There were 14 minutes and 57 seconds left in Houston's game against Cincinnati on Thursday, and the Bearcats had a four-point lead. Then Houston won by 24 freaking points.
The Cougars likely need to go 13-0 with a win in the American's championship game to make the College Football Playoff. That could've all ended Thursday when Nippert Stadium started to rock and the Bearcats had the Cougars on a no-doubt-about-it upset alert. And then they didn't, because Houston found another level that other AAC teams don't have.
Here's what happened after Cincinnati took its first lead on the very first play of the fourth quarter:
1. Houston mounted a nine-play 71-yard touchdown drive. Houston took back the lead.
2. Houston mounted an 11-play, 60-yard touchdown drive, making a three-point lead 10.
3. Cincinnati threw a pick-six.
4. Cincinnati threw an encore pick-six:
That was the second of two interception touchdown returns in a span of exactly seven seconds. Houston turned a four-point deficit into a 24-point win with 28 points in a period of slightly more than 11 minutes.
Cincinnati was in this thing for a while. An altogether weird first half ended with a 10-10 score, and Cincinnati grabbed its brief, sole lead on a Hayden Moore touchdown throw to Nate Cole at the start of the fourth quarter.
"Could Houston actually lose this thing?" was a serious, legitimate thought that many people might've had.
It didn't work out that way.
The Cougars' Playoff dreams are alive, and they are kicking.
Houston pretty quickly shed whatever worries were building about it over the course of the game. The Cougars are still very much in the Playoff discussion, and they also get another win to show off to a potentially expanding Big 12.
A final from Nippert: pic.twitter.com/FFm4h8LlXC— Steven Godfrey (@38Godfrey) September 16, 2016