By Jimmy Burch
Nebraska will drag a three-game losing streak against Texas into today's Big 12 championship game in San Antonio. The streak began in the inaugural title game in St. Louis, when the Longhorns prevailed, 37-27, as 21-point underdogs.
The Longhorns scored a touchdown on their first possession and kept the Nebraska defense off-balance with the passing of quarterback James Brown (career-high 353 yards) and the running of tailback Priest Holmes (120 yards, 3 touchdowns). Still, the outcome remained in doubt when Texas coach John Mackovic opted to try to convert a fourth-and-inches situation with 2:40 remaining and the ball at the Longhorns' 28-yard line.
Texas led, 30-27, and surprised gasps were audible in the TWA Dome when Brown took the fourth-down snap and fans realized the Longhorns were doing more than trying to elicit an offside penalty and a fresh set of downs from the third-ranked Cornhuskers. Instead, Brown rolled left against a short-yardage defense and lofted a pass to tight end Derek Lewis, who was 10 yards behind the closest defender.
Lewis eventually rumbled 61 yards, setting up Holmes' final, game-clinching touchdown. But the pivotal strike from Brown to Lewis, "Roll Left" in the Texas playbook, is the play that became part of college football lore. It was voted college football's play of the year for the 1996 season. And it proved to be the first telling strike in Texas' three-game winning streak against Nebraska in Big 12 competition.
Inside the numbers
0 -- Victories by Top-10 teams in the history of this series (They are 0-5).
0 -- Losses by Texas when Kwame Cavil catches a touchdown pass (UT is 10-0).
4 -- Sacks needed by Nebraska to break the school's season record (49, set in 1985).
6 -- Carries of more than 25 yards in 398 attempts against the Nebraska defense.
7 -- Longhorns involved in an offensive play of at least 50 yards.
10 -- 300-pounders on the Texas roster, most in school history.
38 -- Points scored by the Nebraska defense.
49 -- Tackles for losses by Texas defensive linemen in their past six games.
96 -- Consecutive games won by Nebraska when the Cornhuskers rush for at least 300 yards.
Top 10 jinx?
No. 12 Texas and No. 3 Nebraska have met seven times on the football field, with five of the matchups involving teams ranked in the Top 10. On each occasion, the Top-10 team has fallen. A breakdown:
1999 No. 18 Texas 24 No. 3 Nebraska 20
1998 Texas 20 No. 7 Nebraska 16
1996 Texas 37 No. 3 Nebraska 27
1973 No. 12 Nebraska 19 No. 8 Texas 3
1960 Nebraska 14 No. 4 Texas 13
"I'm a lot quicker back on turf. As long as I can get in space, I think I can exploit their weaknesses."
Texas tailback Hodges Mitchell, on playing indoors at the Alamodome
"We have to pressure [Major] Applewhite so he doesn't have all day to pick his targets, like he did last time." -- Nebraska coach Frank Solich
Talking Trash: Texas
What goes good with creamed corn? I'm trying to plan a celebration dinner on Saturday. Hook 'em!
Talking Trash: Nebraska
Here is to Nebraska keeping their hands around the football and not their throats and beating those damn Texans and starting a long, long winning streak. Don't stop scoring until you have a 100 points on them losers.