Brown: Nebraska Back on Track

Head coach <B>Mack Brown </b>returned home Saturday feeling upbeat following his team's 21-10 win over nationally ranked Iowa State. Then he turned on the television.

"It ruined my night," he said.

What he saw, of course, was Nebraska rallying from a 17-point deficit to win 38-31 at Texas A&M.

(Talk about a season on the brink! Nearly everyone used the phrase to describe Texas' fate after falling to Oklahoma. Nebraska, meanwhile, was 5-3 going into College Station and then trailed 31-14 at a place where a road loss used to be a given.)

The Horns face the resurgent ‘Huskers 6 p.m., Saturday, in a Fox Sports Net telecast).

"To come back from where they were and score 17 points in the fourth quarter means that they've got their confidence back," Brown said Monday. "They're on track. What they did when they got in trouble was, when they were down 31-14 with 7:52 left in the game, they decided to go back and be Nebraska. They lined up, and were physical and ran right at them and said ‘This is who we are. This is what we're going to be.'"

In other words, you don't come out throwing -- not even when you are down 17 and you've run nothing but the option since God was a boy and your quarterback (Jammal Lord) is ranked 11th in the Big 12 (62 of 122 for 859 yards, six touchdowns and six interceptions) through nine games.

In other words, you dance with the one who brung you. And the ‘Huskers danced out of Aggieland to the tune of 381 net yards rushing.

"They ended up with 381 net (rushing yards), but they had 421 yards rushing before they had some losses," Brown said, "and that is impressive at College Station."

It probably made a big enough impression to get ‘Husker head coach Frank Solich off the hot seat (for one week, at least) and pretty much sealed the fate of embattled A&M head coach R.C. Slocum (to another mediocre season unless, of course, the Farmers run the table with games remaining against OU and at Texas. Besides, who are you picking when the Aggies head to Stillwater Saturday to play Oklahoma State?).

While the Aggies may be a shell of their former selves, it looked like old times for Nebraska this weekend.

"If you look at Saturday night's game, you'd think it was the same undefeated Nebraska that's getting ready to play for another national championship like they did last year," Brown said. "They looked excited and physical. Their backs were breaking tackles. They ran the option well. It looked like the way they've looked for years."

Nebraska has won 73 of the past 74 home games, but we know who holds the lone victory during that span, do we not? The ‘Huskers have a new lease on life, but they are still fighting for their lives with games remaining against Texas, Colorado and Kansas State. Texas benefits from the fact that it has faced option teams for two consecutive weeks, and has faced better defenses for the past three weeks. The Blackshirts are giving up 344.2 yards per game (NCAA No. 40).

Still, Brown is a master of coach-speak.

"Their defense against the rush is much better than anyone has given them credit for," the Texas head coach said. "We're giving up 125 yards rushing; they're giving up 131. They've given up some big plays in the passing game (212.8 ypg) but they have played the run really well."

It all shapes up to the kind of game Brown has seen before -- not on October 31, 1998, when Texas sprung the 20-16 upset but against Kansas State two weeks ago.

"This game, if we play well, should be like the Kansas State game, " Brown said. "It's going to be a fourth-quarter game and a very physical game. Every yard you're going to get is going to be a tough yard."

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