Nebraska avenged last year's loss to Texas A&M in a big way.
The No. 9 Cornhuskers scored four touchdowns in the second half and used a dominating defensive performance to hand No. 21 Texas A&M its first shutout in 11 years, 37-0 Saturday.
The Huskers sacked A&M's Randy McCown eight times, blocked two field goals and held the Aggies to 118 yards in Nebraska's second shutout of the season.
The Huskers also looked strong on offense, at least in the second half. Dan Alexander and Eric Crouch each ran for more than 100 yards and a touchdown. Correll Buckhalter also ran for a score and Josh Brown kicked three field goals for the Huskers, whose loss at A&M last year snapped a 19-game winning streak.
Nebraska finished with 430 yards, 288 in the second half. But it was the defense that carried Nebraska, which is still in contention for the Big 12 North Division title. Nebraska (8-1, 5-1) is a game behind Kansas State, which visits Lincoln next week.
Leading just 6-0 at halftime after a few close calls inside their own 20, the Huskers shut down the Aggies in the second, not allowing them closer than the Nebraska 37. Nebraska was thinking about the shutout after the offense came to life with three touchdowns in the third quarter.
"I told some of those underclassmen and some of those younger kids if they (the Aggies) score keep on going for doors at the end of the stadium," defensive coordinator Charlie McBride joked. "Maybe that was a little encouragement."
The Aggies (6-3, 3-3), who were beaten 51-6 by Oklahoma two weeks ago, fell two games behind South Division front-runner Texas. McCown, who was averaging 237.6 passing yards per game, completed 11 of 30 passes for 116 yards with four interceptions.
It was the first shuout loss for the Aggies since a 27-0 loss to LSU in 1988.
"We just did not perform our offense. We were very inept," A&M coach R.C. Slocumb said. "We could not run and when we tried to throw we could not protect. It was very disappointing."
Nebraska was held to two field goals and 142 yards in the first half, but wore down A&M's defense in the second half. Crouch, who rushed for 14 yards in the first half, finished with 137 on 15 carries.
Alexander, who ran the ball 20 times for 135 yards, scored Nebraska's first touchdown late in the third on a 6-yard run up the middle. He nearly had another with about 1:30 left in the quarter, but fumbled inside the 5 and the ball rolled in and out of the end zone, giving A&M a touchback.
On the next play, Ralph Brown picked off McCown's pass near the 40 and returned it to the 2. Crouch ran it in untouched to give Nebraska a 23-0 lead.
Backup running back Dahrran Diedrick scored his first career touchdown late in the fourth quarter after Nebraska coach Frank Solich brought in his reserves.
The Huskers got inside the A&M 20 four times in the first half, but came away with just a pair of field goals by Josh Brown. They also blew scoring opportunities when Brown hit the left upright on a 21-yard attempt and Willie Miller fumbled inside the Aggies 10.
"I had to slap myself when we were fumbling and blowing some scoring opportunities in the first half," Solich said. "It was a bit uneasy. But as we kept pressing forward with it, things started to work themselves out and we took control of the game."
The Huskers set up A&M on the first play from scrimmage when Bobby Newcombe fumbled an option pitch and the Aggies recovered at the Nebraska 11.
As sloppy as Nebraska looked, A&M looked worse. The Aggies gained just 4 yards in the first quarter and had two field goals blocked.
McCown fumbled twice, although the Aggies recovered both, and threw two interceptions, including one with 1:20 to play in the second quarter that set up Nebraska's second field goal. Mike Brown caught it near midfield and returned it to the A&M 18 for his second interception of the day.
The Aggies had 46 yards at halftime, 43 coming on passes by McCown.
"All year long we had success throwing the ball," McCown said. "I did not worry (about) today. But they bring so many guys and we did not slow them down."
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