A while back, Mack Brown privately told a small group of print media that it's easier to win on the road than at home. The expectation, and accompanying pressure, to win at home is stratospheric in Austin. Brown says his team loves to hit the road because they thrive when the odds are stacked against them. They are more focused, intense and genuinely excited on road trips. And Brown said the buzz during team meetings and practice was far more pronounced this week than before the Baylor game. Besides, the team is displeased with its on-again, off-again outing against Baylor. What's more, they feel like they played just one good half of football against OU and now they want to play four complete quarters. It adds up to a pretty potent intangible when Texas tangles with a Nebraska team that does not want the Horns to walk out of its house with a third straight 'W'.
Coach Bill Callahan finally has the QB and receivers he needs to run his West Coast offense, but it bodes well for Texas that the Huskers are averaging 42 rushes per game. The Huskers trot out four RBs per ballgame to wear down opponents, but Texas has too much depth along its defensive front for that to be factor. QB Colt McCoy will get blitzed at least 28 times Saturday, but the freshman has done an outstanding job of feeling the pressure and avoiding sacks. There is no doubt that Texas has more across-the-board team speed and depth than Nebraska. The X Factor is always turnovers but I think it's trite, but true: if Texas wins the turnover battle, it wins again in Lincoln. Texas 31, Nebraska 24.
Ross Lucksinger, InsideTexas.com Editor -- Many seem to think that the Longhorns are going to obliterate Nebraska when they travel to Lincoln to play the Cornhuskers.
Texas only loss of the season was to No. 1 Ohio State, with whom the Horns hung tough, but the breaks didnt go theyre way, eventually losing 24-7. Nebraskas only loss of the season was to No. 2 USC, with whom the Huskers hung tough, but the breaks didnt go their way, eventually losing 28-10.
Nebraska also has, much like the Longhorns, a win over a I-AA opponent, two other non-conference patsies and a relatively easy victory over Iowa State. Theyre also the only other team in the Big 12 that is undefeated in conference play.
However, theres something the Huskers dont have which Texas has an overabundance of and will use to its advantage: talent.
Dont get me wrong, Bill Callahans team is a talented bunch, but theyre no where close to the Longhorns and, at this point, still dont have the personnel to execute the spread offense against a team as fast as the Horns. Add to that the fact that the game is going to be rainy and cold, it will create more problems for their O. The Longhorns will be able to grind the ball on the ground against an aggressive, but overmatched Husker defense.
Nebraska will move the ball and score points, but in the end will be unable to keep up with the more athletic Longhorns. Texas wins with the palindromic final score of: Texas 42, Nebraska 24.
Michael Pearle, Co-Publisher -- My overriding thought as Texas travels to Lincoln to play Nebraska for the third time since the inception of the Big 12 conference is that it would be a near-miracle for a team to go into that environment and win for a third straight time. When Texas beat the Huskers in 1998, it snapped a 47-game winning streak in Lincoln's version of Memorial Stadium. The Big Red had been Big Trouble for opponents in their house.
But that was 1998. Texas won again in 2002, silencing those who thought it would be nearly impossible to do it twice in a row. And a look back at the last two seasons shows that the Huskers have lost at home to Texas Tech, Oklahoma, Colorado and, Southern Miss? Yes, even the Golden Eagles from Hattiesburg, Miss. flew into the Red House over yonder and knocked off NU in 2004.
So, Lincoln is not quite as impregnable lately as it had been during the Tom Osborne/Frank Solich eras of Nebraska football. A team with poise and determination that manages to grab a few crucial turnovers, like Nathan Vasher's late game-saving interception to preserve Texas' 2002 win, can snatch a 'W' out of the place.
Which brings us to 2006. Bill Callahan's got the Husker ship at least turned back in the right direction, with a 6-1 record and a win over Michigan in last year's Alamo Bowl to build momentum for the program. But is Nebraska ready to hang with the speed and talent of Texas? Maybe, but I don't think so, not quite.
There are a couple of concerns, of course - Texas' banged up secondary, still smoking from a scorching at the hands of Baylor, and the youthfulness of Colt McCoy, playing his first game in a totally hostile setting. But although McCoy will be facing his first true road test as a Longhorn, the youngster has steadily improved each week and gained the confidence of his teammates. And I seem to remember another redshirt freshman named Applewhite taking a Texas team into Lincoln a few year back and guiding the team to victory with a magic, sleight-of-hand TD toss to Wane McGarity late to give the Horns the win.
I see this one going into the fourth quarter as well, but Texas will continue its dominance over Nebraska. Texas 27, Nebraska 20.
Clendon Ross, Co-Publisher -- We're all so intimately and emotionally involved in Longhorn sports on a daily basis that it's always interesting to hear other professional perspectives on Texas football, presumably coming from a more detached, unbiased view. I experienced a dose of that Thursday when I was a guest on a sports talk show in Kansas City. I gave my opinion that Nebraska would be a stout test for the Horns because, among other reasons, this would be Colt McCoy's first game in a wholly hostile environment, one in which we simply don't know how he'll respond, and the Huskers are a balanced offensive team that has a legitimate play-action threat, something that the Texas defense has been susceptible to so far this season. One of the hosts responded that he believes Texas will destroy Nebraska, exposing the Huskers for the "fraud" that they are. Although using a bit softer language (probably a wise thing given his location), I heard something similar when interviewed on an Omaha station earlier in the week.
It seems that some folks far closer to the Nebraska program than us down here in Austin are not sold on Bill Callahan's bunch despite a 6-1 record and a top 20 national ranking. A couple of reasons, among others, as relayed to me: a suspect offensive line and an equally suspect pass defense. And the consensus opinion is that Texas is far superior in the trenches.
After finishing up the interviews, I felt like quite the cynic for predicting another fourth quarter game, like the ones in '98 and '02. And perhaps I am being overly skeptical about how good this Texas team is vis a vis Nebraska; the guys in the Midwest sure seem to think so.
I respect those opinions, but I just don't have the confidence going into this game that I had a couple of weeks ago going into OU. It's not that I think the Horns will lose, I'm just not sure they're gonna win. To me, that's a toss-up, with any number of small things capable of flipping the outcome one way or the other. I will agree with my counterparts up north that Texas is superior on the lines, and that's the tie-breaker for me, but I think it could just as easily go the other way and we're in for a nerve-racking Saturday in Lincoln. Texas 27, Nebraska 24.
Pat Culpepper, Special to Inside Texas -- Texas 28, Nebraska 24.
Average of IT Members Picks: Texas 33, Nebraska 18.
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