ARLINGTON, Texas – After being embarrassed in its worst performance of the season last week, Texas’ defense was determined to make amends.
Good thing, because the Longhorns needed a sterling defensive performance to eke out a 13-12 victory over Nebraska in the Big 12 title game.
After allowing season-worst totals in points and total yards last week against Texas A&M, the Longhorns’ defense was charged up about their chance at redemption.
“We did remember that game, because it just wasn’t us,” Texas safety Blake Gideon said. “You’re supposed to have a short memory as a defensive back and a defense. But we did remember that game, the mistakes we made and how we were exposed. We wanted to prove that was the real Texas.”
Playing against a Nebraska offense that seemed to be playing directly into Texas’ strength, the Longhorns stoned Nebraska throughout the game.
The Cornhuskers were limited to season lows of five first downs and 106 yards of total offense as they produced a season-worst 1.93 yards per snap.
Nebraska offensive coordinator Shawn Watson seemed content to try to run the ball inside against Texas’ strong interior -- a group that led the nation in rush defense. The Cornhuskers were limited to 67 rushing yards, including no runs by a running back of more than 7 yards.
Texas defensive coordinator Will Muschamp called it the best effort of the season.
“In a big-time atmosphere, that was a big game, to rise up and make the stops we did” Muschamp said. “They aren’t a dynamic throwing team, but they are a good running team and they are physical and tough up front. I was proud of how the guys played.”
At one point, Texas limited the Cornhuskers without a first down for more than 32 minutes as they either forced a turnover or a three-and-out on eight consecutive possessions.
After the struggles last week, Muschamp said he hardly needed to remind his players of their struggles against the Aggies.
“We have a real prideful group,” Muschamp said. “They know they didn’t play well. I didn’t need to say anything to them. We gave them examples of what they did that had been right and wrong. And that’s how we approached it.”
On a day when Nebraska defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh waged a one-man crusade for the Heisman Trophy, the Longhorns played some pretty good defense, too.
“Looking back at our game against A&M, we knew that wasn’t our standard,” Texas defensive end Sergio Kindle said. “We have played pretty good on defense. We got back to our standards and we came out here and played like it. Practice paid off, as you can see.”
Four Alex Henery field goals accounted for all of Nebraska’s scoring. It was the first time the Cornhuskers had been held without a touchdown since their loss at Virginia Tech earlier this season.
“We just couldn’t get any movement up front,” Nebraska coach Bo Pelini said. “They limited our running game. They’re a good defense, a formidable group that is very talented and well coached.”
And in the process, the Longhorns’ defense was able to exorcise some bad memories as many of them left the field with roses as they prepare for their upcoming trip to the BCS title game at the Rose Bowl.
"We were trying to make a point that last week wasn’t how we prepare and perform as a defense,” Gideon said. “It was big for us to remember what happened and then come back out here and play like we know how to do."