Huskers Win Big 12 Title With 22-6 Win over Texas
San Antonio (AP) - Nebraska's Texas hex is over.
Eric Crouch ran for two touchdowns as the No. 3 Cornhuskers took out three losses worth of frustration against the No. 12 Longhorns for a 22-6 victory in the Big 12 championship Saturday.
Nebraska (11-1) secured a spot in a BCS bowl and kept alive long-shot hopes of playing No. 1 Florida State in the Sugar Bowl. Realistically, the Cornhuskers will play No. 6 Tennessee (9-2) in the Fiesta Bowl.
Texas (9-4) is headed to a second straight Cotton Bowl, where the Longhorns will faceNo. 24 Arkansas (7-4).
The Cornhuskers, who also won the Big 12 title in 1997, avenged three straight losses to Texas, including their only defeat this season. They also avoided a second-half collapse like the one last week against Colorado that all but ended their national championship hopes.
Nebraska's ''blackshirt'' defense refused to let that happen again.
The Cornhuskers sacked Texas quarterback Major Applewhite seven times, intercepted him three times - including his final pass, in the Nebraska end zone - and recovered a fumble. They were even credited with a safety when a shotgun snap flew past Applewhite and bounced out of the end zone.
The Cornhuskers got a career-long 42-yard field goal from Josh Brown to take an early lead, then went up 10-0 on their next drive when a great fake by Crouch turned into a 31-yard touchdown run on fourth-and-1. Another field goal by Brown and the safety gave Nebraska a 15-0 halftime lead.
Crouch struck again on his first drive of the third quarter, plunging in for a 4-yard touchdown two plays after a 55-yard run by Correll Buckhalter.
The Cornhuskers didn't score again, but they didn't need to.
Applewhite brought the Longhorns back from a 13-3 halftime deficit against the Cornhuskers two months ago, but he didn't have a chance this time.
He finished 15-of-42 for 164 yards. It was the first time in 22 starts that he's been held below 200 yards.
Crouch, who had a career-high 202 yards passing but just 35 yards rushing against Texas in October, had 72 yards rushing and 55 passing. He was intercepted once, but Nebraska intercepted Applewhite on the next play, leading to Brown's second field goal.
The Cornhuskers would have had a bigger blowout if their season-long fumble problem hadn't returned in the fourth quarter.
Dahrran Diedrick fumbled at the Texas 20 and defensive back Ahmad Brooks returned it for a touchdown with 13:26 left. Crouch lost a snap at the Texas 6 with 5:27 left.
The Cornhuskers insisted all week they weren't out for revenge, but the losses to Texas obviously bothered them. Nebraska had won 68 of its previous 75 games and Texas had accounted for three of the seven losses. The Longhorns were trying to become the first team since Florida State (1987, '89, '92, '93) to beat the Cornhuskers four straight times.
Although the Huskers were considered the home team, only about 25% of the fans wore red. The rest of the Alamodome-record crowd of 65,035 was pro-Texas.
The Cornhuskers played the whole game without tight end Tracey Wistrom, who hurt a knee last week, and lost leading rusher Dan Alexander to a hand injury in the first half.
Texas running back Hodges Mitchell injured his right ankle returning the opening kickoff of the second half and was limited to one carry for minus-3 yards in the last two quarters. Mitchell entered the game with a team-leading 1,329 yards.
The No. 3/3/3 Nebraska Cornhuskers won the school