The paperwork is filed, the goodbyes have been said and the Big 12 will now move on without two of its northern mates. But for the Nebraska football program, one second of one game will forever haunt them.
It was the night of December 5, 2009, and the annual Big 12 Championship was set to take place in Dallas. The meeting would feature No. 3 Texas and a 14th-ranked Nebraska team that would prove its mettle throughout the course of the game.
Unable to attend the game due to impending exams and an overall lack of funds, my four friends and I decided to watch the game at the local Hooters. Located on the River Walk in San Antonio, this Hooters had a surprising contingent of Huskers fans on hand. Over the course of the game, verbal blows were exchanged with these fans, and the tension in the establishment was palpable.
Until the final quarter, the game was fairly uneventful. Except for a couple of explosive plays, the game had begun to wear on, and miscues were the theme for the night. Nebraska’s Ndamukong Suh was a menace to the Longhorn backfield the entire game, and Colt McCoy was having trouble finding any place to make plays. The Huskers had their share of problems as well, switching quarterbacks from Zac Lee to Cody Green, both of whom proved ineffective.
As the fourth quarter wore on, the teams exchanged possessions by way of turnover, and it was clear that the game would be decided within the last few minutes. Little did everyone know that it would actually be a much smaller interval of time. Try one second.
In the Longhorns’ final possession. They were finally able to move the ball toward the Huskers’ goal line. Positioned on the 29 yard line of Nebraska, Texas lined up for one more shot at the end zone, with seven seconds left on the clock. The ball was snapped to McCoy, and there were no receivers open as he rolled out of the pocket. For the Texas fans at Hooters, panic set in.
“Throw it away!” we screamed. “Get out of bounds!”
Those final seconds seemed to last an eternity, but McCoy somehow released a sailing throw out of bounds just before getting hammered by a charging Suh. The clock read 0:01 but many on the field and stands alike thought the game was over.
After several minutes of review by the officiating crew, it was determined that there was in fact one second left on the game clock, and Texas would have the ball on fourth down with one final shot to put the Huskers away.
Hunter Lawrence came trotting on the field after warming up during the Longhorns’ final drive. Nebraska tried its hardest to eke out one more victory, icing Lawrence with a timeout before the kick. The tactic didn’t do much to faze Lawrence, as he then put the kick through the uprights to seal the win for Texas.
Cheers erupted across the restaurant from the Texas fans, and despair was visible on the faces of the Nebraska faithful. After a whirlwind of emotions had overcome our group, we were approached by the waitstaff with a microphone. We were offered to lead the restaurant in the singing of “The Eyes of Texas,” and we anxiously accepted the offer. During our rendition of the song we noticed many of the Nebraska fans filing out of the restaurant or drowning their sorrow in pitchers of beer. After the song was finished, we talked with fans from both sides about the last play and the controversy surrounding it. Not everyone agreed on the officials’ call, but there was one thing everyone could agree on: It was one hell of a game.
Moments like that will be missed with the departure of Nebraska. Only time will tell whether Texas and Nebraska will play against each other again, but this game will always live on as one of the best to take place in the conference. And for that, we thank you, Nebraska.
Printed on 06/30/2011: Horns, Cornhuskers waged gridiron war for heated 15 years