COLLEGE STATION, Texas — What Nebraska was left to see in its sleep Saturday night was sure to involve yellow flags, swirling white towels and one black-and-blue ankle.
All three added up to the difference in the Huskers’ 9-6 loss to Texas A&M that put on hold the crowning of a Big 12 North champion.
The yellow came in the form of 16 penalties resulting in 145 yards marked off against the Huskers — both school records.
The white was the flurry of towels whipping around as a charged-up and record crowd of 90,079 at Kyle Field tried to will the Aggies to their fifth straight win.
The black and blue will likely resurface on the right ankle of NU quarterback Taylor Martinez, who was knocked from the game in the first quarter, returned after halftime and hobbled home as the Husker offense tried to get anything it could in a game begging for difference-making plays.
“It didn't happen for us tonight, ” Nebraska coach Bo Pelini said.
It was a short postgame press conference that was followed by Husker players heading straight for the bus, unavailable to reporters.
“You don’t need to talk to the players tonight,” Pelini said, reminiscent of the 2008 lockdown on postgame interviews after the 62-28 loss at Oklahoma.
It would have been interesting to hear somebody in red try to explain just exactly what happened Saturday night.
No. 9 Nebraska (9-2, 5-2 Big 12) buried itself under a bevy of penalties that started on its first drive and went straight through to the last. Each was damaging in its own way, and one penalty sure to generate strong debate happened on the drive that put Nos. 18 and 19 Texas A&M (8-3, 5-2) ahead in the final minutes.
NU appeared to have the Aggies stalled as Ryan Tannehill threw incomplete on third-and-11 from the Huskers’ 49-yard line. But blitzing safety Courtney Osborne was called for roughing the passer for his hit on the A&M quarterback.
The Aggies squeezed out one more first down, inched to the 2-yard line and went ahead on a 19-yard field goal by Randy Bullock with 3:02 left.
“That penalty hurt us, obviously,” Pelini said. “We were off the field right there.”
As for the other 15, Pelini thought it best to bite his tongue. But he badgered officials throughout the game as the infractions piled up, and briefly gave chase to referee Greg Burks afterward to get some final words in before going to shake hands with Aggies coach Mike Sherman.
How bad was it?
The Huskers found a way to get flagged twice on both a first-quarter offensive play and a fourth-quarter kickoff — a touchback at that. And they watched as officials picked up a flag in the fourth when it appeared that Texas A&M would be called for pass interference inside its own 10-yard line.
A&M was flagged twice for 10 yards.
“You guys make your own deductions,” Pelini said. “All you’ve got to do is look at the numbers.”
There was plenty of other drama. ABC cameras caught and replayed video of Pelini giving it to Martinez after the redshirt freshman returned to the field in the first half. Pelini wouldn't comment specifically on the exchange, other than to say it wasn't about the injury.
After a 3-3 first half, both the Aggies and Huskers pieced together long and time-consuming drives that netted field goals.
Texas A&M used a 15-play, 79-yard drive that chewed 5:21 off the clock — and included two NU pass-interference penalties that resulted in first downs. Bullock kicked a 28-yard field goal with 14:33 left for a 6-3 lead.
Nebraska started on its 5 afterward because of penalties on its kickoff return for a personal foul (Eric Martin) and unsportsmanlike conduct (Pelini). Its 12-play, 83-yard drive finished with Alex Henery’s 29-yard field goal, which made it 6-6 with 8:31 remaining.
Then Texas A&M put together its game-winning series.
“I always tell them don’t act surprised when you win a game like this,” Sherman said. “When you go to A&M, you’re expected to win games like this, particularly at home with a crowd like this.”
On a night when Aggies linebacker Michael Hodges said the crowd was the “difference in the game, ” the noise might have peaked as Von Miller sacked Martinez on third-and-9 from the NU 35 with 1:11 left. Martinez then threw incomplete on fourth-and-14.
“I have so much faith in our defense,” Tannehill said. “They’re playing so well right now, and I knew they were going to get a stop.”
|Yards per carry||3.4||3.8|
Nebraska is 10-4 all-time against Texas A&M.
|Western Kentucky||Sept. 4|
|South Dakota State||Sept. 25|
|Kansas State||Oct. 7|
|Oklahoma State||Oct. 23|
|Iowa State||Nov. 6|
|Texas A&M||Nov. 20|
Nebraska has played 10 games on Nov. 20. See them all »
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