Texas hopes to continue domination of Nebraska

By Kevin Flannery

Beat Texas.

The line was a part of a promotional video put out, and was on the mind of nearly every ‘Husker fan who circled Saturday’s showdown as an opportunity for revenge following Texas’ 13-12 victory in the 2009 Big 12 Championship game. The matchup’s intrigue only increased over the summer, when Nebraska elected to leave the Big 12 to join the Big 10. Many people saw Texas’ power and influence as one of the factors pushing the Cornhuskers out.

But if Nebraska wants to reverse its fortunes before leaving to play the Michigans and Ohio States of the world, the Cornhuskers will have to overcome a brutally tough history since the inception of the Big 12.

In the inaugural Big 12 title game, Texas used a risky roll-out pass to clinch a victory over a Nebraska team playing for a chance to get back into the hunt for the NCAA title and a potential three-peat.

Ever since then, the Texas-Nebraska series has been one of heartbreak for the Cornhuskers. The two teams have played nine times since the start of the conference, with Texas winning eight of the games. Seven of those wins have come in dramatic fashion, with Texas winning six by less than a touchdown (the largest margin of victory in those six was a four-point win in 1998).

Nebraska’s only win came in the 1999 Big 12 Championship game, meaning that Texas is 3-0 in Lincoln since the start of the conference. Two of those wins snapped home winning streaks that were the longest in the nation at the time.

History is certainly in favor of the Longhorns, even if the matchup doesn’t appear to be that way. For Texas to win, it must slow down Nebraska’s three-headed rushing attack with blazing fast quarterback Taylor Martinez presenting the biggest problem. Martinez is averaging 10.8 yards per carry and 147.4 yards per game. Roy Helu Jr. and Rex Burkhead are powerful one-cut runners with deceptive speed.

It doesn’t hurt that the Cornhuskers have again fielded a high-level defense, one allowing just 12.8 points and 275 yards per game. Baker Steinkuhler isn’t Ndamukong Suh (who is?), but he does lead Nebraska in sacks.

That represents a tough matchup for a Texas team that is better against the pass than the run and that has struggled to move the ball offensively. But if history is any indication, expect a tight game.