Common Sense Sez Horns Lose Again. History Whispers Hope.

Don't count UT out just yet

Young Garrett Gilbert
Young Garrett Gilbert

Yes, common sense says you’re going to get stomped by Nebraska this Saturday. You’ve dropped two straight games to teams that are nowhere as good as the Cornhuskers are. Your talented defense can no longer seem to consistently stop the run, and Nebraska runs – a lot.

Your offense is led by young quarterback Garrett Gilbert who continues to play competently but not spectacularly. You’ve got no consistent ground game, and your receivers seems to drop as many balls as they pull down (and most of those on short, crossing routes). Meanwhile, Nebraska is led by Taylor Martinez, the freshman QB who is looking very much like the second coming of Vince Young only with better legs. What, 241 yards on the ground and four rushing touchdowns last week? I’m swooning. He averages more than 10 yards every time he gets the ball, and that’s dangerous.

And, OK, there’s the back story. Nebraska fans still think they should have won last year’s Big 12 championship game and if not for a single second added to the clock, they would have. (The officials made the right call and Texas, barely, deserved the win.) Ndamukong Suh still has Longhorns shuddering after holding the Horns to 220 yards of total offense in that game and smashing then QB Colt McCoy (he of the soon-to-be-retired jersey) into the turf over and over again. But Suh wasn’t enough to secure a win last year for a hapless Nebraska O. No worries – the Huskers found that missing offense in spades. Nebraska is about to leave the Big 12 party in a semi-huff for its new home in the Big Ten. The team wants to make a statement. The game is being played in Lincoln. The once ultra-polite Huskers have their swagger back and they’re still pissed off at Texas.

Which is why I’m not counting Texas out. The Longhorns weren’t supposed to win a few other contests against the Men in Red. In 1996, Nebraska was Tom Osborne-led royalty and two-time defending national champs before the rubes from Texas ruined everything in the Big 12’s first title. The Horns were 19-point underdogs. I was on a bus coming back from the Mexican border and searching the Austin skyline frantically for the UT Tower that night. It shone like a burnt-orange beacon. I rushed home to my VCR and watched then-coach John Mackovic roll the dice on fourth and inches. He instructed James Brown to throw a magical 61-yard pass to Derek Lewis that marked a sea change. In 1998, Texas traveled to No. 7 Nebraska and about-to-be Heisman winner Ricky Williams embarrassed the home crowd with 157 yards rushing in a 20-16 victory. Sure, Nebraska exacted some small revenge with a 22-6 win in the 1999 Big 12 title game, but by then the Nebraska dynasty was effectively toast and Osborne was a retiree.

Want to know why Nebraska is leaving the Big 12? See the last paragraph. Want to know why the Huskers desperately want to kick some UT butt? See the last paragraph. Want to know why my gut tells me all Texas hope is not lost? See the last paragraph. Let’s hope a week off knocked some sense of history into both Texas coaches and players. If not, the last half of the season looks to be a long, craggy stretch of nothingness as the Big 12’s corpse begins to reek of regret and disaster.

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