Arlington, Texas - Ndamukong Suh and the Nebraska Blackshirts provided another dominant defensive performance, but No. 3 Texas escaped from Cowboys Stadium with a 13-12 victory over the No. 22 Huskers on a walk-off 46-yard field goal in the Big 12 Championship Game on Saturday night.
Suh, a senior All-America defensive tackle who is a candidate for every major national defensive award, set a Big 12 Championship Game record with 4.5 sacks among his seven tackles for loss and game-high 12 total tackles, while the Blackshirts sacked Texas Heisman Trophy candidate Colt McCoy nine times. The Blackshirts also intercepted McCoy three times, which all led to Alex Henery field goals in the game. The Blackshirts notched 18 tackles for 65 yards lost against the Longhorns.
The final Henery field goal came from 43 yards out with 1:44 left to give Nebraska a 12-10 lead over the 13-0 Longhorns. The Huskers, who fell to 9-4 with three of their losses by two points or less, watched the Longhorns quickly get into field goal range after Nebraska's ensuing kickoff bounced out of bounds to give UT possession at its own 40 to start the drive.
Texas drove to the NU 26, but the Blackshirts stiffened and pushed the Longhorns back on a pair of plays before McCoy rolled right and threw a floater out of bounds to try and stop the clock, even though Texas had a timeout. The clock initially went to zero and Nebraska briefly celebrated a victory, before officials cleared the field and put one second back on the clock to give UT a last field goal attempt. Hunter Lawrence snuck a 46-yard field goal just inside the left upright to give the Longhorns the Big 12 title.
Nebraska's defense held McCoy and the high-powered Longhorn offense to just 202 yards of total offense, including just 18 yards on the ground. The Huskers mustered just 106 yards of total offense against UT, but a 4-for-4 performance from Henery on field goals nearly provided Nebraska with a league title and a berth in the Bowl Championship Series.
The Huskers jumped to a 3-0 lead less than four minutes into the game after an Eric Hagg interception of a McCoy pass on a ball that was tipped at the line of scrimmage by Pierre Allen set up Henery's 45-yard field goal.
Less than five minutes later, Henery allowed the Huskers to capitalize on a Prince Amukamara interception of McCoy with a 52-yard field goal with 6:32 left in the opening quarter.
The two defenses controlled the rest of the half, until the Longhorns finally cracked through on a two-yard touchdown dive by McCoy with 2:19 left in the half, which capped a nine-play, 42-yard drive.
Texas pushed the lead to 10-6 with 1:40 left in the third quarter, when Lawrence kicked his first field goal of the night from 39 yards out to close out a six-play, 30-yard drive.
While the offense continued to struggle for the Huskers, Niles Paul came up with a huge special teams plays to ignite Nebraska's chances to upset the unbeaten Longhorns.
Paul returned a 46-yard Justin Tucker punt 43 yards to the UT 10. Four plays later, Henery booted his shortest field goal of the night from 28 yards, after the Husker offense lost a yard on the short drive, but still trimmed the Texas lead to 10-9.
On Adi Kunalic's ensuing kickoff, Marqui Goodman slipped and fell at the UT 1 as he was catching the kickoff to pin the Longhorns against their own goal line. But McCoy then led Texas on its longest drive of the night - 14 plays and 65 yards - driving to the NU 34, before Dejon Gomes made an outstanding play to give the Blackshirts their third interception of McCoy on the night.
Nebraska's offense then capitalized with its most sustained drive of the night - 8 plays and 43 yards, as Zac Lee sprinted 17 yards on the opening play of the drive. Three plays later, Lee hit Brandon Kinnie on a 16-yard pass play. Rex Burkhead moved the pile four yards on the next three plays to get to the UT 26, setting up Henery's go-ahead field goal.
Roy Helu Jr. led the Huskers with 10 carries for 32 yards, while Burkhead carried 17 times for 22 yards against a stingy and disciplined Longhorn defense. Lee managed six carries for 12 yards, while completing just 6-of-19 passes for 39 yards and three interceptions. McCoy completed 20-of-36 passes for 186 yards and also three interceptions, while Tre' Newton led all rushers with 36 yards on 19 carries. Jordan Shipley led all receivers with seven catches for 71 yards, including a big play on the UT drive to set up the winning score.
Nebraska learned Sunday that the Huskers will play Arizona in the Holiday Bowl on Dec. 30 in San Diego. Arizona defeated Southern Cal on Saturday to tie for second place in the Pac 10 Conference final regular-season standings.
Final: #3 Texas 13, #22 Nebraska 12
First Quarter (NU, 6-0)
NU - 11:04 - Alex Henery 45 FG, 8 plays, 13 yards, 3:20, NU 3-0
NU - 6:32 - Henery 52 FG, 4 plays, 9 yards, 1:35, NU 6-0
Second Quarter (UT, 7-6)
UT - 2:19 - Colt McCoy 2 run (Hunter Lawrence kick), 9 plays, 42 yards, 4:41, UT 7-6
Third Quarter (UT, 10-6)
UT - 1:40 - Lawrence 39 FG, 6 plays, 30 yards, 2:16, UT 10-6
Fourth Quarter (UT, 13-12)
NU - 11:34 - Henery 28 FG, 4 plays, -1 yard, 1:21, UT 10-9
NU - 1:44 - Henery 43 FG, 8 players, 43 yards, 3:12, NU 12-10
UT - 0:00 - Lawrence 46 FG, 5 plays, 31 yards, 1:44, UT 13-12
Final: #3 Texas 13, #22 Nebraska 12
Time of Game: 3:17