ARLINGTON, Texas -- In one of the ugliest first halves in Big 12 championship game history, Texas has slogged ahead of Nebraska en route to a 7-6 halftime lead at the break.
Here's why they have been able to do it:
Turning point: Eric Hagg’s pass interference in the end zone -- when he was ruled to have face-guarded Dan Buckner -- put the Longhorns at the Nebraska 4-yard line. It gave the Longhorns a critical conversion on a third-and-14 play when their offense finally was showing signs of life. Colt McCoy scored two plays later, giving Texas its first lead.
Stat of the half: Texas’ defense has limited Nebraska to 32 yards on 28 snaps in the first half. That’s an average of 1.14 yards per play. The Cornhuskers produced only two first downs and none of those came in the last 18 minutes of the half.
Best player in the half: Ndamukong Suh is living up to his promise as an All-American defensive tackle with four tackles, 2.5 sacks and three tackles for losses. He’s personally helped clog up the middle of the Texas line and make life miserable for McCoy for much of the half.
Best call: Game officials get the honors here on a tough decision early in the first half. Rex Burkhead appeared to have been stopped short of the first down at the Nebraska 31. But after a second look at the replays, they ruled that Burkhead had made the first down with inches to spare.
What Texas needs to do: The Longhorns struggled offensively before showing life late in the first half on their scoring drive. McCoy worked several different receivers into the rotation and overcame three sacks earlier in the drive. That resiliency will be important to start the second quarter. McCoy should follow a similar plan by utilizing all of the weapons at his disposal as the second half progresses.
What Nebraska needs to do: The Nebraska offense is sputtering, mainly because they have stubbornly continued to try to hammer the inner strength of the Texas defense. It’s obvious that any thought that the Cornhuskers’ coaches thought about running “downhill” against the Longhorns appears misguided. They might try some outside running plays. And it might be a time to work backup freshman quarterback Cody Green in for a series -- just for the opportunity to change the pace of the game. Nebraska has to do something early after producing so little in the second quarter -- an interception and three-straight three-and-outs to finish the half.