Austin, Texas (Ticker) -- A major turnaround in the second half allowed Texas to keep Nebraska's number No. 18 Texas defeated the third-tanked Huskers 24-20 Saturday.
Major Applewhite shook off a poor opening 30 minutes to complete 8-of-9 passes for 166 yards and two touchdowns in the second half as No. 18 Texas knocked third-ranked Nebraska from the ranks of the unbeaten, 24-20.
Applewhite found tight end Mike Jones with an 18-yard scoring strike with 5:51 to play and the defense held tough down the stretch as the Longhorns defeated the Cornhuskers for the third time in as many meetings since the two joined the Big 12 Conference.
The loss was particularly tough for Nebraska, which had designs on a national championship after opening the season 6-0. The Cornhuskers have not lost three straight games to a single opponent since dropping four consecutive meetings to Florida State between 1987-1993.
Texas (6-2, 3-1 Big 12 South) enhanced its chances at a berth in the Big 12 Conference title game and a spot in a Bowl Championship Series game. Nebraska (6-1, 3-1 North) could still win the North Division title by winning the rest of its conference games, including a showdown with leader Kansas State on November 13.
Texas got off to a good start, taking the opening kickoff and moving to the Nebraska 27. But Kris Stockton had his 44-yard field goal attempt bounce off the left upright. Stockton quickly made ammends when Nebraska fumbled on its next possession and the Longhorn kicker converted a 43-yard attempt.
The quarter ended 3-0 and the game remained that way until Josh Brown's 22-yard field goal with 6:21 to go in the half. The Cornhuskers took their first lead of the game 4:09 later when a flea-flicker that resulted in a 33-yard gain set up a 32-yard field goal by Brown.
A short punt by Ryan Long and a 15-yard return by Bobby Newcombe set up the first touchdown of the game. Eric Crouch found Correll Buckhalter with a 26-yard pass and Buckhalter made it 13-3 by taking an option pitch and rumbling five yards for the score.
Applewhite was just 9-of-21 for 47 yards in the opening half while Crouch was 7-of-10 for 121 yards.
Nebraska opened the second half with the ball and got pinned deep in its own end. Texas took advantage on its first possession of the third quarter, needing just four plays to score its first touchdown. After a run went nowhere, Applewhite found running back Hodges Mitchell with a screen pass that went 36 yards to the 2. Chris Robertson ran for one yard before plunging over on the next play to draw Texas within 13-10.
Robertson has six rushing touchdowns on 12 carries this season. Overall, he has seven touchdowns on 13 plays from scrimmage this year. It also marked the first rushing touchdown allowed by Nebraska's first team defense in 1999.
The Cornhuskers tried to extend their lead late in the third quarter, going for a first down on 4th-and-2 from the Texas 38. But Crouch fumbled the option pitch and the Longhorns took over near midfield. Applewhite and Kwame Cavil then combined to cover the field on three straight plays.
Applewhite found Cavil for 18 yards, then near the right sideline for 27 more before capping the drive with a 13-yard slant pass. The touchdown put Texas on top 17-13 with two minutes left in the third quarter.
Cavil finished with eight receptions for 84 yards and his 58 catches this season tie Wane McGarity's team record set in 1998.
Nebraska quickly drove into scoring position and had 1st-and-goal early in the fourth quarter. Dan Alexander got the call on 3rd-and-goal from the 4 but as he was stretching the ball towards the end zone he lost control and Texas recovered.
The Cornhuskers defense came up with a quick stop and the offense rebounded with a four play, 44-yard drive that culminated in a nine-yard scoring run by Crouch. Brown converted the extra point with 7:52 remaining to put Nebraska on top, 20-17.
Jeremy Jones returned the ensuing kickoff 25 yards and Nebraska was whistled for a facemask putting Texas at its own 40. Applewhite found Ryan Nunez for a 39-yard gain and, after two runs netted three yards, swung a pass to his tight end Jones, who rumbled into the end zone for a 24-20 lead.
Nebraska took over at its 35 and drove to the Texas 38 before pressure by linebacker Anthony Hicks resulted in a pair of incompletions to end the threat.
Crouch was 12-of-20 for a career high 204 yards while Alexander finished with a career best 136 yards on 21 carries. Mitchell paced the Texas ground attack with 83 yards on 20 carries.
