Lincoln - No. 15 Nebraska outgained a potent Texas Tech offense, but two long scoring drives and an 82-yard fumble return for a touchdown in the first half were enough to give the Red Raiders a 31-10 win over the Huskers at Memorial Stadium on Saturday.
Nebraska slipped to 4-2 overall and 1-1 in the Big 12, while Texas Tech improved to 5-2 and 2-1 in the league.
Playing in front of 86,107 fans in the NCAA-record 301st consecutive sellout at Memorial Stadium and an ABC regional television audience, the Huskers penetrated the Red Raider red zone three times in the first three quarters without scoring points. One of the red zone stops came in the first quarter, when Daniel Howard scooped up a fumble by Niles Paul on a backward lateral from quarterback Zac Lee and raced 82 yards for a touchdown with 4:52 left in the quarter.
That play provided the winning score for the Red Raiders, who began the game with a nine-play, 80-yard scoring drive on the opening possession. Baron Batch scored Tech's first touchdown on a 16-yard screen pass from Steven Sheffield. The Red Raiders' opening drive included a pair of third-and-long conversions when the Blackshirts appeared to have Tech on the brink of a punt. The first came with a 34-yard pass completion after NU deflected the pass to convert on 3rd-and-13. The second came with a 22-yard completion on 3rd-and-17, which allowed the Red Raiders to overcome a pair of Husker sacks on the drive.
The Red Raiders carried a 14-0 lead into the second quarter that increased the lead to 21-0 on Sheffield's one-yard touchdown run to cap a 65-yard drive. Nebraska managed a field goal to trim the lead to 21-3 with less than two minutes remaining in the first half, but Sheffield marched the Red Raiders into scoring position again, culminating with Matt Williams' 32-yard field goal with three seconds left.
The Huskers went to the halftime locker room trailing 24-3, then dominated the third quarter, but NU was unable to put points on the scoreboard. Nebraska outgained Tech 72-(-3) in the third quarter, as the Red Raiders never approached the Huskers' half of the field.
Nebraska finally found the end zone with 8:03 left in the game, cutting Tech's lead to 24-10 when freshman quarterback Cody Green hit Khiry Cooper on a 13-yard touchdown pass to cap a seven-play, 40-yard drive. It was Cooper's first career touchdown catch, and he finished with three receptions for 23 yards.
Texas Tech put together its only successful drive of the second half on the ensuing possession, marching 54 yards in nine plays capped by Sheffield's second one-yard touchdown run of the day to make the final margin.
Sheffield closed the day completing 23-of-32 passes for 234 yards and one score. He did not throw an interception, and Texas Tech played nearly error-free football, going without a turnover while being whistled for just four penalties for 40 yards. Detron Lewis led the Red Raider receivers with five catches for 100 yards, while Batch added six catches for 25 yards to go along with his 12 carries for 38 yards on the ground.
Green finished the day by completing 7-of-16 passes for 87 yards and a score in the second half, but did throw a late interception after driving the Huskers deep into Red Raider territory. Lee completed 16-of-22 passes for 128 yards, before giving way to Green in the final quarter.
Roy Helu Jr. led all rushers with 16 carries for 68 yards, and added one reception for 27 yards. Chris Brooks led the Husker receivers with 66 yards and five receptions, while I-back Marcus Mendoza added five catches for 32 yards.
Nebraska finished the game with 285 yards of total offense, including 215 passing and 70 rushing, while Tech managed just 259 total yards including just 25 yards rushing on 25 carries. In the second half, the Huskers outgained the Red Raiders 182-43, but settled for a 7-7 stalemate on the scoreboard in the second half.
The Husker defense notched five sacks among their 12 tackles for 61 yards lost on the day. Senior linebacker Phillip Dillard led the defenders with 12 total tackles, including eight solos and a career-high four tackles for loss.
Brandon Sharpe led an aggressive and effective Red Raider defense with four sacks for 19 yards loss among his seven tackles.
Nebraska returns to Big 12 home action next week when the Huskers play host to Iowa State. Kickoff with the Cyclones is set for 11:30 a.m. with live national television coverage provided by FSN.
Final: Texas Tech 31, #15 Nebraska 10
First Quarter (TT, 14-0)
TT - 10:21 - Baron Batch 16 pass from Steven Sheffield (Matt Williams kick) - 9 plays, 80 yards, 4:39, TT 7-0
TT - 4:52 - Daniel Howard 82 fumble return (Williams kick) - TT 14-0
Second Quarter (TT, 24-3)
TT - 6:56 - Sheffield 1 run (Williams kick) - 12 plays, 65 yards, 6:40, TT 21-0
NU - 1:47 - Alex Henery 21 FG - 11 plays, 74 yards, 5:02, TT 21-3
TT - 0:03 - Williams 32 FG - 5 plays, 67 yards, 1:39, TT 24-3
Third Quarter (TT, 24-3)
Fourth Quarter (TT, 31-10)
NU - 8:04 - Khiry Cooper 13 pass from Cody Green (Henery kick) - 7 plays, 40 yards, 1:23, TT 24-10
TT - 3:30 - Sheffield 1 run (Williams kick) 9 plays, 54 yards, 5:00, TT 31-10
Final: Texas Tech 31, #15 Nebraska 10
Time of Game: 3:19