Texas vs. Nebraska: Best Big 12 Match-up Ever?

 

Texas is 8-1 against Nebraska since the formation of the Big 12 in 1996. This Saturday being the last in-conference meeting (at least for the foreseeable future) between the two college football giants, let's look at seven of the best Big 12 meetings between the Longhorns and Cornhuskers.

Seven of the nine games since 1996 have been decided by 10 points or fewer. One could argue that the Texas-Nebraska series has been the best match-up between two teams in the history of the Big 12. The two games not included below are the 1999 Big 12 Championship (22-6, Nebraska) and the 2003 game (31-7, Texas), a.k.a., The Vince Young Debut.

 

Texas 37, #3 Nebraska 27

Inaugural Big 12 Championship Game

Dec. 7, 1996

St. Louis, Mo.

Unranked Texas was a0 three-touchdown underdog to No. 3 Nebraska in the first Big 12 Championship Game. The Cornhuskers were positioning themselves for a national championship, but the resilient Longhorns shocked the nation with a 37-27 win.

Quarterback James Brown had a career-best 353 yards passing plus 120 rushing yards and three touchdowns. Texas opened the game with an 80-yard scoring drive. The teams traded field goals and touchdowns for most of the second quarter, and Nebraska took a 27-23 lead in the fourth quarter. Texas answered on a 66-yard Wayne McGarity touchdown, but the key play came in the with just 2:48 seconds remaining.

Up 30-27 and on their own 28-yard line, the Longhorns set up for a fourth-and-inches play. Staying aggressive, Brown faked a run, rolled out to his left and hit tight end Derek Lewis for a 61-yard gain. With the ball on the Nebraska 11-yard line, running back Priest Holmes scored on the next play. Texas won its third-consecutive conference title with the win and earned a trip to the Fiesta Bowl where they lost to Penn State.

Six more games after the jump - all of which were decided by no more than four points.

 

Texas 20, #7 Nebraska 16

Oct. 31, 1998

Lincoln, Neb.

Nebraska was on an incredible 47-game home winning streak. Ricky Williams was orchestrating his Heisman Trophy-winning season, but was facing Nebraska's famous Black Shirts defense, which was allowing just a little more than 100 rushing yards per game.

The Longhorns got on top early, scoring a touchdown on their first possession. They controlled the first half and held on to a 10-3 halftime lead. Nebraska of course put up a fight and took a 13-10 lead in the third quarter. Early in the fourth quarter, Major Applewhite hit receiver Brian White on a 75-yard play. Kris Stockton nailed a 19-yard field goal to tie the game at 13.

The Cornhuskers added a field goal of their own with more than eight minutes remaining in the game. With the score tied, Texas set up on its own 15-yard line. It was third down at the Texas 35-yard line when White came up with a 37-yard catch down the sidelines. On third down, Applewhite found Wayne McGarity for the go-head touchdown. Texas held on for the win, giving Williams a great performance (150 yards) to add to his Heisman resume. The Texas defense stole Nebraska's thunder by holding them to more than 100 yards below their season average.


 

#18 Texas 24, #3 Nebraska 20

Oct. 23, 1999

Austin, Texas

A year after Texas snapped Nebraska's 47-game home win streak, the match-up moved to Austin, but the Cornhuskers had risen to the No. 3 team in the country. It was a field goal fest for most of the first half. Nebraska got the ball back just before halftime, and running back Correll Buckhalter scored on a 5-yard run. Nebraska took a 13-3 lead.

Texas pinned Nebraska on their opening drive of the second half and went on offense with a short field in front of them. It took just three plays to score, cutting the Cornhusker lead to three. The teams traded possessions until Texas got rolling with three passes from Major Applewhite to Kwame Cavil, the last of which was a 13-yard touchdown. Texas lead 17-13.

Nebraska came back in the fourth quarter with an Eric Crouch touchdown run, putting them back on top 20-17. However, the Longhorns answered on the next drive. Applewhite hit Ryan Nunez for a 39-yard gain down to the Nebraska 21. Three plays later Applewhite found Mike Jones for a 17-yard score. Texas held on a fourth down play on the next drive.

