Nebraska returns to the Dr. Pepper Big 12 Championship Game for the first time in three seasons and the fifth time in conference history this Saturday evening. The Cornhuskers will battle third-ranked Texas at Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Texas with the game set to kick off shortly after 7 p.m. in front of a sold-out crowd and an ABC national television audience. A victory would give Nebraska its first Big 12 crown since 1999.
Nebraska enters the game with good momentum having won its last five games, the longest winning streak in Big 12 play for the Huskers in eight seasons. The winning streak has boosted Nebraska's overall record to 9-3, including a 6-2 mark in conference play. The Huskers have also re-entered both major national polls, ranking 21st in the Associated Press Poll and 20th according to the coaches.
Texas enters the contest with a perfect 12-0 record and a 16-game overall winning streak. The Longhorns are ranked third in this week's BCS rankings, third in the Associated Press Poll and second according to the coaches.
Texas owns an 8-4 edge in the all-time series between the two schools, including victories in the past four meetings with three of those victories by three or fewer points. The Longhorns own a 7-1 edge in the series since the formation of the Big 12 Conference, however Nebraska's lone victory in that period came in the 1999 Big 12 Championship Game in San Antonio. Texas defeated Nebraska in the inaugural Big 12 title game in 1996.
Nebraska: Bo Pelini (Ohio State, '90) owns a 19-7 record in his second season with the Huskers. Pelini has guided Nebraska to nine wins in each of his first two seasons as head coach, joining Bob Devaney, Tom Osborne and Frank Solich in accomplishing that feat. Prior to taking over as the Huskers' head coach, Pelini served as defensive coordinator at NU, Oklahoma and LSU. Previously, he had stints as an NFL assistant with San Francisco, New England and Green Bay.
Texas: Mack Brown (Florida State, '74) is in his 12th season as Texas' head coach and owns a 127-26 record with the Longhorns. He has guided Texas to at least 10 wins in nine straight seasons. Brown has a 213-100-1 record overall in his 25th season as a college head coach. Brown is 6-1 against Nebraska.
Nebraska and Texas Share Long History of Success
Texas and Nebraska rank second and fourth, respectively, in all-time victories and are two of just seven schools to record at least 800 wins in program history. The two schools have combined for nine national championships, 70 conference championships and 93 bowl appearances.
Since the start of Big 12 play in 1996, the schools have combined for four league titles and 10 Big 12 Championship appearances.
NU Set for Fifth Big 12 Championship Appearance
Nebraska earned a trip to the Dr Pepper Big 12 Championship Game for the fifth time in the 14-year history of the Big 12 Conference. The Huskers' 17-3 win over Kansas State on Nov. 21 clinched the North Division crown and NU improved to 6-2 in league play with the win at Colorado, winning the North by two full games.
- Nebraska has also played in the Big 12 title game in 1996, 1997, 1999 and 2006. The five Big 12 title game appearances are the most for any North Division school, and tie Texas for the second-most appearances in the game. Only Oklahoma (7) has played in more Big 12 title games. Nebraska is 2-2 in its four previous title game appearances winning the league crown in 1997 and 1999.
- In addition to its appearances in the conference title game, Nebraska has also tied for the North Division crown in 2001 and 2008, giving Nebraska at least a share of the North Division crown in seven of 14 years of the Big 12.
- The Nebraska-Texas matchup will be the third in five conference title games for Nebraska (also 1996 and 1999).
The Nebraska-Texas matchup is the most-played game in league title history. Three other matchups have occurred two times. NU has also faced Texas A&M (1997) and Oklahoma (2006) in the Big 12 Championship Game.
Nebraska Looks to Continue Win Streak Against Big 12 Teams
Nebraska enters Saturday's matchup with a five-game winning streak in Big 12 action, having defeated Baylor, Oklahoma, Kansas, Kansas State and Colorado in successive weeks since a two-game losing streak in October. The five-game conference winning streak marks Nebraska's longest in conference action since winning seven straight in 2001. Under Bo Pelini, Nebraska has had two winning streaks of at least four games against Big 12 competition.
