And now that the 26-game home wining streak is history, all the Husker Nation can hope for in this series is that Texas will not have someone named Williams to lay waste to their streak again. (In 1998, Ricky Williams wrapped up his Heisman bid with 150 yards against the Blackshirts; on Saturday SE Roy Williams with 161 yards on a school-record 13 catches and FB Ivan Williams with 111 yards on six receptions did most of the damage.)
But most of all, it was a poised QB Chris Simms playing not only within himself, playing not only with an injured finger, but throwing for a career-best 419 yards to direct the offense while RB Cedric Benson was held to a tough 86 yards on 28 carries.
Now, Simms has won a big one! (Yes, this counts as a big one given the tradition of the two programs, the winning streak at Lincoln, Nebraskas resurgent offense, the largest home crowd in school history, plus one incredibly horrific, inept, what-are-you-blind? offensive pass interference penalty against Roy on UT's last drive that could have cost Texas not only the game but a berth in a BCS Bowl.)
Still, it took CB Nathan Vashers leaping interception at the Texas 1-yard line with 10 seconds remaining before the Longhorn sideline celebration could erupt. It was the juniors second pick of the evening.
Now, Nebraska is a phenomenal 73-2 at home since '91, with UT to thank (or, from the 'Husker perspective, curse) for the two.
From a purely objective point of view, this was a hugely entertaining ballgame with rugged defensive stands, quick-strike opportunistic offenses of opposing styles, dazzling special team plays, and youngsters rising above mental mistakes (and officiating blunders!) to see to it that this matchup between two of college footballs most storied programs still went down to the wire.
It would have been one for the ages if Nebraska had been as highly ranked as it was at the end of September (the Huskers were as lofty as an AP No. 8 earlier this season).
There were certainly moments when it appeared Texas was dong its damndest to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory. Fortunately, near-critical lapses on defense and on special teams late in the game were mitigated by stellar play by both of those same units at other phases of the contest. Head coach Mack Brown said he was never more proud of a team and that Simms, on this particular Saturday, was the best player in America.
"Anybody who has ever questioned Chris Simms better go hide tonight," Brown said. "He was the best football player in the country tonight."
Simms completed 29-of-47 passes for two touchdowns and one interception as the offense went airborne (see, I told you Texas needed to run the ball to win at Nebraska) to the tune of 498 total yards.
Yea, verily, Nebraska QB Jammal Lord rushed for an abundant 234 yards and added a modest 98 yards on a seven-of-14 passing night.
"We tried to take away the option game and the pitch back," Vasher said. "Diedrick has been running the ball and pounding it all year. We wanted to make the quarterback run more. He's going to make plays; we just needed to make sure we stopped them when needed."
All told, the Huskers totaled 418 yards -- 320 on the ground -- against Texas' third-ranked defense.
The Horns controlled the clock for 35:24 and converted 8-of-18 third downs.
Texas is now a whod-a-thunk-it 4-1 against the Huskers since the Big 12 was launched in 1996. And Brown is just one of three active NCAA coaches (joining Joe Paterno and Bobby Bowden) to win at Lincoln. Simms is now 23-5 as a starter, moving him past Major Applewhite to be fourth-winningest QB in Longhorn history.
More important, Texas is 8-1 on the season and should be a Top 5 team after a Saturday when nearly every team you wanted to lose (except for the insufferable Sooners) fell from the unbeaten ranks.
(Hey, UT is not just a basketball school, you know!)