Huskers Fall in Big 12 Title Game

By NU Athletic Communications
Andrew Shanle's second-quarter interception led to Nebraska's lone touchdown in the Big 12 Championship Game on Saturday.
Andrew Shanle's second-quarter interception led to Nebraska's lone touchdown in the Big 12 Championship Game on Saturday.
Photo by Scott Bruhn/Nebraska Communications

Kansas City, Mo. - No. 8 Oklahoma played nearly mistake-free football and Nebraska was unable to capitalize on several second-half opportunities, as the Sooners won the 2006 Big 12 title with a 21-7 victory over the No. 19 Huskers at Arrowhead Stadium on Saturday night.


In a game dominated by both defenses, the Sooners bent throughout the night but broke only once to drop Big 12 North Champion Nebraska to 9-4 on the season. Big 12 South Champion Oklahoma improved to 10-2 on the year with the victory and earned the conference's Bowl Championship Series berth to the Fiesta Bowl on Jan. 1 in Glendale, Ariz.


The Huskers will also earn a spot in a New Year's Day bowl by accepting an invitation to the Cotton Bowl in Dallas, Texas.


Although Nebraska lost by a pair of touchdowns on the scoreboard, the Huskers generated more offense and balance throughout the night. Big 12 Offensive Player-of-the-Year Zac Taylor threw for 282 yards, while NU generated 84 yards on the ground despite playing from behind for more than 59 minutes on the night. The Huskers finished with 366 yards of total offense. 


The Sooners managed just 307 total yards, including 265 yards through the air and just 42 yards rushing despite leading from start to finish. While Nebraska was able to move the ball, OU's defense was able to create turnovers. Taylor threw a season-high three interceptions, after throwing just four interceptions in the first 12 games this season. The Huskers also lost two fumbles on the night, while the Blackshirts were able to force just one Oklahoma turnover despite playing solid defense throughout the game.


Oklahoma's only sustained drive proved to be the back-breaker for the Huskers. OU used a 10-play, 99-yard drive midway through the third quarter to stop Nebraska's comeback effort. The Huskers, who nearly buried the Sooners in the end zone for a safety on second down, surrendered a 35-yard completion from OU quarterback Paul Thompson to Jermal Greshman on third-and-10. Thompson and the Sooners capped the drive with a three-yard pass to Malcolm Kelly, his second touchdown catch of the night.


Thompson completed 19-of-34 passes for 265 yards, two touchdowns and one interception on the night. He hooked up with Kelly on 10 of the 19 completions, as Kelly produced 142 receiving yards, including a 66-yard catch to give the Sooners a 14-0 first-quarter lead.


In the fourth quarter, Nebraska tried to fight back using a 31-yard screen pass from Taylor to Marlon Lucky to drive to the OU 20. On the next play, Taylor appeared to have Nate Swift open in the end zone, but OU defensive back Nic Harris made a diving interception in the end zone to finish off the Huskers' upset hopes.


Nebraska dug itself out of an early hole after OU’s Marcus Walker forced a fumble by Maurice Purify on the Huskers’ first play from scrimmage. Taylor hit Purify with a quick out, before Walker  knocked the ball loose as Purify tried to slip the tackle. OU safety Reggie Smith scooped up the fumble and returned it to the NU 2-yard line.


OU running back Allen Patrick scored the quickest touchdown in Big 12 Championship Game history on the Sooners’ first play to give Oklahoma a 7-0 lead just 48 seconds into the game.


Oklahoma’s offense struck again with 5:35 left in the first quarter on a 66-yard pass from Thompson to Kelly, who used a stop-and-go move to create space, and Thompson threw over the top to hit the streaking wideout for the score. Garrett Hartley’s extra point gave the Sooners a quick 14-0 lead.


While the Huskers were able to move the ball on the Sooners throughout the first quarter, NU was unable to mount a serious scoring threat.


However, in the second quarter, Nebraska capitalized on the Sooners’ first mistake of the game when Andrew Shanle intercepted Thompson on third-and-long, giving the Huskers their best field position of the game at the OU 23.


The Husker offense capitalized three plays later, as Taylor connected with tight end Hunter Teafatiller on a 14-yard touchdown pass in the back of the end zone to cut Oklahoma’s lead to 14-7.


Taylor’s touchdown pass was the 44th of his career to break Tommie Frazier’s all-time Husker mark of 43 scoring strikes from 1992 to 1995.


Nebraska maintained momentum into the third quarter, threatening on its second possession of the second half. The Huskers used great field position on their first two drives of the second half to drive to the OU 25 on their second possession of the third quarter. The Husker drive stalled without a scoring threat, and Dan Titchener pinned the Sooners at their own 1.


It was one of six punts Titchener booted that pinned Oklahoma inside its own 20 on the night. Titchener and the NU punt coverage unit allowed the Huskers to dominate field position in the second half, but Nebraska was unable to convert its excellent second-half field position into points.


Nebraska's opponent in the 2007 AT&T Cotton Bowl will officially be announced on Sunday at 6 p.m. central time. Kickoff for the Jan. 1 game at the historic Cotton Bowl in Dallas will be 10:40 a.m., with national television coverage provided by FOX.


Scoring Summary (OU 21, NU 7)         


First Quarter (OU 14, NU 0)

OU-Allen Patrick 2 run (Garrett Hartley kick), 14:12, OU, 7-0

OU-Malcolm Kelly 66 pass from Patrick Thompson (Hartley kick), 5:35, OU, 14-0


Second Quarter (OU 14, NU 7)

NU-Hunter Teafatiller 14 pass from Zac Taylor (Jordan Congdon kick), 4:37, OU, 14-7


Third Quarter (OU 21, NU 7)

OU-Kelly 3 pass from Thompson (Hartley kick), 1:25, OU, 21-7


Fourth Quarter (OU 21, NU 7)



Final Score: #8 Oklahoma 21, #19 Nebraska 7


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