When the clock strikes midnight on Thursday and the calendar flips to July, the Big 12 -- the version of the Big 12 actually including 12 teams -- will be no more with the departure of Nebraska to the Big 10 and Colorado to the former Pac-10.
As a result, it's time to reminisce.
Once upon a time, Nebraska fans had the reputation of being friendly Midwestern hosts, buoyed by a famous standing ovation for Ricky Williams in Lincoln following a 1998 game in which the Longhorns ended the 47-game home winning streak by the 'Huskers. Once upon a time.
In recent years, the rivalry has become much more acrimonious, building in intensity following the 2009 Big 12 championship game when officials added the infamous one second to the clock that allowed Hunter Lawrence to guide his 46-yard field goal attempt just inside the upright to send the Longhorns to Pasadena.
Then, less than a year later, during the realignment of 2010, Nebraska bolted the Big 12 for the Big 10, with some in the administration disingenuously blaming Texas for the move, even though it was the decision by Deloss Dodds to stay in the Big 12 that ultimately ended up keeping the league together.
Finally, in October, the terrible 2010 football season hit its only high point with an upset victory of the heavily-favored 'Huskers in Lincoln in front of a decidedly unfriendly crowd not inclined to give a standing ovation under any circumstances. The acrimony continued into the basketball season, when Nebraska fans discovered the sport long enough to inspire an upset victory of their own those fans no doubt would have traded in a second to erase the memories of all those embarrassing losses in football.
Speaking of those embarrassing losses, here are a few golden memories for Longhorn fans through the years that the burnt orange faithful will cherish as the 'Huskers toil on frozen tundras and make the trips to exotic locales like West Lafayette and frigid Minneapolis. So yeah, have fun with that, Children of the Corn.
1996 -- Texas 37, #3 Nebraska 27
Entering the inaugural Big 12 championship game as three-touchdown underdogs, the Longhorns began their dominance of Nebraska during the existence of the league with a stunning upset highlighted by one of the most famous plays in Texas football history -- "Roll Left," two words that need no further description for most diehard orangebloods.
On fourth and inches from the Texas 28 yardline holding onto a 30-27 lead with less than three minutes remaining in the game, coach John Mackovic opted to go for it, hoping to seal the victory. Quarterback James Brown faked the handoff to Priest Holmes and rolled left before lofting a pass downfield to a wide-open Derek Lewis for a 61-yard completion that led to a Holmes touchdown run to seal the victory and the first Big 12 championship.
1998 -- Texas 20, #7 Nebraska 16
Back in the days before Nebraska fans became sore losers, Mack Brown's first Texas team marched into Lincoln and used strong performances from Major Applewhite and Ricky Williams to upend the highly-ranked 'Huskers. It was a game that helped endear Mack Brown to Longhorn fans, secure Major Applewhite's place in Texas lore, and vault Williams to his Heisman trophy victory.
1999 -- #18 Texas 24, #3 Nebraska 20
Three Nebraska fumbles helped negate a huge disparity in total yards -- 429 to 275 -- and two late touchdown passes by Major Applewhite helped the Longhorns end 'Husker hopes for an undefeated season. Later that evening, Longhorn superfan Matthew McConaughey was infamously arrested for playing his bongos naked.
2002 -- #7 Texas 27, Nebraska 24
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.
2003 -- #16 Texas 31, #12 Nebraska 7
Though this was something of an upset -- and certainly the final score was surprising -- this game was important for historical reasons not because it was a dramatic or series-defining win, but because of the ramifications that the game had for the Texas program. More importantly, the ramifications the game had for one, Vince Young.
The resounding defeat of Nebraska at DKR marked the debut of what would become the signature play of the Vince Young era -- the zone read. The 'Horns racked up more than 350 yards rushing using the play that day and would use it to great effect the following two seasons on the way to back-to-back victories in Pasadena.