It was the third win against a top-10 Nebraska team in four years. A few weeks later Texas lost to the Cornhuskers in the Big 12 Championship Game.

 

#7 Texas 27, Nebraska 24

Nov. 2, 2002

Lincoln, Neb.

Nebraska was orchestrating another home winning streak, this one stretching a national best 24 games. Senior Chris Simms passed for 419 yards, and Nebraska QB Jammal Lord rushed for 254 yards. But it was corner back Nathan Vasher coming up with the game-clenching interception at the 1-yard line to give Texas the win.

The teams traded field goals in the first half, but the third quarter saw three touchdowns-two by Texas and one my Nebraska. The Cornhuskers reached the end zone first, but the Longhorns responded with two Roy Williams catches of 16 and 2 yards to make the score 20-10 in favor of the Burnt Orange.

Nebraska opened the fourth quarter with a 60-yard touchdown pass to close the Texas lead to three. Later Texas was able to put together an 81-yard drive that ended with a Cedric Benson run to the end zone. But Nebraska scored again about a minute later. Texas had to punt deep in its own territory on the next drive, which set Nebraska up at the UT 16 with less than a minute left. Two plays later Vasher came up with the big pick to seal the win.

It was Nebraska's second home loss since 1991.

 

#5 Texas 22, #17 Nebraska 20

Oct. 21, 2006

Lincoln, Neb.

Texas was up to a No. 5 ranking with its redshirt freshman quarterback Colt McCoy. But it was back-up kicker Ryan Bailey who was the hero, kicking the game-winning field goal with give Texas the 22-20 win.

Nebraska was actually trying to kill the clock late in the fourth quarter with a 20-19 lead when Terrence Nunn fumbled, giving Texas a new hope inside Cornhusker territory. Bailey was called upon to win the game, and with the first kick in his college career, nailed a 22-yarder.

Texas controlled most of the game, leading 16-7 into the fourth quarter. Running back Brandon Jackson took a short pass 49 yards to the end zone. Texas kicked a field goal, but Nebraska would not go away. With less than 5 minutes remaining, the Cornhuskers scored on a halfback pass, taking the 20-19 lead. Texas was unable to move the ball on the next drive and punted back to Nebraska. Then came the fumble and game-winning kick by the previously unknown Ryan Bailey.

 

#19 Texas 28, Nebraska 25

Oct. 27, 2007

Austin, Texas

It was the Jamaal Charles show in the fourth quarter. The speedy back ripped off touchdown runs of 25, 86 and 40 yards to give a sluggish Longhorns offense life. Charles ran for 216 yards in the final quarter alone.

Nebraska led 17-3 early in the third quarter. Ryan Bailey kicked two field goals to keep Texas in the game. Then Charles got lose. Texas put up 25 points in a little more than a quarter of play. Nebraska scored once more late in the fourth quarter, but it wasn't enough.

 

#3 Texas 13, #21 Nebraska 12

2009 Big 12 Championship Game

Dec. 5, 2009

Arlington, Texas

Just one thing stood in the way of Texas and a Big 12 Championship, not to mention the right to play for the National Championship-a scrappy Nebraska team that was allowing just 11 points per game. The Texas offense was in a battle all night, but the defense was superb, holding the Cornhuskers to just over 100 yards of offense and not allowing a touchdown. But in the end, Texas called on some last-second heroics by kicker Hunter Lawrence.

With the Texas offense struggling, the Cornhuskers got on the scoreboard with two field goals. Texas finally got some rhythm in the second quarter, and Colt McCoy punched it in for the game's only touchdown to give Texas the 7-6 lead. Texas kicked a field goal in the third quarter, but Nebraska added two field goals to take a 12-10 lead.

McCoy, who was sacked nine times in the game, tried to gain a few more yards to set up a field goal, but nearly ran out the clock doing so. A booth review determined there was one second left in the game, which gave Lawrence the chance to hit the game-winning kick from 46 yards out. The ball hugged the left upright, but sailed through to send the Longhorns to the BCS National Championship Game.    

 

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