The Huskers were able to move the ball effectively on the ground, the big red pounding it up the middle seven straight times, led by Marlon Lucky who toted the ball four times for 30 yards. Freshman Roy Helu along with junior Cody Glenn contributed as well, but on 3rd and two, Glenn wasn't able to get the first down off the right side, forcing a Husker punt. The Huskers managed 39 yards on the drive before having to give it back to the Horns.
The Horns tried answering the Huskers' challenge at the line, running five plays of their own, led by Vondrell McGee, who gashed the Huskers up the middle for a long gain of 18 yards. But a solid open field tackle at the line of scrimmage by Ben Eisenhart on a pitch play to the right side, forced Texas into a passing situation. And not typical to the Huskers' M.O. on defense this year, Kevin Cosgrove's crew blitzed on the play forcing McCoy to make a hurried throw on a middle screen to Nate Jones.
The Horns had to punt for the second straight time, Nebraska getting good field position at their own 28 yard line.
The big red laid a big goose egg on another opportunity, though, continuing their streak of runs, pushing it to nine straight to open up the game. But a five yard loss on a pitch left to Lucky, forced Nebraska into a third and long situation. That was exacerbated by a false start on Michael McNeil, putting the Huskers into a 3rd and 15. Keller was only able to manage a dump off to fullback Andy Sand, which was stopped for a short gain, forcing the Huskers to punt for the second time in a row.
You had to wonder how long the Huskers' luck would last, and it seemed like Texas was going to march right down the field on Nebraska, Colt McCoy leading the Horns out of the gun, passing and running the burnt orange down the field. The drive was keyed by a 30-yard completion over the middle to receiver Quan Cosby on a post. McCoy then added an option run off the left side for an additional seven. Two errant passes toward the end of the drive, killed the touchdown opportunity, the Horns forced into a field goal. But they knocked it in from 38, taking the lead in the first quarter, 3-0
The Huskers usually have questions at this point, stemming from three games of futility the previous three weeks. But undaunted by the Horns getting on the board first on their own home field, a key throw to Terrence Nunn on third and long and a clutch screen pass to Andy Sand on a fourth down, helped keep Nebraska's drive alive, giving them first down at the Texas 19 yard line.
SECOND QUARTER – TEXAS 3 NEBRASKA 0
The Huskers continued to try and run, freshman running back Quentin Castille getting into the game for a couple of carries. Castille managed four yards off the right side to start the second quarter, but a short gain up the middle forced a third and four, and Sam Keller wasn't able to keep a throw down into the end zone on a fade to Nathan Swift, forcing a field goal attempt.
Alex Henery did finish the drive off, though, knocking it in from 31 yards out, tying the game, 3-3.
The "blackshirts", so maligned over much of the season, were able to stifle the Horns yet again, forcing them to a three and out, McCoy stopped on the third down play, a rush over the left side, by senior linebacker Lance Brandenburgh.
Nebraska was able to put almost a double-digit drive together on their next possession, but the Horns stiffened up considerably on the line, halting Nebraska's improved running game. The highlight of the drive was a screen pass to Roy Helu which went for 10 yards off the right side, on 3rd and 6. The lowlight was Marlon Lucky coming up gimpy with a slight ankle sprain. An incomplete screen pass to Helu sealed this drive, Nebraska having to give the ball up again.
After sorting out a penalty situation, Nebraska re punted the ball, Texas getting the ball at their own 25-yard line. And the Horns went on 12-play drive, highlighted by what looked to be a back breaking and MVP-type catch by Quan Cosby, as he pulled down a McCoy pass along the sideline for a 36-yard gain, taking them to the Nebraska 42. Jammal Charles would add a 10 yard gain up the middle on this drive, but it was once again, a staunch Husker "D", keyed by senior safety Ben Eisenhart, who was approaching double-digits in tackles for this half alone.
You could say that Nebraska should have stopped this drive sooner, the blackshirts missing on two big opportunities at interceptions, both by linebackers. But they accomplished what they wanted to, Texas forced into a field goal situation off a McCoy interception on 3rd and 7 at the Nebraska 17. But the field goal was sliced wide right, the Horns suffering a huge momentum-breaker, still even at threes with the big red.