2006 -- #5 Texas 22, #17 Nebraska 20
On a cold, snowy late October day in Lincoln -- the first collegiate game for Colt McCoy outside the friendly confines of the Lone Star State -- the Longhorns pulled off a dramatic victory, highlighted by Aaron Ross putting his helmet on a football carried by Nebraska wide receiver Terrance Nunn as the 'Husker wideout tried to get to the ground to pick up what would have been a game-clinching first down.
Aaron Ross Forced Fumble Against Nebraska (via TerranceSchaefer)
Instead, Ross knocked the ball loose and Texas recovered, setting the stage for an unlikely hero -- walk-on kicker Ryan Bailey. In one of my personal favorite quotes, Justin Blalock admitted after the game that the real football players didn't hang out with the kickers and that he might not have been able to pick Bailey out of a lineup. Nevertheless, Bailey earned his place in Longhorn history by calmly knocking through the 22-yard field goal.
Ryan Bailey game winner vs. NU 2006 (via muzz33)
2007 -- #19 Texas 28, Nebraska 25
As the Bill Callahan era neared its ignominious end, the former Oakland Raider coach had little to lose, dailing up blitzes on roughly 90% of the plays Texas ran. For most of the game, it worked, as the 'Huskers held a 17-3 lead early in the third quarter against an anemic Texas offense.
It took an injury to Colt McCoy late in the to ignite Texas and return the zone read to the glory days the play enjoyed with Vince Young. John Chiles replaced McCoy and Charles picked up 25 yards on the way to 216 yards in the quarter and 290 on the day, including an 86-yard touchdown run that helped Texas take the lead for the first time.
McCoy had seemingly never been confident keeping the ball and making plays with his feet on the zone read, but was able to effectively use the play as a weapon for the rest of his career. Meanwhile, after a slow start to the season, Charles finally hit his stride following that game and ran wild for the rest of the season, dominating the final five games on the ground.
2009 -- #3 Texas 13, #21 Nebraska 12
Aided by a terrible Nebraska offense (we love you Zac Lee!), the Longhorns converted three short fields to score, managing to pull out an ugly victory against the dominant 'Husker defense led by Ndamukong Suh, who ran wild through the Texas offensive line at Jerry World. Still, the Longhorns were able to pull out the Big 12 championship and punched a ticket to Pasadena once again because of Hunter Lawrence's 46-yard field goal as the clock expired. For the second and final time.
Texas Game Winning Field Goal Wins the Big 12 Championship vs. Nebraska (via tclarktpc)
2010 -- Texas 20, #5 Nebraska 13
Nebraska fans immediately circled this game as the school's last chance at revenge on Texas for not only the Big 12 championship game, but for all the heartbreaking losses administered by the boys in burnt orange throughout the history of the conference.
Unfortunately for those 'Husker fans, Texas actually decided to show up in Lincoln in mid-October. With a gameplan. A gameplan actually tailored to take advantage of the opponent. Genius!
It worked, as Garrett Gilbert used his legs to great effect and managed not to throw 98 interceptions in the game and the Texas defense rose up for one of the only times all season to slow down Taylor Martinez and a Nebraska offense that had run over, through, and around every other opponent on the schedule to that point in the season.
In a lost season for Texas, the victory over Nebraska represented the one and only high point.
Don't let the door hit y'all on the way out
Perhaps it's understandable that Nebraska fans slowly began to hate Texas during the existence of the Big 12. After all, the Longhorns were instrumental in taking away partial qualifiers -- a backbone of the Nebraska football program in the Big 8. The 'Horns also dealt the 'Huskers nine defeats in 10 games. With little experience losing, perhaps it's no wonder Tom Osborne and his hordes of corn-cob wearing minions became sore losers.
But that doesn't make it acceptable. The schools aren't likely to play again any time soon in football, so there's nothing left to say except this:
Oh yeah, and also to ask the burnt orange faithful to share their favorite victory over Nebraska during the existence of the Big 12.