As the ball traced an arc toward the sideline, and the clock ticked down, college football seemed to hold its breath.
It was Dec. 5, 2009. Colt McCoy, the Texas quarterback, had thrown the ball away under duress with his team in field goal range and trailing by 2 points in the Big 12 championship game. Inside Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Tex., the clock showed all zeros, apparently giving Nebraska the victory, Texas its first loss and undefeated Cincinnati, of all teams, a spot in the Bowl Championship Series title game, against Alabama.
But much to the chagrin of the Bearcats, video review showed the ball hit a railing with a second to play. That gave the Longhorns enough time to kick a field goal that sent them to the national title game, while Cincinnati settled for the Sugar Bowl.
Still, despite being walloped by Florida and Tim Tebow in that game, Cincinnati’s future seemed very bright indeed.