The proverbial script has been flipped. Leon Black couldn't have done it better.
Last time Texas and Nebraska met – the 2009 Big 12 title game – Bo Pelini's team was a heavy underdog looking to spoil Texas' national championship dreams. The Huskers were hoping their stout defense could give a pop-gun offense enough chances to kick field goals in hopes of knocking off the Longhorns.
Now, it's Mack Brown and his beleaguered Texas team who need a miracle. Can the Horns create enough good luck to pull off the upset?
For a team that seems to play so disciplined, NU sure fumbles a lot. The Huskers are putting the ball on the turf an average of 3.6 times per game, most in the nation.
So far this season, all those dropped balls have yet to really catch up with Nebraska. When they do put the ball on the turf, the Huskers have recovered a little more than 60 percent of the time this year.
I buy into the view long-held by the geek-tastic fellas over at Football Outsiders that while causing fumbles may be skill, recovering them is random. As such, more and more of those miscues should start going over to NU's opponents at some point.
If that "some point" happens to be Saturday, Texas will be poised to capitalize.
Since Will Muschamp showed up on the scene in 2008 as Texas' defensive coordinator, the Longhorns have excelled at taking the ball away from their opponents. Opponents have already fumbled 12 times against UT through five games this season, though Texas has only recovered three.
When Texas' talented defenders do get their hands on the ball, they have the ability and athleticism to take it to the house.
If the law of averages comes into play this weekend, Big Red could lose some possessions – and possibly some cheap points – to Texas.
To say redshirt freshman quarterback Taylor Martinez has Nebraska's offense clicking would be an understatement. T-Magic's speed and execution of the zone-read has transformed NU's O from an ugly, plodding attack whose main goal was to not lose games into a unit capable of going the distance any time.
Nebraska has 10 plays of 50-plus this year, most in the country. Seven have come on runs. Martinez has 12 rushes of 20 yards or more already, which also leads the nation.
Martinez is the real deal, but so is Texas' defense. Nebraska has played a relatively easy schedule so far that has featured some flat-out bad defenses. Texas will be the first opponent to really get physical with Martinez and the rest of the Nebraska offense. How will the Huskers respond when someone hits them back?
Muschamp-ing at the Bit
The Texas D has suffered some hits to its bad-ass image in the last two games, but it is still, in fact, a bad-ass unit. The Horns are No. 1 in the country in yards allowed per play at a stellar 3.8. Most importantly for Nebraska, opponents are rushing for just 2.6 yards per attempt against UT.
After UCLA gashed Texas on the ground for 264 yards, averaging nearly five yards per carry, the Horns bowed up in the Red River Shootout. OU ran for 124 yards, but the Sooners averaged fewer than 2.5 yards per attempt.
Will Muschamp has had two weeks to get after his defensive unit ready for Martinez and the zone-read. If UT can slow down the NU run game and force the Huskers to go to the air, the Horns have a shot at the upset.
Returning to that UCLA debacle, the Longhorns offense really put the D in some bad spots.
The Bruins got a cheap touchdown when Curtis Brown fumbled a punt on Texas' own 4. Back-to-back turnovers in the second quarter in Texas territory helped contribute to the Longhorn's 10-point halftime deficit. That was all she wrote.
Can Texas play field position Saturday? The Horns can't give Nebraska short fields. Presumably, Mack worked to clean some of that up during the bye week.
The real issue for Texas in this game isn't Nebraska's spectacular running game, but the Longhorns' own offense. Coordinator Greg Davis has had two weeks to prepare a game plan for his struggling offense. (My advice: give up side to side in favor of up and down.) Unfortunately for the Burnt Orange, that's not his strong suit.
Maybe having Mike Davis back at receiver will make a big difference. Maybe D.J. Monroe now knows more than three plays. Maybe Texas' o-line put it together in the last two weeks.
I expect to see a top-notch effort out of Texas' defense. Giving Muschamp this much time to get his unit ready means trouble for any opponent.
Way more often that not, though, I've seen Greg Davis lead his offensive charges into battle with an underwhelming plan of attack. Why expect anything less now?
Nebraska 19, Texas 13.