Big 12: DeAngelo Evans

Brown delivers on pre-game guarantee in No. 10 memory

June, 29, 2009
6/29/09
6:00
PM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin

Roll left: James Brown guarantees victory and then beats Nebraska  

Date: Dec. 7, 1996
Place: TWA Dome, St. Louis, Mo.
Score: Texas 37, Nebraska 27

The first Big 12 championship game had much meaning and symbolism on both sides.

Nebraska and Texas had been on opposite sides of practically every major issue in the early history of the Big 12 -- from the first commissioner and site of the conference office to how many partial qualifiers would be acceptable to each conference school.

Nebraska was a two-time defending national champion that came into the game looking for a chance to play for the national championship. Texas arrived as a three-touchdown underdog, but one that had played well down the stretch. The Longhorns entered with a late four-game winning streak that boosted them to the South title after losing four of five games earlier in the season.

When reporters asked Texas quarterback James Brown about the Longhorns' huge underdog status before the game, he brazenly predicted his team might win by three touchdowns.

And while he didn't quite live up to that boast, Brown was masterful in directing one of the most memorable upsets in Big 12 history.

The Longhorns weren't intimidated by the Cornhuskers from the opening snap, marching 80 yards on 11 plays on the first drive of the game, capped by a 5-yard TD run by Priest Holmes. Texas was poised to extend the lead on its second drive after moving inside the Nebraska 10, but Brown was intercepted by Eric Stokes in the end zone to kill the drive.

The Cornhuskers tied the game on their ensuing possession on a 2-yard TD run by DeAngelo Evans.

Holmes later added a 61-yard TD run later in the first half that was matched by a 23-yard TD run by Evans later in the second quarter. Texas claimed a 20-17 halftime lead on a 30-yard field goal by Phil Dawson with 1:00 left before the break.

After another Dawson field goal, Nebraska took its first lead of the game on Evans' third TD jaunt of the game -- a 6-yarder with 2:11 left in the third quarter that boosted them to a 24-23 advantage.

The Cornhuskers then extended their lead to 27-23 on a 24-yard field goal by Kris Brown with 10:11 left.

But Brown, who passed for 353 yards on the game, put the Longhorns ahead to stay by arching a 66-yard TD pass to Wane McGarity with 7:53 left.

McGarity, a converted running back, made a brilliant over-the-shoulder catch over the outstretched hands of Nebraska safety Mike Minter near the sidelines before streaking past him for the final 35 yards into the end zone.

The Cornhuskers were stopped in Texas territory on the ensuing drive, but opted to punt the ball on fourth down to the Texas 7 with about four minutes left.

Texas coach John Mackovic then converted on the gamble of the year. Facing fourth-and-inches from his own 28, Brown faked a dive and rolled left. Tight end Derek Lewis was wide open down the left sidelines, Brown hit him in stride with a perfect pass, gaining 61 yards before he finally was stopped.

Holmes scored on an 11-yard TD run on the next play, punctuating a wild 37-27 upset victory that gave the Longhorns the first Big 12 title.

Factoids: Coming into the start of the Big 12, Nebraska coach Tom Osborne was the loudest critic of staging a conference championship game. But he and other coaches were outvoted because of the revenue generated for each conference school by the extra game ... Holmes rushed for 120 yards on nine carries ... Ricky Williams was used as a decoy, rushing for a career-low 7 yards on eight carries. But his pass blocking was invaluable in the Longhorns' triumph  ... Evans rushed for a game-high 130 yards on 32 carries ... Nebraska quarterback Scott Frost rushed for 47 yards on 18 carries and completed 15-of-24 passes for 155 yards ... The Longhorns gashed the Cornhuskers for a season-worst 503 yards of total offense, despite having the ball for only 20 minutes, 25 seconds. Texas produced 8.82 yards per snap ... Before the loss, Nebraska had won its previous nine games and their last 31 games against conference opponents.

They said it, part I: "I could have thrown that ball behind my back and hit him. The play was so wide open. I looked up and Derek was open deep. I just had to get him the ball," Texas quarterback James Brown on the "Roll Left" pass to Derek Lewis.

They said it, part II: "Oh God. The losses stick with me more than the wins. And that game was disappointing to say the least. We were more talented with that team than the 1997 team that won the national championship," Nebraska defensive tackle Jason Peter on the disappointment of the Cornhuskers' loss.

They said it, part III: ''That was a tremendous call. It was a big gamble, but it worked,'' Nebraska coach Tom Osborne on Texas' dramatic fourth-down conversion.

The upshot: Texas ruined Nebraska's hopes of playing for a shot at the national championship. Instead, the Longhorns earned their first berth in the Fiesta Bowl against Penn State. The Longhorns squandered a halftime lead as the Nittany Lions stormed back to outscore them 31-3 in the second half en route to a decisive 38-15 victory. The loss dropped Texas to 8-5 for the season, finishing No. 23 in the final Associated Press poll.

While knocked out of the national title picture, Nebraska took advantage of four-straight scoring drives in the second half to claim a 41-21 triumph over Virginia Tech in the Orange Bowl. The Cornhuskers finished the season 11-2 and No. 6 in the final AP poll -- their lowest end-of-season finish in four years.

The countdown:

11. When BCS meant "Boo Chris Simms."
12. A Buffalo stampede: Six Chris Brown TDs lead CU to first Big 12 title game.
13. Run, Ricky, run. Ricky Williams breaks career rushing record.
14. Wild game, wilder post-game rants when Gundy and Leach meet in 2007.
15. Rout 66: No, that score wasn't a typo.
16. KSU finally slays the Cornhuskers.
17. Kingsbury and Long hook up in a passing duel for the ages.
18. Henery and Suh make Colorado blue.
19. Stunning OSU rally leads to Stoops' first home loss.
20. It's never over for Texas Tech until it's over.
21. Reesing to Meier. Again and again.
22. A Texas-sized comeback -- Texas over Oklahoma State in 2004.
23. A Border War unlike any of the rest -- Missouri over Kansas in 2007.
24. Seneca Wallace's wild TD run vs. Texas Tech in 2001.
25. Baylor's "So Much for Taking a Knee" against UNLV in 1999.

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