By Wendell Barnhouse | firstname.lastname@example.org
Nebraska played a near-perfect game of keep away but in the end it was a Texas Tech takeaway that decided the outcome.
The seventh-ranked Red Raiders, playing at home, needed a game-ending interception by cornerback Jamar Wall to clinch a 37-31 overtime victory over a Cornhuskers team that had suffered a school-record 70-10 loss in its last visit to Lubbock.
Texas Tech scored on the first possession in overtime but Donnie Carona's extra point was partially blocked and short. That meant that Nebraska could stage a huge upset with a touchdown and an extra point.
On the Cornhuskers' possession, quarterback Joe Ganz was scrambling and tried to throw it away. Instead, the pass went straight to Wall.
"I thought he was going to try and throw it over me. I was getting ready to jump, and he threw it right to my chest and I was just like, 'OK,"' Wall said. "He basically threw it right to me."
And with Wall's play, Red Raiders fans let out a collective sigh of relief. Nebraska's ball-control strategy had kept Texas Tech's high-powered offense from getting in gear.
Quarterback Graham Harrell, who threw for two touchdowns and ran for another, was 20-of-25 for "only" 284 yards - his lowest single-game total since 2006.
"That's a game plan a lot of people have against us and Nebraska today has done the best job since I've been here," Harrell said.
Despite its ball-control success, Nebraska trailed 24-10 going into the fourth quarter. But a successful pass for a first down on a fake field goal put the Huskers at the Texas Tech 1-yard line and Ganz scored on a sneak to make it 24-17 with 12:10 remaining.
After a Texas Tech three-and-out, Nebraska then drove for the game-tying touchdown.
On the ensuing possession, it appeared that the Huskers had again stopped the Red Raiders. Faced with a fourth-and-5 from his own 36-yard line with 4:30 remaining, Texas Tech coach Mike Leach kept his offense on the field. The plan was to try to draw Nebraska offside.
When the Huskers didn't jump, center Stephen Hamby snapped it. Slightly surprised, Harrell calmly looked for All-American wide receiver Michael Crabtree, who made the catch for 47 yards.
"If he was just a little covered, I would go to him," Harrell said. "I threw it up there and he made the play."
The Red Raiders went on to score for a 31-24 lead but Nebraska forced overtime when Ganz found Todd Peterson for a 17-yard touchdown with 29 seconds remaining.
Ganz, who finished with 349 yards passing, was nonetheless distraught over his game-ending interception.
"It's just a sick feeling to end it like that after we played so hard and so well," he said.