It was all right there, laid out perfectly before Colt McCoy's eyes.
A Big 12 championship. A BCS title game berth. Even, perhaps, a Heisman trophy.
All the Texas quarterback needed to do was take one more snap and look to get a few more yards to put his team's kicker, Hunter Lawrence, in good position to kick the game-winning field goal.
McCoy took the snap with seven seconds remaining, rolled to his right and saw nothing but red jerseys (which was about all he saw during Saturday night's Big 12 Championship in Arlington, Tex.)
No problem, right? McCoy didn't have to get any more yards, per se. He just needed to make the smart play and throw the ball out of bounds with two, maybe three seconds left.
Then Lawrence would trot on the field, and the Longhorns would head to the BCS championship game in Pasadena.
Only one problem: McCoy forgot to throw the football. Until it was almost too late.
Whether he didn't realize the clock was so low, felt he could rifle the ball out of bounds in a split second, or was simply unconcerned with the issue altogether, the senior let the ball fly with about two seconds to play.
The ball soared over the Nebraska bench out of bounds, landing just as the clock read "0.00."
Nebraska fans, players, and coaches began celebrating an apparent win. McCoy, knocked to the ground for the umpteenth time by Husker defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh, was left on his knees, staring in disbelief that the game could possibly be over.
For a moment, everything McCoy and his Texas teammates had played for appeared to be lost. For a moment, the Heisman quarterback looked remarkably un-Heisman-like.
Fortunately for the Longhorns, a review of the play revealed that there was, indeed, one second remaining on the clock when McCoy's pass landed out of bounds.
But think about it for a moment: What if there hadn't been?
McCoy, the NCAA's winningest quarterback of all time and the leader in the pack for the Heisman trophy, was precisely one second away from making a mistake that would have ended his team's title hopes. One second away from having an otherwise stellar career defined by one decision.
Can you say "Chris Webber?"
Obviously, the gaffe quickly became a moot point, as Texas did kick the game-winning field goal Saturday night and will, indeed, play for the BCS title Jan. 7 against Alabama .
And style points don't win you national championships, anyways.
Unfortunately for McCoy, however, style points do factor in to winning a Heisman.
McCoy's near-blunder Saturday was as shocking as it was inexcusable for a four-year starter.
McCoy said after the game that he wasn't concerned about time.
"When we got the play call in there, it was 15 seconds left," McCoy told reporters. "So I wasn't worried about it. If I would have gotten the edge, I would have run for a couple, gotten Hunter in the middle and called timeout..."
"I figured we'd have one or two seconds left. When I saw everybody rushing the field I thought, there's no way. We've got one or two seconds left."
Okay, Colt. We believe you. You had everything under control.
But why in the world would you let the clock tick that close to zero before releasing the ball? Why take the chance that time might run out—or that the officials would fail to properly review the play?
Clearly, McCoy lost track of time, if only for a second. But it was a second that could have cost him and his team everything.
Texas had a title wrapped up and, despite an unimpressive performance (184 yards, O TD, 3 INT), McCoy still likely remained the Heisman front-runner.
And it's that fact that made that surprising second so unthinkable. Players like McCoy just don't make mistakes like that.
With Heisman ballots due from voters just a day later, McCoy should have had a moment of coronation Saturday night. Instead, the final image burned into voters' minds was that of a near historic blown opportunity.
In comparison, for Alabama's Mark Ingram, voters' last memory was a 189-yard, three TD performance in an SEC championship victory over Florida.
For Stanford's Toby Gerhart, it was a 205-yard, four-score day against Notre Dame .
For Florida's Tim Tebow, it was... actually, never mind on that one.
And for Nebraska's Ndamukong Suh, it will be pressuring another Heisman contender into making a near-fatal mistake.
The only question remaining is whether the final memory of McCoy's one-second slip-up Saturday night is enough to outweigh a masterful season.
In today's world of instant results and overreaction, it's possible that one play could cost Colt McCoy the Heisman.
The good news for McCoy, of course, is that his season is not done yet.
And Heisman or no Heisman, he has a chance to make us all remember him as something else entirely—a national champion.
Just think of it as a "second" chance.