Nebraska Postgame Notes vs. Texas, Oct. 23, 1999
* In a down-to-the-wire game, the No. 3 Nebraska Cornhuskers were defeated by No. 18 Texas in Austin, 24-20. The lead changed five times with Nebraska leading 13-3 at halftime. Texas scored first on a field goal, to mark just the second time this year NU has trailed in a game (also vs. Southern Miss, NU won 20-13). Nebraska answered UT?s field goal with two of its own then scored the game?s first TD with :45 seconds remaining in the first half to take a 13-3 lead into the locker room. The lead would change three more times in the second half, with Texas scoring the game-winning touchdown with 5:51 remaining in the fourth quarter. The Huskers winning streak ends at six games as NU drops to 6-1 on the season and 3-1 in Big 12 Conference play, and UT improves to 6-2 overall and 3-1 in the Big 12.
* Rushing Defense...The Huskers entered the game ranked eighth nationally in rush defense allowing an average of 80.2 ypg. With the exception of a 33-yard run by Hodges Mitchell on UT?s first drive, the Blackshirts did an excellent job of shutting down the Longhorns? rushing game. UT had 45 yards rushing in the first quarter, totaled 45 yards at halftime and 62 in the game. Nebraska has held every opponent to less than 51 yards rushing at halftime this season and five of seven opponents to less than 100 yards rushing in the game. When Chris Robertson scored on a 1-yard run vs. the Huskers with 11:17 in the third quarter, it ended a 7-game, 26-quarter streak in which no opponent in 1999 had scored a rushing TD vs. the No. 1 Husker defense. The Husker Blackshirts (No. 1 defense) have given up just 47 points this season (24 by Texas). The Huskers rushed for 192 yards in the game. Nebraska out-totaled UT with 429 yards to UT?s 275.
* SE Matt Davison led all Husker receivers against Texas with four catches for 62 yards, all were in the first half. Davison moved from 11th to tied for eighth on the NU career rushing chart with 61 receptions for 906 yards and three TDs. Davison had a 33-yard catch from Bobby Newcombe and a 15-yard catch from Crouch on NU?s second scoring drive to set up Josh Brown?s 32-yard field goal which gave the Huskers their first lead with 2:12 remaining in the first half at 6-3.
* Passing it Around...The Huskers totaled 154 yards passing in the first half and 237 in the game. Crouch completed 12 of 20 passes for 204 yards and Bobby Newcombe had one completion to Matt Davison for 33 yards on a lateral from Crouch. Crouch had 125 yards at the half, outpassing Major Applewhite?s 47 yards at half. Applewhite had completed just 9-21 passes in the first half (three completions on last drive).
* Place-Kicker Josh Brown...Brown hit two field goals for the first time this season. He hit a 22-yarder with 6:21 in the first quarter to tie the game at 3-all, then gave the Huskers a 6-3 lead with a 32-yard field goal with 2:12 remaining in the first half. He had two attempts one other time this year, but was 1-2 vs. Oklahoma State. UT?s Stockton was 1-2 on field goals, kicking just the second of six field goal tries against the Huskers this season.
* Field Position Key on Scoring Drives...Texas converted the first of two Crouch fumbles in the first half into a 43-yard field goal by Kris Stockton, giving UT A 3-0 lead at the 9:04 mark in the first quarter. Texas gained just 16 yards on the drive but began on the NU 42. Nebraska scored its first field goal on a drive that began on the UT 17-yard line. UT had punted from the end zone after a penalty, Long had a short 31-yard punt which Joe Walker returned 21 yards to the UT 17. Brown hit a 22-yard field goal six plays later. UT scored the go-ahead TD with 1:51 remaining in the third quarter on an Applewhite to Kwame Cavil 14-yard pass. It was a 3-play drive that began on their own 42 when NU failed on a fourth and two. Nebraska?s go-ahead four-play drive with 7:52 remaining in the fourth to give NU a 20-17 lead began at the UT 45. For the first time this season, NU?s opponent did not have any turnovers lost. This was also the first time this season and the first since the Kansas game last year that NU did not have any sacks.
* Tight End Tracey Wistrom, a Big-Play Maker...of Tracey Wistrom?s 10 catches for 337 yards on the season, seven (five entering today) have been for 25 yards or more, including a 49-yard reception in the first half and a 38-yard reception to bring NU to the UT 7-yard line in the fourth quarter (NU did not score as Buckhalter fumbled on the 1-yard line). Wistom had two catches for 87 yards today.
* Dan Alexander was the game?s leading rusher with 21 carries for a career-high 136 yards. He reached the 100 mark before the end of the third quarter. This marks the second 100-yard rushing game for Alexander this season (also 135 vs. Iowa State in NU?s last game this year and 110 vs. ISU last year) and third of his career. Alexander was named the ABC/Chevrolet NU Player-of-the-Game. No. 2 I-back Correll Buckhalter had eight carries for 23 yards, including a 5-yard TD run with :45 seconds remaining in the second quarter.
