After dropping two straight games for the first time since 2007, Texas needs an easy bounce-back game to get themselves in some kind of rhythm offensively and to create some kind of team momentum.
Unfortunately, their bounce-back game will be in Lincoln, Neb., against the fifth-ranked Cornhuskers, a team with a powerful offense and a defense thirsty for Texas blood.
An eight-point underdog, according to Vegas odds, Texas doesn't seem to have much of a shot of taking down the Huskers, primarily because of the Longhorns' recent inability to shut down power running attacks, attacks that Nebraska has perfected. Their offensive scheme consists of power running and option running, two styles of offense that Will Muschamp has had difficulty stopping while he's been the defensive coordinator at UT.
In fact, the last three teams to beat Texas were teams that had either good running backs or well-executed running attacks.
Alabama, who beat the Longhorns last year in the National Championship Game, had 116 yards rushing and two touchdowns on 22 carries from Mark Ingram and 109 yards rushing and two touchdowns on 19 carries from Trent Richardson. While a lot of teams had trouble stopping Ingram and Richardson in 2009, Texas' defense was supposed to shut down the Tide's running game and make Alabama's one-two punch obsolete.
To the Longhorns' dismay, Richardson had one of his best games of the year, and Mark Ingram showed America why he deserved the Heisman that he won.
UCLA, who beat Texas earlier this year in Austin, had 118 rushing yards and a touchdown on 19 carries from John Franklin and 94 yards and a touchdown on 16 carries from Derrick Coleman. Quarterback Kevin Prince delivered a Texas-sized kick to the nuts of Longhorns fans everywhere with his 38 yard touchdown run to end the third quarter, a play that gave the Bruins a 27-6 lead and destroyed all hope for Texas fans.
Two weeks ago in the Red River Shootout, Oklahoma running back DeMarco Murray had 115 yards and two touchdowns on 25 carries, en route to a Land Thief victory over Texas. This running performance comes from a team that has a very average running game (ranked just 90th in rush yards per game).
Not a good sign for the Longhorns, who will be taking on the second-ranked rushing attack in the country (averaging 337.6 yards per game) when they head up to Lincoln.
Of the last three games lost by Texas, the most troubling aspect of their game against Nebraska was illustrated from the UCLA game, specifically Kevin Prince's performance and the difficulty of stopping option-style quarterbacks. Prince's 38-yard touchdown run to end the third quarter may just be a preview of what Taylor "T-Magic" (worst nickname ever) Martinez could do to the Longhorn defense.
Martinez, another option-style quarterback, has been phenomenal for Nebraska, particularly in his game last Thursday against Kansas State (the same Kansas State team that held UCLA's running game to 193 yards, compared to UCLA's 264 rush yards against Texas) where he rushed for 241 yards and four touchdowns on only 15 carries.
The only upside for Texas in Nebraska's run-heavy offense is if the Longhorns can somehow stop Nebraska's running game, they will shut down the Cornhuskers' entire offense (ranked 106th in pass yards per game).
If the 'Huskers have to start throwing the ball around, Texas will be in good shape and could pull a gigantic upset (if their offense can get five yards downfield… but that's for a different article).
But don't get your hopes up for this game. It'll be closer than people think (hopefully within five touchdowns), but Texas won't win.
I'll preview Texas' offense versus Nebraska's defense tomorrow night.