Huskers Strong Away from Lincoln
Nebraska completed Big 12 Conference regular-season play with a 6-2 record, thanks in large part to a perfect 4-0 record in conference road games. Nebraska has won five straight Big 12 road games, including last year's road finale at Kansas State and is 6-2 on the road in Big 12 play under Bo Pelini.
- The five-game conference road win streak is NU's longest since winning its first eight road games when the Big 12 Conference was formed in 1996 and 1997. Nebraska won 19 straight league road games from 1992 to 1997 (Big Eight and Big 12).
- The 4-0 record in Big 12 road games was the first for Nebraska since 1997.
- Each of the victories in Nebraska's five-game Big 12 road win streak has been by at least eight points.
- Nebraska is one of just 13 teams nationally to own a perfect conference road record in 2009. NU is joined in that club by Texas, Florida, Alabama, Penn State, Ohio, Central Michigan, Bowling Green, TCU, BYU, Troy, Boise State and Cincinnati.
- In Big 12 Conference history, there has been only nine times when a Big 12 team has won all of its league games away from home, including three times by Nebraska and twice by Texas. Of the seven previous conference teams to win all of its games away from home, four went on to win the Big 12 Championship (Nebraska-1997, Oklahoma-2000 and 2004, Texas-2005).
Nebraska Looks to Trip up Highly ranked Longhorns
Nebraska enters this Saturday night's game ranked 20th and 21st in the national polls, while Texas comes into the game ranked in the top three in all major polls. The Huskers will be looking to end a long streak of frustration against top-10 opponents, dating back to a victory over No. 2 Oklahoma in 2001.
- Since that victory in Lincoln, Nebraska has dropped 12 straight games against top-10 foes, including two losses to Texas-a three-point setback against No. 7 UT in 2002 and a two-point loss to the fifth-ranked Longhorns in 2006 in Lincoln. Of the 12 straight losses, seven have come against top-five foes.
- Nebraska head coach Bo Pelini is 2-4 against nationally ranked teams (AP), including wins over Missouri and Oklahoma this season. Three of the losses are to teams ranked in the top seven (MU, OU, TT in 2008).
Huskers Have November to Remember
Last season, Nebraska clearly played its best football in the month of November, winning its final three regular season games against Kansas, Kansas State and Colorado.
In 2009, Nebraska again hit its stride as fall began to turn to winter. The Huskers have won five straight games, including a perfect 4-0 record in November, with wins over Oklahoma, Kansas, Kansas State and Colorado.
- Nebraska owns a 7-1 record in games played in November under Head Coach Bo Pelini. Nebraska's lone November loss under Pelini was at No. 4 Oklahoma on Nov. 1, 2008.
- NU is 9-1 under Pelini in games played on or after Nov. 1, including last year's Jan. 1 Gator Bowl victory and the 2003 Alamo Bowl win over Michigan State when Pelini was the interim head coach.
Nebraska's seven-game November win streak is the program's longest since winning 19 straight games in November from 1992 to 1998.
Senior Colt McCoy is the winningest quarterback in NCAA FBS history, entering the 2009 Big 12 Championship with a 44-7 career record. McCoy has won at least 10 games in all four seasons as Texas' starter - the only quarterback in FBS history to do so - and is among the best in the country again this season. He ranks sixth nationally in total offense with 308 yards per game, providing a big dual threat for the Longhorn offense.
Through the air, McCoy has completed 72 percent of his passes (310-of-432) for 3,328 yards and has 27
touchdowns with seven interceptions. McCoy is also instrumental in the Texas ground game, leading the team in carries (111) and ranking second in yards with 30.7 per game. Freshman running back Tre' Newton is the Longhorns' leading rusher, but averages just 39.8 yards per game with six touchdowns.
Senior wide receiver Jordan Shipley may be as big of offensive threat as McCoy, hauling in 99 receptions for 1,292 yards this season. Shipley's 107.7 receiving yards per game average has come with 11 touchdowns after a 1,060-yard season in 2008.
Texas fields one of the best defenses in college football, giving up a Big 12-best 263.2 yards per game. The Longhorns are strongest against the run as they rank No. 1 nationally in rushing defense by giving up 61.8 yards per game on the ground.
