The Big 12 Conference has less than two weeks to find the biggest red carpet it can roll out for the Nebraska football team when it arrives in Texas for the league’s championship game.
Such VIP treatment should be bestowed upon the Huskers for supplying the league the only marquee matchup possible, as well as the one that stands to give it the best chance for a game that holds some intrigue.
In case you’ve forgotten the last five forgettable Big 12 Championship Game outcomes, the numbers won’t leave you thinking Nebraska has much of a chance against unbeaten and third-ranked Texas in Cowboys Stadium on Dec. 5.
Last year, Oklahoma smoked Missouri 62-21 in a rematch of a 2007 game the Sooners won 38-17.
The year before that, in sub-freezing conditions, OU was never in trouble during a 21-7 win against Nebraska.
In 2005, Gary Barnett got fired at Colorado after his Buffaloes lost to Texas 70-3. And Barnett’s 2004 club didn’t have any better luck against Oklahoma, losing that championship 42-3.
So should Nebraska feel in awe of these Longhorns? It’d be hard not to. Mack Brown’s latest squad wins with every bit the style that his 2005 national champion team did.
But does that mean the Huskers are headed down the same dead-end road as the last five North Division champions?
Depends on which bunch shows up.
If there’s one thing Bo Pelini has seemed to master in two seasons, it’s the art of producing strong late-season runs. Saturday’s 17-3 win against Kansas State made NU 8-1 under Pelini in games played in November or later.
The win against the Wildcats was the Huskers’ fourth straight since an embarrassing home loss to Iowa State.
But in that span, with the exception of a marvelous defensive performance against a depleted Oklahoma team, Nebraska has been unable to apply a chokehold.
Good thing they seem to welcome that kind of pressure, because they’ll see plenty of it from the Longhorns.
Texas doesn’t have a running back who possesses the kind of strength and speed that Kansas State’s Daniel Thomas displayed in Memorial Stadium. But at just about every other position, the Longhorns have better athletes.
Texas, which rocked Kansas 51-20 Saturday to wrap up the South, has scored fewer than 34 points only once this season. If Nebraska can’t mount an effective pass rush on Colt McCoy, the senior quarterback, as true a ‘gamer’ as you’ll find, will cut up NU. McCoy, with more wins than any other quarterback in major college history, will finish as one of the most accurate passers.
It’s on the other side of the ball, though, where the Longhorns really are special. Austin American-Statesman columnist Kirk Bohls has been following Texas longer than anyone I know, and so when he states that the defense starts as many as nine potential NFL Draft picks, you take him at his word.
It’d be hard to find a better linebacker than Sergio Kindle, but he might not even be the best player on a unit that’s given up more than 20 points only once this season.
And, yet, if you look at Texas’ game against Oklahoma — a 16-13, to-the-wire battle — you start thinking Nebraska might have a chance. The Huskers, after all, have given up 17 or fewer points in 10 of 11 games.
So, no, it’s not a total reach to think NU can win a close, low-scoring game deep in the heart of Texas. The greatest challenge will be to keep it low-scoring.
Reach Curt McKeever at 473-7441 or email@example.com.