Everybody knows what happened on Nov. 1, 2008 in Lubbock. Texas 33, Texas Tech 32. The clock ticking under 10 seconds. Tech desperate to finish off a game-winning drive. Texas desperate to stop it and preserve its national title hopes.
Quarterback Graham Harrell's pass bounced off his receiver at the Texas 20, fluttered a few yards back and came down in Texas freshman safety Blake Gideon's bread basket.
"Oh no, game over," said the Texas Tech play-by-play voice. "No, they're calling it incomplete."
The football slipped through Gideon's hands and hit the turf. Game on. On the next play, with eight seconds left, Harrell found Michael Crabtree on the sideline. He tip-toed into the end zone for the game-winning touchdown. Just like that, the Longhorns were out of the Big 12 championship game and their national championship dream faded into the night.
Now a junior, Gideon and the No. 6-ranked Longhorns return to Jones AT&T Stadium Saturday night for the first time since that dreaded night. Texas got a measure of revenge last season in Austin, 34-24. Gideon has moved beyond that play and now, as a junior, is one of the most respected and productive players on the team.
"He is a leader, [and] knows what he’s doing," senior cornerback Curtis Brown said. "He picks up guys when they’re down. He’s just overall a leader. He’s not a senior, but people look at him like he is one because he’s been here awhile."
And been through so much.
"He’s tough. He’s smart," Texas coach Mack Brown said. "He’s got tremendous character. He took it as a motivator to make sure he never had anything else like that happen to him again. I’d even forgotten it. That’s what you do. You move forward."