#18 Nebraska 48
Texas A&M 12

Oct. 18, 2003 • Memorial Stadium, Lincoln

1 2 3 4 T
Texas A&M 3 0 3 6 12
Nebraska 20 0 14 14 48

Nebraska recovers: Bo's Blackshirts darken McNeal's day

Texas A&M quarterback Reggie McNeal is pressured by Nebraska linebacker Barrett Ruud in the third quarter. McNeal fumbled on the play, one of eight Aggie turnovers in the Huskers' 48-12 win. JEFF BEIERMANN/THE WORLD-HERALD

LINCOLN — When you spike the ball and do something as bold and obnoxious as Titus Adams did Saturday, the standard punishment is a 6 a.m. Monday wakeup call with push-ups, up-downs and enough running to make Richard Simmons queasy.

Adams didn't care. He rumbled into the end zone, holding the eighth and final turnover for Nebraska's defense, and slammed that ball to the turf. The defensive coaches laughed. A captain called Adams his hero.

And after an obligatory stern look, Nebraska Coach Frank Solich sighed.

The Blackshirts were back Saturday, riding a week's worth of emotion to sock Texas A&M 48-12 on a balmy October day that seemed miles away from last week's collapse in the cold rain at Missouri.

They knew they'd be back. But who could've imagined this? Eight turnovers, two run in for touchdowns. The eight turnovers tied a school record, a number that hadn't been touched for 12 years, and they came against an A&M team that had hung 73 points on Baylor a week before.

"We didn't talk about eight turnovers," NU Defensive Coordinator Bo Pelini said, "but we did talk about making that football ours for four quarters. And they did that.

"I had total confidence in our guys. The leadership, the senior leadership, the job our assistant coaches do ... There's a chemistry. But now our job is to forget about this one and go on to the next one."

Barrett Ruud will have a tough time forgetting Saturday. The junior linebacker got his first career interception, ran it 27 yards for a touchdown. He sacked Aggie quarterback Reggie McNeal in the third quarter, caused him to fumble and got his 202nd career tackle on the play.

That tied his father, Tom, who had 202 as a Husker in the 1970s.

Forget Saturday? Josh Bullocks won't. Not when he changed the game late in the first quarter and effectively changed history. The sophomore safety went up for a pass with Aggie receiver Jamaar Taylor, stepped right in front of Taylor. Bullocks intercepted it for his seventh pick of the year, which tied a school record.

His twin brother, Daniel, also got a turnover, causing and recovering a fumble. Just a day earlier, the team had gathered around Daniel and given him his first Blackshirt.

"I don't know who was happier, Josh or Daniel," NU Secondary Coach Marvin Sanders said.

Seems everybody was happy by late Saturday. In front of 77,604 at Memorial Stadium, the Huskers moved to 6-1 and kept pace in the Big 12 North at 2-1. They did it despite all the distractions.

First came last weekend's 41-24 loss at Missouri, where the Blackshirts gave up 27 fourth-quarter points. Then came the much - publicized punch from backup cornerback Kellen Huston, who decked a fan in the postgame mayhem.

Huston's apology and one-game suspension dominated much of the week's chatter, but back in Lincoln, it barely caused a ripple in practice. The Huskers were too focused, Solich said. Apparently, Missouri woke them up. In the days leading up to that game, players said the workouts were lackluster, almost uninspired.

"We attacked this week," Adams said. "There was no holding back. Coach unleashed it. Coming off a loss, we knew we had to come back strong and let them know the defense is for real.

"Early on, they had a couple of turnovers, and (McNeal) is a young quarterback. I guess he might've started getting down on himself. That's when you pressure a little more. When you start to see blood, that's when you've really got to attack. That's what we did."

McNeal, who is as mobile as Missouri quarterback Brad Smith, appeared to get the better of the Blackshirts at the start of Saturday. He broke free for a 29-yard run on the fourth play of the game and took the Aggies to the NU 25.

Then came the blitz. McNeal threw three interceptions in the first half, bringing backup quarterback Dustin Long off the bench. It didn't really matter. After Ruud's interception return, the Huskers were up 20-3 late in the first quarter.

McNeal finished with three interceptions, Long had two. And Nebraska's defense, which went to Missouri as the No. 1 unit in the country, regained some of its swagger.

In seven games, the Blackshirts have produced 28 turnovers. As they headed to the locker room, somebody asked what they could do for an encore.

Nine turnovers, one defensive lineman said.

If Adams gets one, he'll think before he celebrates. The sophomore from Omaha Creighton Prep said he got caught up in the moment late in the game after reaching up and intercepting a Long pass on the A&M 3-yard line.

It's every lineman's dream to get an interception, Adams said. And to score a touchdown? That's even better.

But when he ran to the sidelines, and caught the look on Solich's face, Adams knew he was in trouble. Nice job, Solich said. Don't ever do that again.

After the game, Solich asked the team to vote whether Adams should be punished with a dirty workout for the display. The team answered with a resounding no.

"That brought a smile to my face," said Pelini, who was laughing at Adams on the sidelines. "You can't get mad at him for that. Hey, what can you say? That was a phenomenal play."


More coverage

World-Herald post-game coverage (PDF)

Game stats

Opp NU
Penalties-Yards 5-43
Rush yards 135 333
Rush attempts 37 68
Yards per carry 3.6 4.9
Pass yards 109 51
Comp.-Att.-Int. 8-27-5 3-9-0
Yards/Att. 4.0 5.7
Yards/Comp. 13.6 17.0
Fumbles 3 0

Series history

Nebraska is 10-4 all-time against Texas A&M.

See all games »

2003 season (10-3)

Oklahoma State Aug. 30
Utah State Sept. 6
Penn State Sept. 13
Southern Miss Sept. 25
Troy (formerly Troy State) Oct. 4
Missouri Oct. 11
Texas A&M Oct. 18
Iowa State Oct. 25
Texas Nov. 1
Kansas Nov. 8
Kansas State Nov. 15
Colorado Nov. 28
Michigan State Dec. 29

This day in history

Nebraska has played 18 games on Oct. 18. See them all »

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