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December 06, 2009

What one second can do for you

It doesn't matter how old you might be, you can always learn something new.

Take last night, for instance. Who knew Sully's Irish Pub in West Des Moines attracted so many Texas fans? We're there toasting a Drake basketball victory, friendship and any other excuse we can dream up for drinking Irish coffee and Guinness. The Nebraska-Texas game is on television and a huge cheer erupts when Texas kicks its game-winning field goal as time expires.

Funny thing, there's not a hint of burnt orange or Longhorns' gear in sight, yet a lot of people are really excited. Hook 'em Horns, right?

Well, not quite.

We're being facetious about all of this, of course. Those weren't Texas fans celebrating. They were Iowa fans -- and there no doubt were whoops and hollers in bars across the state when Hunter Lawrence's field goal sailed through the uprights. Because the Texas victory improved the Hawkeyes' chances of landing a berth in a BCS bowl.

But Iowa fans everywhere had to be squirming as Texas quarterback Colt McCoy rolled to his right with the final seconds ticking away. When he finally threw the ball away, the clocked showed zeros and the Nebraska players rushed the field, thinking they had won the game 12-10 and clinched the Big 12's BCS berth. But the play was reviewed, one second was put back on the clock and Lawrence came through.

And that one second has made all the difference. What if the Longhorns had committed one of the biggest blunders ever and really let time run out? What if the official review determined time had indeed expired?

Oh my.

A Nebraska victory would have sent shock waves rippling through the entire bowl scenario. It would have put the Cornhuskers in the Fiesta Bowl and dropped Texas into the at-large pool, from where the Longhorns might have bumped Iowa from a BCS game.

With two Big 12 teams in BCS bowls, Iowa State would have moved up in the pecking order and the conference wouldn't have had enough teams to fill its bowl commitments, which would have affected other bowls. If no Big Ten team got into a BCS game, everyone in the league would have moved down a notch and that also would have impacted other bowls.

Imagine the hand-wringing that would have ensued, not to mention the fact that TCU or maybe Cincinnati would have ended up in the BCS championship game against Alabama.

But one measly second and a calm, accurate kicker kept the BCS house in order. So Iowa fans, you might want to try to get Lawrence's cell phone number and send him some congratulatory text messages. And maybe a thank-you note to that replay official.

As for Texas, one touchdown and 13 points isn't going to strike any fear in Alabama hearts. After the way Nebraska manhandled McCoy and the Longhorns, the Tide defense has to be licking its chops.

Mack Brown and his offensive coaches had best be getting to work soon. They've got a lot to figure out between now and Jan. 7.

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