You might say something had to give, and that usually means Nebraska would wane, fade and fold, the other team taking advantage and taking the game or in this case, the half, going away. But senior QB Sam Keller has proven to be nails when there's little time left, and the big red need to go in the locker room with at least something positive.
Keller did it again, starting at the Husker 20-yard line with 3:10 left to go in the half, and a mixture of clutch passing and opportunistic running put Nebraska where nobody outside of just a few rabid followers in Lincoln, thought they would be. The drive was keyed and kept alive by Marlon Lucky, the junior I-backing taking a screen off the left side, juking one defender and taking a 3rd and 11 situation and turning it into a first and 10 at the Nebraska 38.
Following a nine yard completion to Purify, it was Lucky again, this time running a pitch out 33 yards down the right side to the Texas 20. Following an ill-timed penalty by the Huskers, Sam Keller missed once on a pass, but the second one was a charm, No. 5 hitting No. 87, Nathan Swift over the middle for 25 yards and the touchdown. Swift came off the left side, and the safety (Ishie Oduegwu), bit on the look off by Keller, freeing up Swift for the easy play.
Alex Henery completed the drive with the extra point, giving Nebraska an improbable lead with 22 seconds remaining in the half.
Texas got the ball at their own 23, but a sack by defensive end Andy Poulosky, sealed the drive and the half for the Horns.
Nebraska went into the half, leading the ranked Texas Longhorns, 10-3.
Coming into this game Nebraska is 24-1 going into the half with a lead
THIRD QUARTER - NEBRASKA 10 TEXAS 3
Nebraska opened the half with the ball at their own 20, and this reckless style Head Coach Bill Callahan said the team would go into this game with, paid off and HUGE, Keller hitting senior wideout Frantz Hardy on the second play of the drive for a 54-yard completion down the right side, giving Nebraska first and 10 at the Texas 20-yard line. A couple of plays later, it was Nathan Swift once again, and over the middle once again, Keller hitting the junior wide receiver from 23 yards this time, Nebraska jumping on the Horns to open the half, 17-3.
The hits kept on coming for Nebraska, literally and figuratively, Nebraska taking Texas' first drive and limited McCoy, getting some rather unfamiliar pressure from the front four. McCoy was able to complete one pass for a 10 yard gain and a first down, but that was it, as solid pressure from the revived blackshirt defense stopped another drive, forcing Texas to punt after running just six plays.
The Horns got a great bounce on the punt forcing the Huskers to start the possession at their own seven yard line. Marlon Lucky got the drive off to a great start with a 10 yard run off the left side, but a couple of short runs and an incomplete pass to Purify to the left side on third and long, forced the Huskers to give the ball back to Texas.
The Texas possession started off good for the Huskers, senior linebacker Steve Octavien forcing no gain on the punt return by Quan Cosby. And the blitz and stacked box kept coming from the Huskers as it had been for the entire game.
Nebraska had seemingly stopped the Horns and held them to a three-and-out, but on third and long, McCoy scrambled off the right side for 12 yards, keeping the drive alive. The Huskers continued to play great defense, especially on the back end, highlighted by a pass deflection by senior DB Zack Bowman against Quan Cosby. But that great play was countered a bit by an ill-timed one, fellow DB Cortney Grixby getting hit for pass interference, giving Texas a first down deep in Husker territory.
Nebraska was able to stop the Texas offense after that play, the Horns actually losing a yard on the remainder of the drive, settling once again for a field goal, this one good from 47 yards out, Texas narrowing the gap, 17-6
The momentum seemed to be swinging toward the Horns for the first time all game, Nebraska coming out in their next possession and going three-and-out. Nebraska managed nine yards on the three-plays, eight of it by Nunn on a pass from Keller to the right side of the field.
Nebraska punted the ball and Texas took over at their own 35 and Kevin Cosgrove stuck to his plan of bringing the house and anything else he could along with it. With McCoy's ability to scramble, though, that is bound to hurt you now and again, and it did on the first play of the possession, McCoy being forced out to his right side, where he found Quan Cosby down the field for a 33-yard gain, giving them first and 10 at the Husker 35.
