COLLEGE STATION In the seconds following Nebraska's 38-31 throttling of Texas A&M at Kyle Field on Saturday, an exuberant Cornhuskers fan sprinted onto the grass before he was corralled and beat around a bit by a member of A&M's Corps of Cadets.
The Aggies, it seemed, had finally slowed someone in red running on A&M's home turf.
The fan, apparently unhurt, was guided off the field, which some more effervescent Aggies consider hallowed ground, by helpful Nebraska running back Ben Cornelsen, before there was any more trouble. Once apparently "safe" on the sidelines, Cornelsen gave the guy a big bear hug for his evidently dimwitted bravery.
A&M's university police said Sunday no one filed a report regarding the postgame skirmish. But Aggies fans might have considered filing a missing persons report with UPD, or more accurately a missing unit report, as A&M fans are left wondering what has happened to the Aggies defense.
Once ranked as high as third nationally this season in total defense, the Aggies have slipped to 17th in that category after allowing 497 yards of offense to the Cornhuskers, as Nebraska wiped out a 17-point second-half deficit.
Cornhuskers runners, not counting the ebullient fan, accounted for 381 yards on the ground, probably the most disconcerting thing for the Aggies, who were about as equally inept against the pass three weeks earlier against Texas Tech.
In that game, a 48-47 overtime loss at Kyle, Tech's Kliff Kingsbury threw for 474 yards the most by an A&M opponent in six years in leading a comeback from 18 points down in the fourth quarter.
And now, A&M's run defense, which led the Big 12 going into the game, is on the ropes following its performance against Nebraska's option attack. A&M allowed more rushing yards (386) only once in its history, in a 1970 game against Texas.
"In the second half we didn't play the option well, for a number of reasons," Aggies coach R.C. Slocum said after the Nebraska loss. "They were just able to get the ball outside, and their quarterback (Jammal Lord) played extremely well. My sense in the game was that it was more of their inside running plays that hurt us."
For his part Lord, who hadn't spoken to the media in a month after Nebraska started Big 12 play 1-2 before Saturday's win, said Kyle Field wasn't as intimidating as he figured it might be.
"It ain't nothing compared to Penn State," Lord said of State College, Pa., where the Huskers lost 40-7 on Sept. 14. "Penn State was wild."
The Aggies might have another opponent run wild on them at Kyle, as No. 2 Oklahoma visits College Station on Nov. 9. That also means A&M is in serious jeopardy of losing four games on its home turf for the first time in Slocum's 14 years as head coach, and for the first time since 1983.
The 5-3 Aggies (2-2 in the Big 12) dropped out of the polls following the Oct. 5 Tech game, and at this rate likely won't sniff the Top 25 at season's end for the third consecutive year. This weekend A&M plays at Oklahoma State, which toppled Nebraska in Stillwater 24-21 on Oct. 19, before returning to face the Sooners the following weekend.
A&M wraps up its regular season at home against Missouri and then at Texas. The Aggies haven't had a losing season under Slocum, but finished 6-6 in 1996. A&M has a combined record of 28-16 over the past four seasons, after finishing 11-3 and winning the Big 12 title in 1998.