40 for 40: Nebraska Football’s Defining Moments – The 1990s Locker Pass Content

By at July 17, 2012 | 8:45 AM | Print

40 for 40: Nebraska Football’s Defining Moments – The 1990s

Dec. 7, 1996 – Roll Left

When the inaugural Big 12 Championship game kicked off in St. Louis, most of the fans in attendance fully expected Nebraska to run over and generally bully Texas, especially after UT quarterback James Brown guaranteed a victory over the Huskers earlier in the week. Who was Brown to do that?

The Longhorns had been a middling-to-decent program since the mind-1980s, backpedaling into the title game with a 7-4 record.

There were two things most fans didn’t know: Many of Nebraska’s defensive players were dog-sick with the flu; and Texas had a ton of skill players. Priest Holmes. Ricky Williams. Brown. Mike Adams.

But Jones led UT to a touchdown on its opening drive. Game on.

The Huskers and Longhorns waged a memorable offensive battle, really. Neither defense could stop the opposing offense; the teams combined for 900 total yards. The game would boil down to a daring gamble on the part of Texas head coach John Mackovic, whose team had a 4th-and-1 at its own 30-yard line. Rather than punt, Mackovic chose to win the game right then and there.

“Roll left,” he told Brown. It was a pass play.

Brown did as he was told and found tight end Derek Lewis wide open for a 63-yard gain. Game on – and game over. Texas scored a touchdown on the next play.

Why is it defining? Because it set a tone for the Nebraska-Texas series for years to come.

Aside from the 1999 Big 12 Championship game – which the Huskers won 22-6 – UT would always make the plays NU could not. The Longhorns, thus, would get the breaks, too. Had the Huskers won this game, might it have altered the series for years to come? Perhaps. We’ll never know now. Nebraska isn’t likely to play UT again any time soon.

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