Arlington, Texas - Nebraska took a 17-0 lead early in the second quarter, but Oklahoma outscored the Huskers by 20 points the rest of the way to come away with a 23-20 win in the Big 12 Championship game on Saturday night at Cowboys Stadium. Four Nebraska turnovers led to 13 Oklahoma points as the Sooners came back from the 17-point deficit.
Oklahoma outgained Nebraska 454-293 in total yardage, including a 342-148 advantage through the air. The Huskers outrushed the Sooners 145-112, led by a 91-yard effort from senior Roy Helu and 90 yards by sophomore Rex Burkhead. Senior placekicker Alex Henery became Nebraska's all-time scoring leader in the contest with 396 career points.
After holding a 20-17 halftime lead, Nebraska was unable to put any points on the board in the second half. With the game tied at 20-20 in the fourth quarter, Oklahoma placekicker Jimmy Stevens kicked a 27-yard field goal with 8:28 remaining to account for the final score. The Blackshirts had forced Oklahoma into a 3rd and 24 situation, but quarterback Landry Jones completed back-to-back passes to Cameron Kenney to push the Sooners into field goal range.
The Huskers would get the ball three more times in the fourth quarter, but was unable to come away with points on any possession. Nebraska's final effort came short following a incomplete pass from redshirt freshman quarterback Taylor Martinez to junior wide receiver Brandon Kinnie on 4th-and-4 from the Huskers' 47-yard line.
Nebraska jumped out to a 7-0 lead when Helu broke off a Big 12 Championship game record 66-yard touchdown run with 8:39 remaining in the first quarter. On first down, Helu busted through the OU defensive line and cut to the sideline before outrunning the Sooner secondary, including a near shoestring tackle at the 30-yard line. The score marked Helu's seventh run of over 50 yards this season and also Nebraska's seventh one-play touchdown drive in 2010.
Henery extended Nebraska's lead to 10-0 with a 53-yard field goal on the next possession, also a Big 12 Championship game record. The Omaha native easily blasted his fifth career field goal over 50 yards while also improving to 14-of-14 as a Husker in postseason play.
The Blackshirts limited Oklahoma's offense early on, including three 3-and-outs in the first quarter. The NU defense came up with its biggest play at the beginning of the second quarter when Courtney Osborne intercepted Jones' pass and returned it to the 12-yard line. Osborne had the ball stripped by OU wide receiver Ryan Broyles as he was tackled and the ball was awarded to the Sooners, but a challenge by Nebraska showed Osborne's knee was down before he lost possession. The interception set up Nebraska's second touchdown of the game as Burkhead threw a five-yard touchdown pass to sophomore tight end Kyler Reed to give the Huskers a 17-0 lead with 12:14 remaining in the first half. Reed's fourth touchdown reception of the year tied him for the most by a tight end in school history, last accomplished by Gerald Armstrong in 1992. The score also improved Burkhead to 3-of-3 passing on the season with three touchdowns.
Oklahoma quickly responded with a four-play, 80-yard touchdown drive to cut the lead to 17-7 when Jones threw a 49-yard touchdown pass down the middle of the field to wide receiver Kenny Stills. Nebraska looked to get the score back, but Martinez was intercepted in the end zone and the Sooners went on an ensuing 12-play, 71-yard drive resulting in a Stevens 26-yard field goal to make it a 17-10 game.
The Huskers suffered another costly turnover two minutes later when Helu fumbled on NU's 31-yard line. On 1st and 10, Jones threw a 30-yard pass to Stills and then snuck in the touchdown to cap 17 unanswered points by the Sooners.
With only 1:37 remaining in the half, Burkhead busted off a 25-yard run and Martinez completed a 3rd-and-10 pass to Reed for 20 yard to set up a 42-yard field goal by Henery to give Nebraska a 20-17 halftime lead.
Oklahoma tied the game 20-20 with 7:04 remaining in the third quarter on a 20-yard field goal from Stevens after Jones completed a 47-yard pass to Broyles down to the 3-yard line.
Nebraska now awaits its bowl destination which will be announced Sunday night.
Final: #9 Oklahoma 23, #13 Nebraska 20
First Quarter (NU, 10-0)
NU - 8:39 - Roy Helu 66 run (Alex Henery kick), 1 play, 66 yards, 0:11, NU 7-0
NU - 6:11 - Henery 53 FG, 4 plays, 6 yards, NU 10-0
Second Quarter (NU, 20-17)
NU - 12:14 - Kyler Reed 5 pass from Rex Burkhead (Henery kick), 2 plays, 12 yards, 1:14, NU 17-0
OU - 11:02 - Kenny Stills 49 pass from Landry Jones (Jimmy Stevens kick), 4 plays, 80 yards, 1:12, NU 17-7
OU - 2:35 - Stevens 26 FG, 12 plays, 71 yards, 4:24, NU 17-10
OU - 1:37 - Jones 1 run (Stevens kick), 2 plays, 31 yards, 0:21, 17-17
NU - 0:06 - Henery 42 FG, 10 plays, 56 yards, 1:31, NU 20-17
OU - 7:04 - Stevens 20 FG, 8 plays, 59 yards, 2:04, 20-20
OU - 3:03 - Stevens 27 FG, 11 plays, 55 yards, 3:03, OU 23-20
Final: #9 Oklahoma 23, #13 Nebraska 20