When It Matters

Texas ran the football and ran it with authority against Nebraska, racking 364 on the ground, with 290 by Jamaal Charles. But the impressively high number of yards aren't nearly as important as when the Horns got them.

What if I told you before the game that on Texas' most important drive, the Longhorns were going run the Zone Read three consecutive times and Colt McCoy would be hurt?

You'd think the result would be a rather disappointing Texas loss at home and start reserving your tickets to Shreveport for the Independence Bowl.

Instead, the result was 75 yards on three plays (25, 24 and 25 yards) and a touchdown, giving the Horns their first TD of the game and all the momentum.

What if I told you Jamaal Charles was going to be the difference in whether the Longhorns won or lost?

Not all Texas fans would take that as a good sign and it's understandable given the struggles he's gone through this season. Many would say, "Great, what'd he do this time?"

How does 290 yards and three touchdowns on 33 carries strike you?

The numbers are staggering: 545 total yards for Texas, 364 on the ground, 296 by Charles. But the totals aren't what matter. What matters is when the Horns got them. Charles' 290 yards are the fourth highest single-game total in UT history (which, as an aside, shows how important running the football is at Texas. 290 is only the fourth highest), but he got 216 of them in the fourth quarter. All three of his touchdowns came in the fourth and his most important run may not have even been one of his touchdowns.

Towards the end of the game, the Huskers offense came storming back, scoring a touchdown on a six-play, 57-yard drive to narrow it to a three-point game. Nebraska's attempt at an onside kick failed, but the Cornhuskers still had two timeouts, meaning to secure victory, the Horns needed to get a first down and they needed it on the ground. A false start did not help matters, but on second down, Charles ran right, broke a tackle and cut back across the field for a 16-yard, clock-grinding, game-sealing first down run.

Most of the game, the Longhorns were disappointing, to say the least, when it came to imposing their will on the Cornhuskers. At the start of the fourth, Texas had only put up nine points on, statistically, one of the worst defenses in the country. But 25 straight points in the fourth quarter and 216 rushing yards in an effort by Texas' starting running back that can easily be titled "The Redemption of Jamaal Charles" gave Texas the huge win.

It doesn't matter if you run for 300 yards or just 30 if you got those yards when it matters. On Saturday, the Texas Longhorns, and one very happy Jamaal Charles, got the yards when it matters.

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