Husker Defense Shuts Down Texas A&M
Lincoln - Its offensive sputtered at the starting line Saturday night, but the Nebraska football team's defense shifted into high gear and drove the Huskers to a 37-0 drubbing of No. 18 Texas A&M before a sellout crowd of 77,705 at Memorial Stadium.
The Blackshirts dominated the game for four quarters, holding the Aggies (6-3 overall and 3-2 in the Big 12 Conference) to just two yards rushing and 118 yards total offense. The Huskers held A&M quarterback Randy McCown to 116 yards on 11 of 30 attempts and four interceptions.
Mike Brown led the Huskers' defensive efforts with his best game of the season. The senior rover led Nebraska (8-1, 5-1) with nine tackles, including one sack for a 10-yard loss and one tackle for a three-yard loss.
Brown caused two fumbles and picked off two McCown passes, returning one for 20 yards and the other for 17 yards.
Offensively, NU quarterback Eric Crouch and I-back Dan Alexander led the way. Crouch completed nine of 20 passing attempts for 95 yards. The Omaha, Neb., native led Nebraska in rushing with a career-best 137 yards on 15 attempts and one touchdown.
Alexander finished with 135 yards on 20 attempts and one score.
"Right off the top of my head, I can't think of any other defense that played dominating football for four quarters against a good offense like that," NU Coach Frank Solich said. "Without question, our defense controlled the football game.
"Offensively, we did some good things. But we have been our own worst enemy throughout the course of the season. I think we were again hurting ourselves today in the first half with the turnovers. When we've been stopped, we've contributed to being stopped with turnovers and penalties. But we did some good things, and the effort by our football team on both sides of the ball was tremendous."
Solich said the Huskers stopped themselves early. On the first play of Nebraska's opening offensive series, junior wingback Bobby Newcombe fumbled, and Texas A&M linebacker Harold Robertson recovered.
The Aggies, however, failed to take advantage of the turnover. The Blackshirts forced A&M to attempt a field goal, which NU right rush end Kyle Vanden Bosch blocked. It marked the first blocked field goal of the year for the Husker special teams.
Seven series later, Vanden Bosch blocked another field goal attempt by Shane Lechler with 9 minutes, 28 seconds remaining in the second quarter. Dion Booker fell on the errant kick, returning possession to the Huskers on their own 10-yard line.
Nebraska scored two series later and took a 3-0 when freshman kicker Josh Brown connected on a 20-yard field goal attempt with 5:29 remaining in the first half, capping a four-play, eight-yard scoring drive.
Brown scored again for the Huskers on their final drive of the first half, drilling a 31-yard field goal after a Mike Brown intercepted a McCown pass and returned it 20 yards to the A&M 18-yard line.
Nebraska carried a 6-0 lead into the locker room at the half, but Solich wasn't entirely happy with the offensive production. The Huskers fumbled twice and lost both, missed a field goal and failed to score a touchdown each of the six times they entered Texas A&M territory.
"I had to slap myself when we were fumbling and blowing some scoring opportunities in the first half. Early on, it was a struggle. It was anybody's ball game.
"But we kept pressing forward with it, and things started to work themselves out. Then, we took control of the game."
The Nebraska offense came alive in the second half. The Huskers scored on their first possession of the third quarter when a third Josh Brown field goal capped a nine-play, 36-yard scoring drive which included rushes of three, 13 and 16 yards by Alexander.
After Steve Warren sacked McCown for a nine-yard loss on A&M's first drive of the half, the Aggies were forced to punt. Alexander scored Nebraska's first touchdown of the game on the ensuing drive with 5:50 remaining in the third quarter. The three-play 45-yard drive was highlighted by a 20-yard run by Alexander and a 13-yard run by Crouch.
The Huskers forced A&M to punt once again on the following offensive series. On Nebraska's next possession, Alexander fumbled on the NU 2-yard line. A&M took over, but Mike Brown picked up his second interception of the game two series later, returning it 31 yards to the Texas A&M 2-yard line.
Brown's interception sparked the NU offense. Crouch rushed over the left end for a 2-yard score. Josh Brown's PAT was good, and the Huskers took a 23-0 lead with 1:13 remaining in the third quarter.
No. 2 I-back Correll Buckhalter and No. 3 I-back Dahrran Diedrick provided NU with its final to scores of the game. Buckhalter scored on a 2-yard run up the middle with 11:06 left in the fourth quarter, capping a seven-play, 98-yard drive - Nebraska's longest drive this year.
Diedrick accounted for NU's final score with a 3-yard rush up the middle after an eight-play, 36-yard drive to make a 37-0 with 3:02 left in the game.
Nebraska Postgame Notes vs. Texas A&M, Nov. 6, 1999
* The No. 9/9 Nebraska Cornhuskers defeated No. 18/21 (AP/Coaches) Texas A&M, 37-0, in Lincoln. It marked Nebraska