Walk-On Kicker Lifts No. 5 Texas 22-20

Team Infidel

Forum Spin Doctor

Texas coach Mack Brown had some encouraging words for Ryan Bailey before the backup kicker took the field in the final seconds. "You're the luckiest guy in the world," Brown told the sophomore walk-on. "You've got a chance to be Dusty Magnum on your first kick."

Time will tell whether Bailey's 22-yard field goal with 23 seconds left to beat 17th-ranked Nebraska 22-20 ranks alongside Magnum's 37-yarder to defeat Michigan in the Rose Bowl two years ago.

For Bailey's part, he was just happy to be on the travel roster for the fifth-ranked Longhorns. Before Saturday, he said, his biggest accomplishment in football was simply making the team at Texas.

The eyes of Texas, Nebraska and a national television audience were on Bailey after regular kicker Greg Johnson told Brown late in the game that his leg was tightening up. By then Johnson already had missed two field goals and had an extra point blocked.

"I had no idea something like this would happen," Bailey said. "I was here along for the ride."

What a ride it was for both the Longhorns (7-1, 4-0 Big 12) and Cornhuskers (6-2, 3-1).

The Huskers were on the verge of pulling the upset after taking a 20-19 lead with 4:54 left. But Texas caught a huge break when receiver Terrence Nunn fumbled as the Huskers were trying to kill the clock. Marcus Griffin recovered at the Nebraska 44 with 2:17 left.

Colt McCoy, with a 20 mph wind in his face, snow flurries swirling and Vince Young looking on from the sideline, drove the Longhorns to the Nebraska 5 .

Nebraska (6-2, 3-1) tried to ice Bailey when coach Bill Callahan asked officials to review the previous play to see if the Huskers may have intercepted a pass by McCoy in the end zone. Replays clearly showed that the ball bounced on the ground, however, and Bailey didn't seem to mind the delay.

After getting a good-natured slap on the helmet from Brown, he trotted back out onto the field and calmly made the kick.

"I was surprised we got the ball back," Bailey said. "I would have preferred a touchdown. I'm just glad I could make it."

McCoy said he never had a doubt.

"Ryan Bailey steps in and I just said, 'Kick it like you do in practice,'" McCoy said. "He never misses in practice."

Nebraska got two shots at the end zone as the clock ran out - including an untimed down after Texas was called for roughing the passer on what would have been the final play of the game - but both passes from Zac Taylor were broken up.

Texas won its 16th straight road game, extending a school record, and 19th consecutive conference game.

Nebraska, which hasn't beaten a top-10 team since Oklahoma in 2001, lost for the sixth time in seven meetings with Texas since the Big 12 began play in 1996.

Brown said he expects Nebraska to make an appearance in the Big 12 championship game Dec. 2.

"Nebraska is back," Brown said. "For them to keep coming back and back and back - they made big plays throughout the game to put themselves in a position to win. The team I saw today is probably the one someone will see in Kansas City for the Big 12 championship. I hope we get an opportunity for a rematch."

McCoy completed 25 of 39 passes for 220 yards, including touchdown passes of 6 yards to Quan Cosby and 55 yards to Limas Sweed in the second quarter. Jamaal Charles ran nine times for 63 yards.

Taylor was 15-of-28 for 277 yards, including TDs of 63 yards to Maurice Purify and 49 yards to Brandon Jackson. Jackson ran seven times for 40 yards.

Marlon Lucky threw a 25-yard pass to Nate Swift on an I-back pass to put Nebraska ahead 20-19 with 4:54 left.

McCoy and the Longhorns went three-and-out on their next series. Nebraska then tried to run out the clock but was forced to pass on third down. Nunn caught an 8-yarder but lost the ball as he was going down, and Griffin smothered it to give Texas a final chance.

"We had an opportunity to close the game and misfortune occurred," Callahan said. "Victory was more or less swept away on that third-down play."

The Longhorns almost lost the ball themselves when Jordan Shipley fumbled, but offensive lineman Kasey Studdard recovered. After McCoy threw incomplete to Sweed in the end zone on third-and-goal from the 5, Nebraska challenged to see whether Bo Ruud had intercepted the pass.

Video replay confirmed the call on the field, setting up Bailey for his winning kick.

Nebraska pulled to 16-14 on the first play of the fourth quarter on Jackson's 49-yard touchdown off a shovel pass. Jackson shook off Texas' Sergio Kindle and Michael Griffin, then picked up a big block from fullback Dane Todd on his way to the end zone.

Johnson's 22-yard field goal with 6:33 left gave Texas a five-point lead.

Asked whether Bailey would be his kicker next week against Texas Tech, Brown laughed and said he hadn't thought that far ahead.

"I'm just happy with him today," he said.