LUBBOCK, Texas: For nine years, Texas Tech coach Mike Leach has toiled on the dusty plains of West Texas while often being regarded as a madman directing a sideshow.
His team has been more known for its spread offense that some consider gimmicky and his own eccentric personality has been celebrated in YouTube lore.
But with No. 6 Texas Tech's 38-33 upset of top-ranked and previously undefeated Texas here Saturday night in front of a record crowd of 56,333 rowdy fans at Jones AT&T Stadium, Leach took his team from a novelty act in a remote college town to the center of the college football universe.
After falling behind 33-32 for the first time with 1:29 remaining in the game, Red Raiders quarterback Graham Harrell directed a six-play, 62-yard drive to win the game on his 28-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Michael Crabtree with one second remaining.
On the previous play, a pass by Harrell deflected off the hands of Texas Tech wide receiver Edward Britton and was dropped by Texas safety Blake Gideon.
The victory is the biggest in Texas Tech history and the first over a top-ranked team and puts the Red Raiders squarely in the national championship chase along with No. 2 Alabama (9-0, 5-0 SEC) and No. 3 Penn State (9-0, 5-0 Big Ten) and muddles the race in the Big 12 South division. It also gives hope to teams like No. 4 Oklahoma (8-1, 4-1 Big 12), No. 7 Southern California (7-1, 5-1 PAC-10), No. 5 Florida (7-1, 5-1 SEC) and No. 9 Oklahoma State (8-1, 4-1 Big 12), all of whom won Saturday.
Oklahoma beat Nebraska, 62-28; Florida beat eighth ranked Georgia 49-10; USC beat Washington, 56-0; and Oklahoma State beat Iowa State, 59-17.
Alabama stayed unbeaten as it defeated Arkansas State, 35-0, while Penn State had the weekend off.
More immediately, Texas Tech's victory muddles the race in the Big 12 South division. And for Texas Tech (9-0, 4-0 Big 12) to remain in contention, it will have to navigate two treacherous games against Oklahoma State and at Oklahoma before ending the regular season against Baylor.
Saturday's game also shook up the Heisman Trophy race. Longhorns quarterback Colt McCoy had been the clear front-runner for the award, but can now see Harrell and Florida quarterback Tim Tebow in the rear-view mirror.
Texas (8-1, 4-1 Big 12) had been trying to be just the second team to have beaten four consecutive top 11 teams in the Associated Press poll since Notre Dame did it in 1943.
From the outset Saturday night, Texas struggled. On its first offensive play from its own 2-yard line, tailback Chris Ogbonnya was tackled in the end zone for a safety to give Texas Tech a 2-0 lead with 10:38 remaining in the first quarter.
Texas Tech scored on Williams' 29-yard field goal with 6:47 left in the first quarter. Baron Butch then crowned a meticulous 96-yard drive with a 3-yard run tat the end of the first quarter.
Then, facing third-and-14 from Texas 32-yard line, Harrell held the ball for almost 10 seconds and retreated to near mid-field before completing a 14-yard pass to wide receiver Lyle Leong for a first down. On the next play, he threw an 18-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Eric Morris to extend Texas Tech's lead to 19-0 with 9:39 remaining in the second quarter.
Texas finally scored with 5:27 left in the second quarter on kicker Hunter Lawrence's 43-yard field goal, was set up by the recovery of a Texas Tech fumble at the Red Raiders 29-yard line.
Texas trailed 22-6 at halftime but hit back with a 45-yard punt return by Texas wide receiver Jordan Shipley with 10:26 remaining in the third quarter.
Less than three minutes later, McCoy tried to find Shipley just beyond his own 20-yard line and had his pass intercepted and returned 18 yards by Texas Tech strong safety Daniel Charbonnet for a touchdown and a 29-13 advantage.
Texas did score again near the end of the third quarter on a 37-yard touchdown pass by McCoy to wide receiver Malcolm Williams to pull within 29-19 of Texas Tech.
Texas Tech nearly unraveled. The Longhorns blocked a 42-yard field goal attempt of kicker Matt Williams. On the next play, McCoy tossed a 91-yard touchdown pass to Williams to cut Texas Tech's lead to 29-26 with 11:00 left.
On their next possession the Red Raiders capped a 13-play, 55-yard drive with a 42-yard field goal by kicker Donnie Carona to extend their advantage to 32-26 with 5:45 remaining.
Texas answered right back on Vondrell McGee's 4-yard touchdown run for a 33-32 lead with 1:29 left for its lone lead of the night, only to give away to Crabtree's heroics.
After the winning touchdown, Texas Tech fans ran on to the field three times prematurely before the game ended after Texas' failed kickoff return.
A sign said, "OUR TIME OUR HOUSE."
Texas Tech and Leach have arrived.