At the end of the first quarter, many of those Texas fans that had a lot to say before the game started had watched Colt McCoy throw two interceptions and trail Nebraska, 6-0. There weren't a lot of words at that point. Many had actually chosen a new place to stand.
That was one of four quarters. It was a moral victory if anything. At the end of regulation, the scoreboard read 12-10 until a review of the last play and if there should be any time left on the clock led the officials to putting one second back on the clock.
Nebraska knows how close they got last year. So close to that championship. So close to beating Texas. Yes, a victory against Texas carries with it a value in itself that few conference foes provide. Mostly because of their success or luck against the Huskers.
There are a lot of things that I will be paying attention to Saturday afternoon in Memorial Stadium, but here are some key storylines and matchups:
1. How far will it go? Last year, there was a special video before the Oklahoma game. Already, Nebraska has revealed the "Red Out Around the World" campaign that initially named Texas in the video and still takes place on the day that Nebraska plays Texas. What else is in store? Another video? Alumni? My fear is that you put too much out there and the outcome doesn't turn out the way Husker fans want it. It's kind of got a "Game of the Century II" feel to it regardless of Texas not being rated or having two losses already. It's over-hyped just like that. I am hoping for less flash and more substance, personally.
2. Unstoppable force meets an immovable object – Yes, it's overstating to call Nebraska's rush offense an "unstoppable force" and Texas' rush defense an "immovable object", but its close. Nebraska has the #2 rushing offense in the nation averaging 337.6 yards per game, 7.74 yards per rush and has scored 21 touchdowns rushing. Texas has the #19 rushing defense allowing just 104 yards per game, 2.63 yards per rush and just seven touchdowns. This will easily be each team's best opponent in these areas this season. The Huskers are averaging 41.6 points per game while Texas is only allowing 20 points per game.
3. Deep, one on one coverage with NUs CBs and UTs WRs - Count on Texas to take some shots down the field. In the dime there are some times that Texas will get a CB isolated, man to man, with a Texas WR. Nebraska's bend but don't break defense up-front in the dime is dependent on the success of their cornerbacks in man to man. There are going to be some great match-ups and battles. This will be a true test, even for a Texas team which is 53rd in the nation and only averaging 230 yards per game and a #1 passing efficiency defense for Nebraska only averaging 83.06 yards per game against.
Three players/positions to watch:
1. Taylor Martinez - He's been calm and cool in the saddle for the most part of the whole season so far. This game has lost some luster, but still remains a revenge game for Nebraska and critical for the Huskers to stay on the path of getting to a BCS Bowl game in January. Martinez will not have seen team speed on the defensive side of the ball like he will see against Texas. He's averaging nearly 11 yards per carry and 147.4 yards per game. How close can he stay to those averages?
2. LaVonte David - Yes, he's raw, but wow is he athletic and aggressive. I honestly believe that Nebraska's dime defense this year is actually better than the dime defense that Nebraska was able to put on the field last year. That is really saying something, but it's also a big credit to David. Phillip Dillard was excellent in the dime last year, but what he seemed to bring to the table in physical ability he did lack in overall athleticism. No, he wasn't a bad athlete, it's just that David is that much better of an athlete than he was. David will have to be a rock in the middle of the field this Saturday.
3. Roy Helu/Rex Burkhead - Let's be honest, these two have benefitted the most by the emergence of Martinez. Combined the two of them have only carried the ball 103 times through five games. Through five games last year Helu had carried the ball 91 times and Burkhead 52 times. These two are healthy. They will need to take some of the pressure to move the ball off of Martinez through great individual efforts and need to be part of the underneath passing game to create bigger plays down the field.
Boy, on paper your heart tells you that this could be a massacre, but then there's your head that says that this is still Texas. I don't care how down even Mack Brown sounds about his team. It's still Texas. This is a team that may be a year or two away on offense from being very, very good, but they are still pretty good now and that can't be overlooked when it comes to this game.
They are dangerous. More than that, why would Texas come into Lincoln and want to lie down and let Nebraska run them over? They have a chance to derail our great season just like we had a chance to derail theirs last year in the Big 12 Championship and we simply weren't going to go down without a fight. Neither will they.
That being said, Nebraska needs to not be their own worst enemy this weekend. They can't afford turnovers, giving Texas the short field, bad special teams play, bad penalties, etc. If there was a game where anything less than going out and just executing could end in a loss then this would be the game.
There is going to be a lot of emotion this weekend. There is nothing that Nebraska as a whole can do to stop it. It will come from the fans, the players and the coaches. This is a statement game, one way or another for Nebraska, can they go out and play with the big boys week in and week out or is consistency going to be a week after week issue that will plague this team?
Bottom line, the Huskers will get it done this season. There are just too many things on paper that I think Nebraska can do offensively that Texas won't be able to stop. The Huskers will have to limit big plays by Texas, but athletically I think that Nebraska is more of an equal now with Texas than they have ever been when it comes to their personnel. Huskers "finish" with 31 and Texas 17.