AUSTIN, Texas — Bo Pelini's voice kept rising, no doubt out of frustration, because it's not every day that you see Nebraska's defense get pushed all over the field.
Somebody asked the fiery coordinator where the Huskers go from here, after a 31-7 loss to Texas, on a day when everything seemed to go wrong and the last three games on the schedule seem as ominous as a November cold front.
"You don't sit there and cry about it," Pelini said. "You go to the next game."
Saturday's jolting events may have at least merited a sniffle. You had Nebraska's vaunted defense, ranked third in the nation, scurrying all over the field in vain trying to stop a pair of 150-yard rushers. You had the Nebraska offense chugging, struggling, to get 175 yards, a low that hadn't been seen since at least the Carter administration.
And there, with the guys in the Fiesta Bowl jackets watching, you had a team ranked ninth in the BCS slip back into the world of the second-tier bowls.
It was just another bad day on the road for 7-2 and 3-2 Nebraska. By the time the cannon sounded for Texas' last touchdown, at least a couple of Huskers wondered if they truly are snakebitten on the road. They've beaten just one ranked team on the road in Coach Frank Solich's six years. For the second straight away game, they lacked the spark that has carried them to a 6-0 mark at home.
"I have no idea what it is," said Nebraska quarterback Jammal Lord, "but it's going to be addressed on Monday in practice by Coach Solich, I guess. We've got to wait until Monday to see what happens."
Solich said his team lacked energy. In front of 83,308 rather stunned fans, the Longhorns chewed up 123 yards on their first two possessions. When they punched in their first score with 2:24 left in the first quarter, they had run 25 plays to Nebraska's three.
The defense was getting tired. The offense was going nowhere. Texas quarterback Vince Young torched the Blackshirts for 163 yards on 14 carries. UT running back Cedric Benson, fresh off his one-game suspension, piled on another 174 yards.
But NU linebacker Barrett Ruud refused to use tired legs as an excuse.
"It concerns you a lot," Ruud said. "Sometimes those quarterback plays, they're tough to stop. But that's mostly just being disciplined.
"Seeing Cedric Benson run for 174 on real basic plays is discouraging. We can't let that happen again."
It could've gotten much uglier in the first half had it not been for some booming punts by Kyle Larson and an interception by Titus Adams. The sophomore's pick, which he returned to the NU 49, set up a defining moment of the game. Lord tossed a 42-yard pass to Matt Herian, the Huskers had first-and-goal at the 8. They couldn't score.
David Dyches' 21-yard field goal was blocked, and Texas sprinted 80 yards to go up 14-0 with 4:42 left in the first half. The game, essentially, was over.
The Longhorns' defensive line, which was called soft after losses to Arkansas and Oklahoma, held Nebraska to 62 yards and three first downs in the first half. Solich said Lord never really got a chance. He was sacked five times and spent most of the day running from a sea of burnt orange defenders.
"There were a lot of questions that we had in our two losses," Texas Coach Mack Brown said, "but they were answered today."
The questions are just beginning for the Huskers. They'll head to Kansas next weekend, then close out the season against Kansas State and Colorado.
Solich said he'd have to look at film before giving any answers on why Nebraska's offensive line got outmuscled Saturday. At least the Huskers avoided their first shutout in seven seasons. Lord went deep early in the fourth quarter and found Herian for a 48-yard touchdown.
"We couldn't establish our running game today," Herian said, "so we need to go back and start with the basics."
On Saturday, even the basics seemed complicated for Nebraska. At least several players missed practices during the week because of the flu, but NU linebacker Demorrio Williams said that didn't cost the Huskers the game.
"Sometimes it's just not your day," Williams said. "Texas just came out today and outplayed us. We lost a game, and all we can do is come back and go to work."
|Yards per carry||6.9||1.3|
Nebraska is 4-10 all-time against Texas.
|Oklahoma State||Aug. 30|
|Utah State||Sept. 6|
|Penn State||Sept. 13|
|Southern Miss||Sept. 25|
|Troy (formerly Troy State)||Oct. 4|
|Texas A&M||Oct. 18|
|Iowa State||Oct. 25|
|Kansas State||Nov. 15|
|Michigan State||Dec. 29|
Nebraska has played 18 games on Nov. 1. See them all »
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