Texas only managed two more yards on the next series of plays, however, forcing them into another field goal situation. Texas got the field goal, this one from 48, their kicker amounting for all of the Horns' points on the day, Texas now trailing the big red, 17-9.
FOURTH QUARTER - NEBRASKA 17 TEXAS 9
The following possession for Nebraska was a risky one, but ultimately didn't hurt the Huskers as bad as it could have. Castille finished off the first quarter with the first play of the drive, taking it three yards off the right guard. The Huskers added another nice run to the corner by Lucky, which got them 10 yards and a first down. But a couple of stifled runs followed by a shovel pass to Lucky which was sniffed out well by Texas, forced the Huskers into another third and long situation. Keller threw a very ill-advised ball to the right side, into good coverage, but the ball fell incomplete, forcing the Huskers to punt.
After multiple opportunities and multiple failures, Texas tried to capitalize on stopping Nebraska, trying to knock something off of the Huskers' 8-point lead. It didn't look like McCoy was even going to be part of that initially, the Horn QB knocked down hard to the ground by sophomore linebacker Phillip Dillard.
Freshman QB John Chiles came in for McCoy for one play, and while he didn't throw the ball, he handed it off to Charles, who got a big gain off the right side for 25 yards, giving Texas first down in Husker territory.
McCoy came back in the very next play, and surprisingly enough, on a designed QB keeper, rushed right up the middle, ala Texas A&M last week, the beaten but not beaten QB giving Texas first down at the Husker 25-yard line. On the very next play, on a simple run off the right side, Charles went in for the score.
The good news for Nebraska on this drive was that Texas had to go for two points off the touchdown, to tie the score, and Lance Brandenburgh got away with holding on the defensive play, Jermichael Finley not able to release into the end zone to get the short dump off from McCoy.
Nebraska maintained their lead, 17-15
Trying to keep or potentially get the momentum back, Keller went to the gun and hit Nathan Swift on a screen to start the drive off, the play going for 10 yards. But after a two-yard gain by Lucky up the middle, Keller made a big mistake, getting called for intentional grounding, the Huskers losing the down and the yardage, forcing them into a 3rd and 14 situation instead of a 2nd and eight. On the following play, Keller just missed on hitting Swift over the middle, forcing a punt by the Huskers.
It seemed momentum was clearly on Texas' side, but the defense once again stood tall, literally and figuratively. It didn't look good at the start, Charles getting eight yards on a first-down carry up the middle. That was then followed by a personal foul facemasking penalty on sophomore safety Rickey Thenarse. But with 1st and 10, junior defensive end Zach Potter intercepted Colt McCoy at the line and McCoy took a crushing hit right after the throw, by sophomore safety Larry Asante.
With the turnover and a first down in Longhorn territory, Nebraska seemed to halt the momentum of Texas and put it squarely back in their corner. However, two short runs by Lucky followed by an incomplete pass down the field to junior wide receiver Todd Peterson, stopped a drive before it could really even get started.
Texas got the ball back, but had to start from their own two yard line following a solid punt by Dan Titchener and an equally solid play by senior wide receiver Dan Erickson, who downed the ball. It put Texas behind the eight ball, the Longhorns forced into a running situation. That turned out to be bad news for the Huskers, and what would be an even worse them for the fourth quarter as just three plays later, from their own 14-yard line, Charles ripped off the longest offensive play for the Horns this season, going 86 yards for the score. Texas did go for two points again, but this time it was McCoy getting stopped by Zack Bowman at around the half-yard line, keeping him out of the end zone, but Texas did the take the lead, 21-17, 7:28 remaining in the game.
Nebraska received the kick and started the drive at their own 25. And running strictly out of the gun, Keller's first pass looked like he was pressing a bit, trying to make the big throw, overthrowing Purify by a ton. But the very next throw was on the money, hitting, guess who? – yeah, Nathan Swift, over the middle, for 36 yards on a post, giving the Huskers 1st and 10 at the Texas 40-yard line.