* QB Eric Crouch...passed for a career-high 204 yards vs. Texas, completing 12 of 20 passes with no interceptions and no TD passes. His previous career-best was 145 this season vs. Oklahoma State. (He passed for 193 yards in the 1998 Holiday Bowl vs. Arizona). The last time a Husker quarterback passed for more than 200 yards was Newcombe last year vs. Texas A&M. Crouch also rushed 17 times for 35 yards, including a go-ahead 9-yard TD run with 7:52 remaining in the game. On that four-play drive, Crouch rushed for 11 yards, had a 22-yard shovel pass to Alexander, then scored two plays later.
* Turnovers...While Nebraska had three turnovers in the game, one on the UT 1-yard line which stopped a go-ahead drive in the fourth quarter, UT only converted the first to a field goal for three points.
* Up Next...The Huskers travel to Kansas for a 6 p.m. kickoff on Fox Sports Net.
Texas Team Notes
* Texas has now won six straight games against the No. 3-ranked team in the Associated Press Poll. The last loss against the No. 3 team was in 1965 against Arkansas.
* Texas has beaten Nebraska three straight times. It marks the first time the Cornhuskers have lost three in a row to a single opponent since losing four straight to Florida State (1987, 89, 92, 93), and the first time against a conference opponent since falling to Oklahoma four straight years (1984-87).
* Texas is just the second team to have scored on the Husker defense in the first quarter this season. Southern Mississippi (Sept. 18) scored a first-quarter TD in Nebraska's 20-13 victory.
* Texas scored 14 points in the third quarter on a Nebraska defensive unit that allowed just 13 points total in the third quarter in its first six games.
* Texas trailed at the half for the first time in 1999. The last time UT failed to lead at the half was September 19, 1998, when Kansas State took a 35-0 lead to the break.
* Nebraska's Dan Alexander (136 yards) is the first RB to rush for more than 100 yards against the Texas defense this season. The last time an individual had 100 yards rushing against the Longhorns at home was November 8, 1997, when Texas Tech's Ricky Williams rushed for 131 yards on 25 carries.
* The Texas comeback from a 10-point deficit (13-3) marked the 24th time in school history that the Longhorns rallied from a double-digit hole to win. It marks first time in school history Texas has posted back-to-back double-digit comebacks following its 38-28 win over Oklahoma two weekends ago when the Horns rallied from a 17-point first-quarter deficit. The only other season in which Texas had a pair of double-digit comebacks was 1983 when the Longhorns rallied to beat TCU (11 points) and Texas A&M (13 points).
* Today's attendance of 84,082 is the largest in Darrell K Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium history. The prior record was 83,687 set last season against Texas A&M. Four of the top-10 home crowds in school history have occurred this season (Kansas State 4th, North Carolina State 9th, Rice 10th). Today marked the seventh time in UT's last eight home games that the Horns have played in front of a sellout crowd at Royal Memorial Stadium.
* Major Applewhite was 17-for-30 to give him 176 completions in 296 attempts this season. Both numbers exceed his 1998 totals of 159 completions and 273 attempts.
* Major Applewhite was 8-of-9 with 166 yards and two touchdowns in the second half.
* Major Applewhite had 193 yards of total offense to give him 4,617 in his career to move past Earl Campbell (1974-77 / 4,443) and into fifth place on the UT career total offense chart.
* Major Applewhite has now thrown for more than 200 yards in a UT-record 18 straight games, and has thrown at least one touchdown pass in a school-record 18 consecutive games.
* Kwame Cavil had eight receptions to give him 58 on the season and tie the UT single-season record set by Wane McGarity in 1998. He also moved to second on the UT career receptions list with 132. Mike Adams (1992-96) holds the UT record with 177 receptions.
* Kwame Cavil and Major Applewhite combined for all 58 yards of UT's third-quarter scoring drive, hooking up for consecutive completions of 18, 27 and 13 yards in 41 seconds.
* Hodges Mitchell caught three passes to move from 10th to eighth on the UT single-season receptions by a running back list. He has 24 receptions this season, tying him with Ricky Williams (24, 1998) in the eighth spot.
* Hodges Mitchell's 36-yard reception in the third quarter was the longest of his career. His prior career long was a 30-yard catch against Stanford earlier this season.
* Chris Robertson's one-yard TD run in the third quarter was his sixth rushing TD in 12 carries this season. Overall he has seven touchdowns in 13 plays (7 rush, 1 reception) in 1999. It was the first rushing touchdown allowed by Nebraska's first-team defense in 1999 (26 quarters).
* Mike Jones' only reception of the game, a 17-yard score to put Texas on top 24-20 with 5:51 to play, extended his streak of catching at least one pass to eight straight games. It was his second career touchdown.