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P.S.R. Op-Ed

Texas Continues to Own Nebraska

Texas has staked its orange flag in Nebraska's territory: we own you, say the Longhorns.

It’s Texas’s world. Nebraska’s just living in it. It’s a good thing the Cornhuskers are departing for the Big Ten: if this year’s team couldn’t beat a U.T. team coming off losses to U.C.L.A. and Oklahoma, it’s never going to happen. If not now, never. All the “save the date” reminders, the massively-circulated videos, the hype and the talk, nothing has changed — Texas owns Nebraska, has for the better part of a generation. That’s the lasting message Nebraska can take from this game: you may be leaving the Big 12, but you won’t leave on top. That’s a bitter pill for this program to swallow, right?

Let’s give a hand to the Nebraska receiver corps. Actually, let’s give them a pair of hands — they need them. Eight drops, if we’re being kind, at least three that would have been for scores. A fourth, a throw to Niles Paul in the corner of the end zone, would have been a tough catch — it still should have been caught.

Zac Lee’s late-game insertion provided this offense with a tremendous boost. Brandon Kinnie, another much-maligned receiver, dropped a deep post on a late fourth down try that would have cut the Texas lead to 20-13. Not that it mattered; Texas was in control all the way, from the opening minute to the last, and there was nothing Nebraska could do about it.

Save the “added second” talk; there was no controversy about U.T.’s win. This was as thorough a victory you’ll see between two strong teams: it was all Longhorns, in each facet of the game.

Special teams: Texas returned the first punt of the game into Nebraska territory, setting up an early field goal. Nebraska proved unable to figure out the Texas punting game until late in the second half, when Paul was finally ordered to run up and field the punt in the air, not allow it bounce past him down near his own goal line. Better late than never, I suppose.

Nebraska did strike gold with roughly three minutes remaining, returning a Texas pooch kick 95 yards for a touchdown. In that case, Texas out-thought itself; better to run a straight punt, or try the field goal, than try to outwit the Cornhuskers. To be fair, I give Eric Hagg more credit than the Nebraska coaching staff; that was athleticism, not coaching.

Offensively, Texas did what most teams have been able to do on this vaunted Nebraska defense all season: run the ball. Surprisingly, Texas did it with quarterback Garrett Gilbert, running the type of misdirection plays that Colt McCoy performed to such great results during his four years in Austin. Nebraska’s Heisman contender, Taylor Martinez, is no longer just that: his Heisman dreams are dead, likely to be resuscitated next fall.

The Longhorns dictated the tempo defensively. Yes, the Cornhuskers still got the job done, by and large. The holes were there, however, particularly in the early going: it took Nebraska a solid portion of the first half to slow down Gilbert out of the backfield. When Bo Pelini put the right game plan in place, Texas was limited to very little offensively.

On the other hand, Texas never allowed the Nebraska offense to get off the ground. Yes, Nebraska did have at least three scores come back due to drops. Such talk is ridiculous: it’s along the same line of complaining about the extra second — it’s easy to argue about whether you should of won.

Credit Texas in this regard: they weren’t intimidated in the least. Not in the least. The Lincoln crowd was loud in the first quarter, quieter in the second, extremely quiet in the third, dead in the fourth — minus the punt return. It wasn’t quite the wonderful home environment many expected it to be — people like me, for instance.

Ten months in the making, the game turned out to be a dud. It’s as if nothing has changed: Texas still owns Nebraska. The Cornhuskers can take that with them to the Big Ten. What makes the game all the more distressing for Nebraska is the importance the program placed upon a victory. Note to the Cornhuskers: in the future, let’s just take it one game at a time. And when it comes to Texas, don’t bite off more than you can chew.

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  1. Tad says:

    “That’s the lasting message Nebraska can take from this game: you may be leaving the Big 12, but you won’t leave on top.”

    Ummm…Last I checked, Nebraska still controls their own destiny here…Still a favorite to play in the Big 12 Title Game which, if won, would allow them leave the Big 12 on top.

    They still have to live with the fact that they suckle Texas’ nether regions…but they have a much better chance of winning the conference than Texas at this point.

  2. Jason Gardner says:

    At least we now know what the N on Nebraska’s football helmets stands for. –Not back yet.

  3. DaU!!!! says:

    I guess Texas still can swim in the sea of red….

  4. Rick says:

    As a Husker fan, I am disgusted by the game yesterday. However, despite the porous run defense and field position throughout the game, if Paul or Burkhead make the catches like they should, the Huskers win the game. If they can make the necessary adjustments, I would love to see the Huskers play, and beat, Texas in the Big XII championship.

  5. BloggingBevo says:

    Nice article. It would be fun to meet up yet again. Rick- You and everyone seems to be forgetting that Texas also dropped two touchdown passes. If Niles Paul can say, “If we’d made those catches we’d have won!” then Malcolm Williams could say, “If we’d made those catches we’d have won by three touchdowns!” You could also say it should have been a 20-6 win if Tucker just kicks it out of bounds like he was supposed to. That wasn’t a bad call, it was execution. Maybe the safest thing would have been to line up in regular punt formation and just boom it out of the enzone.

  6. LVHusker says:

    I still hate Texas. Some things never change.

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