Nebraska-Texas: Recap of the "Rivalry"
This Saturday once again proved that Nebraska just can't beat Texas. The 20-13 Texas victory was the final chapter in this short-lived conference rivalry, which turned out to be a horror novel for Husker Nation.
No matter how the teams came into this game each year, Texas ended up on top in every single regular season meeting, as the only time Nebraska won in this matchup was the 1999 Big 12 Championship Game.
The most painful thing about these losses for Nebraska fans is that Texas only won by more than 10 points on one occasion, that being when Vince Young led the Longhorns to a 31-7 victory in 2003. The eight other losses were by an average of 4.25 points. Here's a recap of the debilitating losses that have hardened many Husker hearts.
1996 Big 12 Championship Game
Third-ranked Nebraska was the favorite over a then 7-4 Texas team. With just under eight minutes left in the game Nebraska held a four-point lead, but then James Brown found Wane McGarity for a 66-yard strike to give Texas the lead once again.
Add on a late Priest Holmes touchdown and you have a 27-37 Texas victory. Brown finished with a career-high 353 yards through the air, torching the vaunted Blackshirts. This was just a sign of things to come.
Texas at Nebraska, 1998
Nebraska entered its 1998 matchup with Texas with the nation's longest home winning streak at 47. Like the 1996 matchup, Nebraska was ranked higher and the favorite. That didn't mean anything to Texas as Major Applewhite got the Horns off to a 10-0 lead in the second quarter.
This game was the last of the count of Monte Christo, as he was replaced in the second quarter by freshman Eric Crouch who came in to bring life to a stagnant offense rushing for over 100 yards for the first time in his career, but it was too little too late.
Nebraska was not able to overcome the early deficit, losing 20-16 as the nation's longest home winning streak was snapped and Husker fans chanted "Heisman" praising Texas' Ricky Williams' performance.
Nebraska at Texas, 1999
The 1999 game in Austin may have been the most costly loss to the Nebraska program as it prevented the Huskers from playing in the national championship, although it can be argued that the loss in 1996 did the same thing.
Nebraska entered the second half with a 13-3 lead only to see it evaporate in the third quarter as Major Applewhite scorched the Blackshirts for 166 yards and two touchdowns in the second half as he went 8-9 passing.
Eric Crouch answered with a nine-yard touchdown run to give the Huskers a 20-17 fourth quarter lead, which was answered by an Applewhite touchdown pass to Mike Jones giving Texas a 24-20 lead, which would stand for the rest of the game.
1999 Big 12 Championship Game
Nebraska would get revenge for the regular season loss in 1999 by winning the Big 12 Championship Game 22-6 and holding Texas to 170 total yards and no offensive touchdowns.
The night was grand and glorious for Husker fans as it was the only time Big Red beat the Horns in Big 12 play.
It didn't matter though—the damage was already done. The regular season loss to Texas prevented the Huskers from capturing their sixth national title.
Texas at Nebraska, 2002
For the first time in conference rivalry history, Nebraska entered the 2002 game with Texas as the underdog. This was a game of offensive records. Jammal Lord rushed for a career-high 234 yards, Chris Simms threw for a career-best 419 yards and Roy Williams set a Texas record with 13 catches 161 yards.
Nebraska had the ball with time winding down in the fourth quarter. Instead of attempting the long field goal with Josh Brown, who missed from 48 and 49 yards out earlier in the game, Solich decided to go for it on fourth down. The pass was batted down and Texas escaped Memorial Stadium with another close victory.
Texas at Nebraska, 2006
Fifth-ranked Texas got all they could handle from the Huskers in the 2006 game in Lincoln. Brandon Jackson scored on the first play of the fourth quarter on a shovel pass from Zac Taylor. Texas answered back with a field goal.
Nebraska then scored on a trick play, as Marlon Lucky appeared to be running a sweep only to pull up and hit Nate Swift in the end zone. Nebraska went for two, but failed which turned out to be huge.
Texas had to punt on its next possession as the Blackshirts held their ground. All Nebraska had to do was get a first down and the game was over.
Taylor found Terrence Nunn in the middle of the field. It was enough for the first down and it looked like Nebraska was going to beat Texas for the first time in Big 12 season play, but then Aaron Ross made one heck of a play putting a helmet to the ball forcing a fumble.
McCoy then put the Horns in good field position and Ryan Bailey made his first career field goal attempt to give Texas the final edge as Nebraskans bitterly wept in the swirling snow.
Nebraska at Texas, 2007
The Huskers came into Austin in 2007 with a team that was already falling apart after dropping three straight conference games due to a defense that was lackluster at best.
