ARLINGTON, Texas – Colt McCoy could joke after the game about how much he saw of Nebraska defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh.
“Yeah, we’re best friends,” McCoy said.
Suh had one of the great games in Big 12 championship game history, producing a career-best 4.5 sacks among his team-high 12 tackles -- seven of which were for a loss.
But it wasn’t enough as the Longhorns escaped with a wild 13-12 victory that cost the Cornhuskers their first chance to win a Big 12 title since 1999.
The massive 300-pound senior defensive tackle was a consistent force throughout the game. He slung McCoy around like a rag doll and dominated the interior of the Texas offensive line from the opening snap.
“He’s the staple of our defense,” Nebraska safety Matt O’Hanlon said. “He makes plays that not a lot of other guys could. So for us to have him in the trenches, you know, he just plays his butt off. He makes a lot of plays that no one else makes. So he definitely kept our defense in it.”
If a defensive player ever could have made a statement to win a Heisman Trophy, Suh’s game Saturday night looked like one. Texas guards Michael Huey and Charlie Tanner and center Chris Hall found it impossible keeping him out of the backfield all night long.
“I think he’s the best defensive player at his position in the country,” Nebraska coach Bo Pelini said. “If that means the Heisman Trophy, so be it.”
The finish left Suh subdued and disappointed.
“My initial emotion is that it was very unfortunate how things played out,” Suh said. “But I mean, this team played very, very hard and that’s what we all really do. Like our coach said, the chips fall where they may. Just go out and play as hard as you can.
“They’re going to handle the score, they’re going to do everything to put us in the right position as they did. And all we have to do is go out and play.”
Unfortunately for the Cornhuskers, one play remained at the end of the game. After the controversy on the next-to-last play, Suh was convinced the Cornhuskers had won and that the clock had expired.
“As far as I’m concerned, I thought the game was over, but obviously, it wasn’t,” Suh said.
Longhorn players and coaches were raving about Suh’s performance after the game.
“He’s the best defensive player we’ve played all year,” Texas offensive coordinator Greg Davis said. “He and (Nebraska defensive tackle Jared) Crick are as good a pair as we’ve faced all year. They are so tough to handle because they really get after you.”
Suh came back for his senior season for an opportunity to play in conference championship games and improve his draft stock.
He obviously did both this season, finishing with 82 total tackles and 12 sacks. That total is the third most in Nebraska history and the most since linebacker Trev Alberts notched 15 in 1993.
It’s hard to believe many NFL teams could find a better player on the film than him tonight.