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Texas' Brown has handled Nebraska since '98

Texas coach Mack Brown needs something to turn around a season teetering on collapse.

How about the Nebraska Cornhuskers?

No. 7 Nebraska (5-0, 1-0 Big 12) will be favored to beat Texas (3-2) next weekend in Lincoln, but there's no escaping history that shows Texas and Brown have had little trouble with the Cornhuskers since the berth of the Big 12.

Brown is 7-1 against Nebraska since 1998, including several of his biggest wins with the Longhorns.

And don't think Brown, who cut his coaching teeth against Nebraska in the old Big 8 conference as an assistant at Iowa State and Oklahoma, isn't quietly proud of that record.

With Nebraska bolting the Big 12 for the Big Ten next season, next Saturday could be the last time these league heavyweights play each other.

"I'm sorry that Texas and Nebraska won't be playing in the future," Brown said.

With that record, it's easy to see why. Brown also has deep respect for a program that he considers among the greats in the game.

In 1979, Brown left a job at Memphis to go to Iowa State specifically so he could coach against Nebraska's Tom Osborne and Oklahoma's Barry Switzer.

"They were winning and I wanted to see how they did it ... Coach Osborne was a guy who I wanted to be just like him," Brown said.

The young coach marveled not just at the success on the field but also the Nebraska fan support.

"They were all wearing red before fans did that sort of stuff," Brown said.

"Everything they had," he said, "is what I wanted."

Once he got to Texas, Brown started beating Nebraska. Again and again and again — in agonizing fashion for Huskers fans.

In 1998, Brown took his first Texas team into Lincoln and ended the Cornhuskers' 47-game home winning streak. Nebraska beat Texas in the 1999 Big 12 championship, but Brown has been getting the best of the Huskers ever since.

In 2002, Texas returned to Lincoln and did it again, snapping the Huskers' 26-game home winning streak. For 11 years, the only team to go into Lincoln and win was Texas.

Texas started its run of dominance over Nebraska in 1996, when the Longhorns, three-touchdown underdogs, shocked the defending national champions 37-27 in the Big 12 championship game.

Brown knows the Longhorns will play a Nebraska program itching to unleash 14 years of payback and sensing a wounded Texas team primed for a pounding.

Brown expects his last trip into Lincoln to be a memorable one.

"Now we're on the edge of history," Brown said. "For a young guy who grew up in Cookeville, Tenn. ... Nebraska is still big to me. It's still a moment that regardless of how we play and how the game comes out, there are moments in your life that are historical and you will remember them. I'll remember going to Nebraska for the last time."

Texas has its problems with an offense struggling to score touchdowns. Quarterback Garrett Gilbert has yet to produce the sort of game-saving magic that defined Colt McCoy's career.

McCoy beat Nebraska three times. The last win came in last season's Big 12 championship game when game officials put 1 second back on the clock after a pass out of bounds, allowing Texas to kick the winning field goal — angering the Huskers and coach Bo Pelini.

The Texas defense also has struggled the past two weeks, with sloppy play helping UCLA and Oklahoma put together game-changing scoring drives.

Brown has shown he can fix problems post-Oklahoma. He is 12-0 in the first game after the biggest game on Texas' schedule every season, with five of those wins coming against ranked teams.

Nebraska will be the highest-ranked opponent of that bunch and it will be the first time since 2002 that Texas had to play a ranked team on the road after facing the Sooners.

Win and Texas ends a two-game crisis — and the rivalry — with another heartbreaker for Nebraska.

Lose and the Longhorns are stuck in the long slog of a rebuilding year just one season after they played for the national championship.

"Games like this one are games coaches live for," Brown said. "You want that moment. You want that chance. Everything will be against us. That's a cool challenge for these coaches and a team that's got some growing up to do."