Texas has a slew of playmakers on the defensive side of the ball, with its leading tackler in the form of All-Big 12 senior linebacker Roddrick Muckelroy. He has 87 stops this season, at least 20 more tackles than any other Longhorn. Muckelroy is one of five players with double-digit tackles for loss, along with senior defensive tackle Lamarr Houston (20), senior defensive end Sergio Kindle (17), junior defensive end Sam Acho (12) and sophomore linebacker Emmanuel Acho (10). Sophomore safety Earl Thomas is the most dangerous threat in the secondary, picking off eight passes this season, tying him for the second-most interceptions in the NCAA.
Shipley ranks No. 2 in the Big 12 Conference with 13.3 yards per punt return this season, including two
touchdowns. The Longhorns are also very talented on kickoffs, taking back three for scores this season, led by a pair from D.J. Monroe. The freshman ranks No. 3 in the NCAA with 35.8 yards per kickoff return.
Senior placekicker Hunter Lawrence is one of college football's most accurate kickers, hitting 87 percent of his field goals this season (20-of-23). Two of Lawrence's misses have been from 40+ yards, while his long field goal is 49 yards.
Coach Mack Brown
Mack Brown is in his 12th year as Texas head coach and is the Longhorns' winningest coach with a record of 127-26 (.830). Under Brown, Texas has been one of the elite teams in college football, achieving at least a nine-win season every year since 1998, including the 2005 national championship. He was named the 2008 Bobby Dodd National Coach of the Year and taken the Longhorns to eight consecutive 10-win seasons, the only team in the nation to achieve that feat. Prior to Texas, Brown was phenomenal as North Carolina's head coach, leading the Tar Heels to a combined 20-3 record in his final two seasons, including a No. 4 national ranking in the coaches poll at the end of the 1997 season. Brown is a 1974 graduate of Florida State University and was head coach at North Carolina from 1988 to 1997, leading the Tar Heels to bowl appearances in each of his last six seasons. Brown also held assistant coaching positions at Oklahoma (1984), LSU (1982), Iowa State (1979-81), Memphis (1978) and Southern Mississippi (1975-77).
The Texas Series
Series Notes: Texas and Nebraska met in the first Big 12 Championship Game in 1996 and played the first rematch in the history of the league title game in 1999...only five times in the series has the higher-ranked team won...three times in the series an unranked team has defeated a top-10 team, including NU upsetting fourth-ranked Texas in the 1960 season opener in Austin; the Longhorns defeating No. 3 Nebraska in the 1996 league title game; and UT posting a 20-16 win at No. 7 Nebraska in 1998...Texas also defeated No. 3 Nebraska in 1999, when the 'Horns were ranked 18th...it was NU's only loss in a 12-1 campaign...Texas' 1998 win at Memorial Stadium ended NU's 47-game home-field winning streak...UT's 22-20 win in 2006 marked the second-closest game in series history, as walk-on kicker Ryan Bailey hit his first career field goal with 23 seconds left to secure the win...six of the 12 meetings have been decided by four points or less (UT is 5-1 in those games)...the 1974 Cotton Bowl win over Texas, 19-3, was Tom Osborne's first bowl game as NU's head coach...that win was NU's fifth straight bowl victory overall...Texas' victory in the 1996 Big 12 Championship Game ended a streak of 13 straight victories over the four Texas schools in the Big 12, dating back to a 1959 loss to the Longhorns...UT running back Jamaal Charles' rushed for an NU opponent record 290 yards in the 2007 game.
Nebraska-Texas in the Big 12 Championship
Nebraska and Texas have split their only two meetings in the Big 12 Championship game. In 1996, the unranked Longhorns spoiled Nebraska's chance at a national championship, as Priest Holmes led UT to a 37-27 upset in St. Louis with a three-touchdown, 120-yard effort. The Huskers won the rematch in 1999, with Eric Crouch leading the Huskers to a 22-6 victory with two rushing touchdowns to go along with a 136-yard ground performance by Correll Buckhalter. Nebraska went on to finish the season 12-1 and ranked No. 2 in the coaches poll.