Nebraska Falls to Texas Hex Again
This summer, the university released a video asking fans to "Wear Red. Be Loud. Beat Texas." A Nebraska fan also posted a YouTube video detailing his trip from halfway around the world so he could see his Huskers beat Texas.
On Saturday, the lead story on the front page of the Omaha World-Herald quoted grandmas that wanted to mess with Texas. "We have freedom of speech and I can tell you I don't like Texas," 90-year old Mayme Stanfield said.
Since losing to Texas in the Big 12 title game last December, Nebraska fans have waited for Oct. 16 to arrive so they could exact their revenge on the Longhorns.
Nebraska's chance for revenge finally arrived on a beautiful Saturday afternoon and the Cornhuskers promptly laid a big fat egg. Texas defeated Nebraska 20-13 as the Cornhuskers managed only two field goals and a 95-yard punt return by Eric Hagg with 3:02 remaining.
A week after scorching Kansas State for 48 points, Nebraska was held without an offensive touchdown at home for the first time in 42 years, since losing in Memorial Stadium 12-0 to Kansas State in 1968.
"Some of the things that have been hurting us, hurt us today -- worse," Nebraska coach Bo Pelini said. "Football comes down to playing the right way. We didn't play the right way. We didn't get it done. We got beat."
The Cornhuskers were held to 202 yards on offense, they dropped at least seven passes -- three would have been touchdowns -- and, for good measure, committed 10 penalties. The final penalty was for 12 men on the field with 1:02 remaining giving Texas a first down on third-and-1, allowing the Longhorns to run out the clock.
"We're not the finished product," Pelini said. "I said it all along. People around here want to make us out like the '85 Bears. We're not there yet, we're getting there."
The offense sputtered so much that Taylor "T-Magic" Martinez was pulled in the second half. Martinez, who zoomed up several Heisman Trophy watch lists after last week's performance at Kansas State, just as quickly will disappear from next week's Heisman watch lists.
Martinez refused to speak to reporters after being limited to 21 yards on 13 carries and completing only four of 12 passes for 63 yards.
Pelini said he replaced Martinez with Zac Lee because he "wanted to provide a spark."
All afternoon long, the No. 5-ranked Cornhuskers looked lethargic or a step slow. It was almost as if they had spent so much time and effort into getting back at Texas when kickoff finally arrived they had nothing left.
"I don't put anything on it like they wanted it too bad," Pelini said. "You have to channel your emotions in the right direction and execute. That didn't happen."
Besides last year's 13-12 controversial loss in the Big 12 title game, Texas had ripped Nebraska's heart out on several other occasions.
In 1996, Nebraska was a 21-point favorite, but lost to Texas in the Big 12 title game, costing the Cornhuskers a third consecutive national title. In 1998, Nebraska was a 17-point favorite, but lost to Texas, ending NU's 47-game home winning streak.
In 1999, Nebraska's only loss was against -- you guessed it -- Texas 24-20. In 2002, the Longhorns' 27-24 victory snapped Nebraska's 27-game home winning streak, the nation's longest at the time.
Since 1993, every Huskers senior class endured at least one last-minute loss to Texas.
Entering Saturday's game, the Longhorns had lost consecutive games to UCLA and Oklahoma. Yet they had an extra week to prepare for Nebraska. That wasn't expected to be a problem, Nebraska running backs coach Tim Beck revealed Friday morning.
Speaking at the weekly Big Red Breakfast where fans pay $25 to attend, Beck provided some insight into the Huskers' mindset for the Texas game.
"Maybe I shouldn't say this," Beck said. "But everybody always wants to talk to us (and say) 'Well, Coach, what do you think? Mack Brown and Texas -- they've had two weeks to prepare. They're going to be ready.' I said, 'Boys we've been preparing for 10 months."
The Cornhuskers might as well have had 10 years to prepare because it wouldn't have mattered. Texas coach Mack Brown has coached against Nebraska nine times. He's won eight.
Pelini said the Cornhuskers' goal of winning the Big 12 remains alive.
"We're not going to do that unless we look in the mirror like men and take responsibility for what happened out on that field today and get better because of it," Pelini said. "We'll let the fans and everybody else feel sorry for themselves and feel sorry for what happened; you have to take an experience like this and let it make you stronger.
"If we do that, we'll respond in the right way."
How Nebraska will respond is the biggest unknown.
In Saturday's Omaha World-Herald, long-time columnist Tom Shatel wrote: "Oct. 16, 2010, will either be one of the greatest days in a Nebraska fan's memory. Or one of the worst. There's no in-between. Afterward, you'll either keep the game program or heave it in the nearest trash can."
If that's the case, there was a lot of over-flowing trash cans on Saturday night in Lincoln.
Brett McMurphy is a national college football writer for FanHouse. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org or please follow at Twitter.com/BrettmcmurphY