter lead in a 36-33 double-overtime loss to Texas A&M.

That defeat sent the Wildcats careening to the Alamo Bowl, where they lost to Purdue and finished 11-2. After ranking No. 1 earlier in the season, KSU finished the season ranked 10th in the final Associated Press poll.

Nebraska rebounded to beat Colorado the following week, but lost to Arizona in the Holiday Bowl. Frank Solich finished his first season 9-4 and ranked No. 19 in the final AP poll - Nebraska's lowest end-of-season ranking in eight seasons.

The countdown:

17. Kingsbury and Long hook up in a passing duel for the ages.
18. Henery and Suh make Colorado blue.
19. Stunning OSU rally leads to Stoops' first home loss.
20. It's never over for Texas Tech until it's over.
21. Reesing to Meier. Again and again.
22. A Texas-sized comeback -- Texas over Oklahoma State in 2004.
23. A Border War unlike any of the rest -- Missouri over Kansas in 2007.
24. Seneca Wallace's wild TD run vs. Texas Tech in 2001.
25. Baylor's "So Much for Taking a Knee" against UNLV in 1999.

Long-Kingsbury duel is No. 17 Big 12 moment

June, 18, 2009

Posted by's Tim Griffin

No. 17

Kingsbury and Long hook up in passing duel for the ages

Date: Oct. 5, 2002
Place: Kyle Field, College Station, Texas
Score: Texas Tech 48, Texas A&M 47 (OT)

The Texas A&M-Texas Tech rivalry has developed into one of the country's most bitter blood feuds in the last few years. The Red Raiders have proved difficult for Texas A&M ever since Mike Leach took over in 2000.

One of the most memorable games in the rivalry wasn't settled until one of the wildest passing shootouts in conference history transpired.

Kliff Kingsbury was judged to be one of the nation's top quarterbacks in 2002, setting a conference record with six touchdown passes the week before the A&M game in a 49-0 beatdown of New Mexico.

Texas A&M quarterback Dustin Long wasn't expected to be nearly as proficient. Coming into the Tech game, he had thrown only one touchdown pass in his previous college career.

But that didn't faze him as he started quickly against the Tech secondary, blistering them for a 78-yard touchdown pass to Bethel Johnson on A&M's first offensive play of the game. He also added three other touchdown passes -- a 4-yard toss to Greg Porter, 9 yards to Terrence Murphy and 15 yards to Johnson -- to spark the No. 23 Aggies to a 28-17 halftime advantage.

Kingsbury was just as hot early, starting the game with 14 straight completions. But Long was more effective early, boosting the Aggies to a 35-17 lead on an 82-yard touchdown strike to Jamaar Taylor with 6:57 left in the third quarter.

That lead held until the fourth quarter when Kingsbury went to work.

The Red Raiders exploded for 21 unanswered points in a span of less than 10 minutes to take the lead after a 21-yard Kingsbury TD pass to Wes Welker, a 15-yard TD toss from Kingsbury to Taurean Henderson and a 88-yard punt return by Welker with 2:48 left. A two-point pass from Kingsbury to Anton Paige provided Tech with a 38-35 lead with 2:48 left.

The Aggies answered on a wild scoring play when running back Stacy Jones recovered a fumble by Porter at the Texas Tech 1 and carried it into the end zone with 1:40 left to extend A&M's lead to three. But kicker John Pierson missed the extra point to make it 41-38.

Kingsbury then engineered a seven-play 56-yard drive in only 98 seconds. It was capped by a 42-yard field goal by Robert Treece with two seconds left, tying the game at 41 and setting up the first overtime game in the history of the series.

The Aggies scored first in overtime on Long's seventh touchdown pass of the game, a 3-yarder to Terrence Thomas. But Pierson sent the conversion careening wide left, giving Tech an opening.

Four plays later, Kingsbury hooked up on an inside screen pass to Nehemiah Glover, who cut to the middle before scoring on a 10-yard reception. Treece's conversion gave the Red Raiders a wild 48-47 victory.

Kingsbury's heroics were particularly sweet considering he wanted to attend A&M coming out of high school. The Aggies never seriously recruited him and he ended up at Tech, where he left school as the most productive passer in school history.

The numbers: Kingsbury and Long combined for 841 passing yards and 13 touchdowns. Kingsbury completed 49-of-59 passes for 474 yards and six touchdown passes; Long was 21 for 37 for 367 yards and a Big 12 record seven TD passes. At the time, the Aggies' 47 points were the most they have ever scored in a loss.

