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A&M goes south

          BY KEN HAMBLETON 
          Lincoln Journal Star 

          SAN ANTONIO -- This time, the South will not rise again.  

          Nebraska made sure there would be no insurrection in the Big 12 Conference football championship
          game. The No. 2-ranked Cornhuskers quelled any outburst from Texas A&M in a 54-15 victory
          Saturday in the Alamodome.  

          The victory gave Nebraska a 12-0 record, its first Big 12 championship, and a berth in the Jan. 2
          Orange Bowl.  

          It also served as redemption for losing to three-touchdown underdog Texas in the first conference
          playoff game last year.  

          "This was sweet revenge," said Nebraska All-American guard Aaron Taylor. "We seniors talked all
          week, actually since last winter, that we were going to get it back and make a statement."  

          Nebraska erased any doubts among the 64,824 fans in the Alamodome and the rest of a national
          television audience with seven scores on seven possession in the first half.  

          "We felt like we were representing all the teams in the Big 12 South and we're a reflection of how
          strong the South is," said Texas A&M quarterback Branndon Stewart. "I'm kind of embarrassed for
          the South."  

          Representing the North champion, Nebraska quarterback Scott Frost, playing perhaps his best
          game, according to Nebraska Coach Tom Osborne, threw for 181 yards and ran for another 40 and
          two touchdowns in the first half.  

          What Frost left, Ahman Green picked up with 104 yards and two touchdowns in the first half. Green
          finished with 179 yards and three touchdowns and had three catches for 16 yards.  

          "It was just too much for us to stop," said Texas A&M linebacker Dat Nguyen. "Scott Frost is such
          a great competitor and he's so smart. He knew where our weaknesses were every time they lined
          up."  

          There were even some weaknesses Frost didn't discover. Nebraska freshman Bobby Newcombe
          blew through the Texas A&M "Wrecking Crew" defense for 106 yards of offense in the first quarter.
          He rushed twice for 27 yards, caught a 26-yard pass and returned two punts for 55 yards.  

          And remember, Nebraska's offense wasn't as spectuacular as the defense, Taylor said.  

          "Our defense was just pounding those guys," he said. "It was phenomenal because they were just
          blasting those guys. It got our offense up."  

          Even with captain and defensive tackle Jason Peter limited to one quarter of action because of back
          spasms, the Nebraska defense allowed just two first-half first downs. Except for a 63-yard pass, the
          Huskers allowed just 15 yards of offense by A&M and that was all in the air, because the Aggies
          had minus 5 yards rushing in the first half.  

          "We were playing for everybody who saw what happened with Texas last year and we were playing
          for ourselves and our goal to get to the Orange Bowl," said Nebraska rush end Mike Rucker. "We
          had to prove ourselves after the letdown at the end of the Colorado game last week end for Missouri
          a couple of weeks ago.  

          "I think we proved the point today."  

          Nebraska's offense sputtered a bit in the first quarter. After Frost scored on a 6-yard touchdown
          run, the Huskers settled for Kris Brown field goals of 27, 26 and 31 yards.  

          Brown added another first-half field goal, after Green scored two more touchdowns ó on a 25-yard
          option run to the right and on a 1-yard leap to cap a 67-yard drive.  

          "We didn't want to get knocked out early," Texas A&M coach R.C. Slocum said. "We didn't get
          knocked out but we had some knots on our head and we were reeling.  

          "I was not shocked. I knew that their pressure would be good and I was disappointed with some of
          our pass plays in the first half and our lack of execution."  

          Slocum said there was balance in the Aggies' troubles, though.  

           "Defensively, in the first half, there were a couple of pass plays that we did not do a good job of
          covering. It is hard to defend them running the option because you get so wrapped up with the
          option, you overlook the guys running down the field wide-open."  

           Frost threw just one pass in eight plays on Nebraska's first scoring drive. He hit Newcombe on a
          26-yard pass on the next scoring drive. He found Jeff Lake on a 26-yard pass to set up Green's
          25-yard run for a score.  

           The next scoring drive, Frost was flawless, hitting four passes for 50 yards to set up Green's dive
          touchdown, and on the final scoring drive of the half, he hit Matt Davison on a 51-yard pass.  

           "I don't think we expected to do much passing, but when the situation calls for it we throw the ball
          more," said Frost. "The receivers were giving me trouble that my arm would be too sore to throw
          after halftime."  

           Texas A&M finally stopped Nebraska when Green lost the first of four Husker fumbles in the
          second half.  

           But even with the four turnovers, Nebraska still counted on an all-running 11-play drive that ended
          with Green's third touchdown.  

           Texas A&M, 9-3, scored a touchdown on a 10-play, 75-yard drive and threatened again on a
          recovered onside kickoff recovery. But the Aggies managed to score on a fumble return by Jason
          Glenn. And even that score was offset by Nebraska's Frankie London scoring on a 3-yard run with
          1:03 left in the game.  

           Osborne, a strong opponent of the playoff game, said he was pleased with his team's victory. "Last
          year, against Texas, we didn't get that excited and looked ahead to the Sugar Bowl and we goofed
          up.  

           "This time, we wanted to get it done. The players wanted another chance at a national championship
          and they have done their part by getting to 12-0," he said. "Michigan (current No. 1) is a great team
          and I have great admiration for them.  

           "This is a great team, too, by anyway you stack it. We won't spend a lot of time talking about the
          polls.It's all in the eyes of the beholder and anything you say sounds self-serving."  

           Some others weren't so shy about talk of a national championship. "We must have made some
          impression on somebody," said Taylor. "I don't know how much better we could have played,
          except at the end.  

           "But we'll just go to Miami and play our best and let the rest take care of itself."  

           The victory puts Nebraska a step closer to a ninth perfect season. Osborne has coached two of
          those, both national champions. "We played well against the good teams in big games,
          Washington, Kansas State and when we were cranked up, we played awfully well," he said.  

           ''When they face the challenge, they get going pretty good. I'd like to see us finish the job."  

 

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