Defensive coordinator Kevin Cosgrove did something against Texas that he failed to do all year: He blitzed the quarterback. Cosgrove didn’t just blitz to catch the Longhorns offguard—he blitzed almost every single down.
Texas was not prepared for this defensive package and Nebraska jumped to a 17-3 lead. It was the last time Sam Keller would be seen smiling while wearing a Nebraska uniform.
Texas finally adjusted for Cosgrove’s blitzing defense and Jamaal Charles exploded for 216 yards, in the fourth quarter. Nebraska responded with a Joe Ganz to Maurice Purify touchdown pass, but it wasn’t enough as Texas yet again beat Nebraska in a close one, 28-25.
2009 Big 12 Championship Game
Texas came into the 2009 Big 12 Championship Game ranked third looking for a win to advance to the national championship. Nebraska came in with a strong defense and a mediocre offense looking to spoil the Longhorns season.
This game was what Keith Jackson would call a “slobberknocker.”
Neither team was able to do much on offense. The Blackshirts gave the performance of the decade, led by Ndamukong Suh who had 4.5 sacks in the game while disrupting Texas’ offensive line all night. Heisman candidate Colt McCoy was held to 164 total yards, well below his average.
Suh gave such an inspiring performance that not only was McCoy’s shot at the Heisman ruined that night, but Suh himself garnered an invitation to New York next week as a Heisman finalist.
Well, as fans everywhere all know, the game ended on a controversial review of the clock that gave Texas an extra one second that was used to kick the game-winning field goal that snuck through the uprights by mere inches. Heartbreak, despair, and agony plagued Husker Nation.
The pain of Nebraska not beating a top-15 team since beating Oklahoma in 2001 sunk in, the anguish of not beating Texas since 1999 sunk in, and most of all losing the conference championship seconds after everyone thought the game was already over and won set in.
While this game did not damage the program as much as the 1999 regular season loss, this is the most painful of them all as it was as close as Nebraska ever got to beating Texas again while being in the Big 12.
Texas at Nebraska, 2010
Last Saturday Texas came to Memorial Stadium for the last time. It was a much-anticipated event. Lincoln was hopping even more that Saturday than usual. People were wearing all kinds of shirts from “:01 Redemption” to “Tuck Fexas” to many other explicit things.
Yes, believe it or not, some Nebraskans are human and not above the rest of the world in class.
Over two hours before the game, the entire student section was already full. Many people stood in the aisles the whole game while others stood where there were no seats. No one in the stadium cared that Texas was unranked coming off of two straight losses. Husker Nation knew that they were in for a dogfight, because as the record shows, Texas knows how to get the best of Nebraska.
All of this hype led to a huge letdown as Nebraska looked sloppy on both offense and defense. Dropped passes plagued the Huskers and derailed the offense from getting points on the board.
There was a glimmer of hope when Eric Hagg took a fake field goal-turned punt end zone to end zone to bring the Huskers within a possession of tying the game. But Texas recovered the ensuing onside kick and continued to run the ball at will picking first downs and running out the clock.
Texas had once again humbled the Huskers. Nebraska was looking like it was just getting back to the good old days. The team had a top-five ranking for the first time since 2001 and several analysts were picking Nebraska to run the table and play in the national championship game. For now, those days will again have to wait due to Texas.
The dominance that Texas has showed over Nebraska should make Nebraska fans feel even better about leaving the conference. Even though Nebraska has a much tougher schedule next year, it isn’t far-fetched to say that the Huskers have a better shot of going undefeated next year due to the fact they don’t have to play Texas.
Both times Nebraska has played in the national championship since being in the Big 12 they did not have to play Texas (1997-98, 2001-02). If Nebraska had to play Texas in 1997 there is no telling whether or not Nebraska would have sent Osborne out as a champion. Even though in 1997 Nebraska was a far superior team to Texas, it would be unwise to assume that Nebraska would have steamrolled Texas giving the history of this "rivalry."
Which, can we even call it a rivalry?
Texas went 9-1 against Nebraska in Big 12 play. The only team in the Big 12 that Nebraska has that high of a win percentage against is Baylor, and Nebraskans sure as hell don’t consider that a rivalry.
Nebraska will not play Texas again while being a member of the Big 12 Conference. Instead of mourning, Husker Nation should be rejoicing at this. While many of the defeats were bitter, at least the defeats will be no more. So here’s to the Big Ten and moving on. God clearly blessed Texas since they left the Southwest and joined the Big 12, so hopefully Nebraska can receive some grace after bouncing conferences as well.
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