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Nebraska squandered opportunity at Texas-sized revenge
Texas coach Mack Brown designed a masterful game plan on Saturday, filled with surprise and intrigue, that catapulted unranked Texas to a 20-13 victory over BCS title-hopeful Nebraska.
Texas had to be thinking after this game, "Goodbye, Cornhuskers. Have fun in your new conference starting next season. We'll surely miss you." This was Nebraska's chance to finally beat Texas in movie-scripted fashion. The Big Ten-bound Huskers could have triumphed in the two teams' final clash until lord knows when, and ridden into the sunset, waving goodbye to those unequal revenue-sharing Longhorns.
Didn't happen. Why? The simplest reason: Texas owns Nebraska.
Let's just call it like it is.
Since the Big 12's inception 14 years ago, Texas has beaten Nebraska nine times in 10 meetings.
Nebraska couldn't have asked for more favorable circumstances on Saturday.
The Huskers entered the game undefeated and ranked No. 5 in the country. If there was any time to topple the two-loss Longhorns, it was this season. Nebraska was a 9.5-point favorite.
The game was played in Lincoln, where 85,648 fans packed the place in a sea of red.
Nebraska's regular season was designed around this game. Their coaches and players will never admit that, but it's beyond obvious.
Before the season, the Nebraska athletic department released a video hyping the tradition and lofty expectations of the team. The video initially ended with "Be loud. Wear Red. Beat Texas." You won't find the "Beat Texas" part in the video anymore because officials decided to take it out shortly after its release. Too late.
They were loud and they definitely wore red. But for the ninth time in 10 tries, they didn't beat Texas.
Instead, the Huskers likely eliminated themselves from BCS Championship contention.
Instead, the Huskers dropped seven passes against Texas. Three of those drops could have been touchdowns.
Instead, Nebraska's quasi-Heisman contender Taylor Martinez, who ran rampant against seemingly everyone, played so poorly that he was benched in favor of Zac Lee.
Brown's deceptive fingerprints were all over this game. For the first time all season, Brown designed runs for quarterback Garrett Gilbert. How can you possibly game plan for that? The sophomore had only rushed for 14 yards all season. On Saturday against Nebraska, Gilbert ran for 71 yards, more than double the rushing total of Martinez, and scored twice.
The Big 12 will undoubtedly lose one of its traditional, football-rich superpowers when Nebraska leaves for the Big Ten next season. When it comes to beating Texas, though, Nebraska has fallen short of living up to expectations more times than not in the Big 12 era.
Here's the latest episode of Conference ChatterTV, where I react on my predictions of picking Big 12 games in week 7:
Moving on to week 7 awards, for those who went above and beyond in the Big 12 this past weekend:
Player of the week: Justin Blackmon, WR, Oklahoma State.
Can anyone cover this guy? The sophomore continued his assault on secondaries with 10 catches, 207 yards and a touchdown against Texas Tech. Oklahoma State remains undefeated and one of the biggest surprises in the conference this season.
Blackmon leads the country by a long shot with 169 yards per game (next closest is Hawaii's Greg Salas with 130 yards per game). He also leads the country with 12 TD grabs. Since Nebraska's Martinez fell off the Heisman map after this weekend, Blackmon may be the Big 12's leading candidate.
Looking ahead: Upcoming game of the week: No. 3 Oklahoma at No. 18 Missouri.
Apparently, ESPN agrees. College GameDay will make its way to Columbia, Mo. for the showdown between undefeated 6-0 squads. Oklahoma is a 3.5-point favorite.
Oklahoma opened at No. 1 in the first BCS poll of the season and is the Big 12's only hope of landing a team in the BCS Championship this season. Missouri is No. 11 in the BCS.
The following is the latest edition of the Sorrentino Scale. The number that follows in parentheses is what the team was ranked last week:
1 (1). Oklahoma (6-0): Sooners class of the Big 12 to this point.
2 (3). Oklahoma State (6-0): Showdown vs. Nebraska next week in Stillwater, Okla.
3 (4). Missouri (6-0): Tigers could have best defense in Big 12.
4 (5). Texas (4-2): No one wants to play 'Horns right now.
5 (2). Nebraska (5-1): Huskers have Tigers to deal with for North title.
6 (6). Kansas State (5-1): Interesting game at Baylor next weekend.
7 (9). Baylor (5-2): One more win for first bowl appearance since 1994.
8 (7). Texas A&M (3-3): Aggies' offense looked stagnant against Missouri.
9 (8). Texas Tech (3-3): Really could have used a home win vs. Oklahoma State.
10 (10). Colorado (3-3): Not looking good.
11 (11). Iowa State (3-4): 0-3 on road this year.
12 (12). Kansas (2-4): My comment last week in this spot: 'Victory over K-State could get Jayhawks out of scale cellar.' So much for that.
That should be all for now, friends. As always, discuss.