It was then Lucky up the middle for five yards, then Keller to Purify on a screen for seven yards and Nebraska was rolling down the field. Then disaster struck, Keller sitting back in the pocket, ready to pass, but defensive tackle Frank Okam came from behind Keller on his right side and stripped the ball, subsequently picking it up and carrying for approximately 10 yards, squashing Nebraska's drive and seemingly, their momentum as well.
Texas took over at their own 43 and consistent to what Nebraska had done the entire game, they loaded the box, blitzed and tried valiantly to keep Texas holstered at the line.
They were off to a good start on this drive, as Potter knocked Charles back for a loss on a perimeter run, the Horns looking at 2nd and 13. And Octavien followed that up with a stop on McCoy who went left on a QB-keeper, this one not getting beyond the line. But with 4:37 left to go in the game and a 3rd and 13 situation, McCoy used Nebraska's aggressiveness against them. The Texas QB got the ball out of the gun, rolled to the right and on a throwback hit tight end Jermichael Finley, who went the 13 yards for a first down. Apparently getting his forearm dinged up on the play was Brandenburgh, who tackled Finley on that play.
Once they got the first down, Texas went right back to pounding the ball at Nebraska, Charles getting the ball on first down, that going for six yards. He then got it the next play, that one going for two right up the middle. It was third times' a charm for the Horns, though, as Charles broke free once again on the outside, the blitz going right by him, there was literally nobody to beat to the end zone as Charles scampered 40 yards for the score. Texas went for one this time, making the kick, the Horns extending their lead to 11, Texas 28 and Nebraska, 17.
With just 3:30 to go in the game, on the road and the Nebraska defense starting to falter to a degree, based on what's happened in the previous three games, you had to figure this entire team was sunk. But Keller has proved that the less time he has to get the team down the field, that's often times the best you will see him play.
This drive seemed to be no different, Keller completing a dump off to Lucky over the middle which went for 10. Keller hit Lucky on the next play, that one going for eight. Keller then hit Swift, who got out of bounds after gaining 18 yards and getting to the Texas 42. Keller overthrew Purify on the next play, but Husker fans probably gasped in unison as their senior QB went down and went down hard.
Keller, in obvious pain, holding his shoulder, was helped to the sideline, but that obviously meant it was game time for junior Joe Ganz. Ganz had only seen spot duty this year, and that was during non-conference play of this season.
Ganz, looking at 3rd and 10, out of the gun, was in obvious passing situation and even for an experienced QB, this is not the best situation one can envision. Ganz didn't waste time with any dump offs, though, trying to hit Hardy on a crossing route in the end zone. The junior QB led him a bit much, the ball going incomplete, and it was fourth down. Whether he felt it or not, the pressure didn't seem to get to Ganz as he hit Purify on the left side of the field for 12 yards and the first down.
Nebraska got another false start penalty, but it didn't stop Ganz from showing one aspect of his game, which sets him apart from Keller as he took the ball and ran it down the left side for 12 yards and another first down. It was back to the air for the next play as it was another look back to Texas A&M, but this time two years ago as Purify caught a fade pass in the end zone to beat a grossly overmatched cornerback.
It was Swift getting into the endzone also, but on the next play, Ganz hitting him in the middle of the end zone on the two point conversion. Momentum back to Nebraska? It seemed that was as Nebraska closed the gap to three, trailing the Horns 25-28. But with just over a minute remaining in the game, it was obvious that whatever chance Nebraska had, it was going to come down to the on-side kick.
There's usually not much drama to these things as Texas had their best "hands team" in there, and unlike Virginia Tech/Boston College two nights ago, there was no worries about a wet ball becoming a factor. The hands almost were a factor, though, as the Longhorn receiver had the ball, lost it for a second, but just before one of the Husker players could swoop down and take the ball off the carpet, he brought it back in, securing the possession and the win for Texas.
FINAL - TEXAS 28 NEBRASKA 25
The most valuable players of the game are:
Texas RB Jamal Charles - Had a career-high 290 yards on 33 carries, the San Antonio native scoring three times.
Nebraska QB Sam Keller – Was 23 of 35 for 299 yards and two touchdowns.