It was also the most points that A&M had allowed at Kyle Field since a 57-28 loss to Texas in 1977. The week before the game, Long threw a touchdown pass in his first career start. It snapped a string of seven straight A&M games without a touchdown pass. And Henderson produced 13 catches for 61 yards to pace Tech.

They said it, part I: "This is the biggest definitely. To do it against A&M -- a college I wanted to come to out of high school, and they didn't recruit me -- I made my point today," Kingsbury, who told the Lubbock Avalanche Journal that the win was particularly memorable to him.

They said it, part II: "All week long, I had a great week of practice. The snaps and holds were great. It was my fault. I thought the first one was good, but it just missed going through. The second one I pulled from the beginning, and I knew I missed it right away," Pierson, who described his missed extra points to reporters after the game.

They said it, part III: "I didn't see anybody on our sideline that didn't think we couldn't win," Tech coach Mike Leach, commenting on his team's 18-point fourth-quarter comeback.

The upshot: Texas Tech utilized momentum from the victory to charge to an upset victory over Texas later in the season. That triumph boosted the Red Raiders into a winner-take-all battle for the South Division title against Oklahoma that they lost, 60-15.

After that loss, they advanced to the Tangerine Bowl where they notched a 55-15 triumph over Clemson for their first bowl victory under Leach. The Red Raiders finished the season at 9-5.

A&M coach R.C. Slocum and the Aggies had trouble overcoming the Tech loss. The Aggies lost four of their final five games that season to finish 6-6. Slocum was fired after the final game of the season, a 50-20 loss at Texas, and replaced by Dennis Franchione.

Long started the remaining games of the season but was supplanted by Reggie McNeal as the Aggies' starter the following season. After the demotion, Long transferred to Sam Houston State following the 2003 season where he completed his college career.

The countdown:

18. Henery and Suh make Colorado blue.
19. Stunning OSU rally leads to Stoops' first home loss.
20. It's never over for Texas Tech until it's over.
21. Reesing to Meier. Again and again.
22. A Texas-sized comeback -- Texas over Oklahoma State in 2004.
23. A Border War unlike any of the rest -- Missouri over Kansas in 2007.
24. Seneca Wallace's wild TD run vs. Texas Tech in 2001.
25. Baylor's "So Much for Taking a Knee" against UNLV in 1999.

Johnson surging toward record-setting season for Aggies

November, 4, 2008

Posted by's Tim Griffin

The morning after games are a little different for Texas A&M quarterback Jerrod Johnson these days.

 Stephen Mally/Icon SMI
 Jerrod Johnson is completing 63 percent of his passes.

It's not like he's complaining about the assortment of postgame bumps, bruises and scrapes that keep turning up. Johnson is just happy to be playing again on a regular basis.

"On Sundays, things are pretty slow and I'm pretty sore," Johnson said. "But I'm feeling all right. That's what we did was work hard all summer to deal with all of the grueling stuff we face. I think I've held up pretty well."

A&M coach Mike Sherman is relieved at that comment, which might be one of the biggest understatements in recent memory.

After taking over the starting job when Stephen McGee went down with a shoulder injury, the sophomore has pumped some life back into A&M's program. His recent passing binge has fueled the Aggies' modest two-game winning streak leading into their game Saturday against No. 4 Oklahoma.

"I knew he was a very talented player and bright," Sherman said. "But to think he would be as comfortable as he is, I can't say I thought that would happen. He still has a ways to get better at, but his comfort level has exceeded my expectations."

Johnson and McGee were involved in a tight battle for the starting job during fall camp. McGee eventually won out and started the Aggies first three games.

But Sherman found a way to get the 6-foot-5, 229-pound Johnson in the game, starting him at wide receiver to capitalize on his athleticism. Johnson still leads the Aggies with a 20.5 yard per reception average from earlier in the season.

And when McGee went down with a shoulder injury against Miami, Johnson directed the victory off the bench and also started the next game against Miami before returning to wide receiver against Army. But McGee re-injured his shoulder against the Black Knights and Johnson delivered a game-winning touchdown pass in relief.

He hasn't looked back from there, erupting on a record-breaking pace he credits to the growth of his teammates with him. Eight freshmen are listed on Texas A&M's offensive two-deep roster, including three who are listed as starters or co-starters.

"It's slowed down a little bit, but the biggest thing is the guys around me," Johnson said. "They've done a great job of learning the offense. I think the game has slowed down and I've gotten better, but it's a great job of the team coming together."

(Read full post)