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Blackshirts don't have black eyes after this battle

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LINCOLN — So what is a worse feeling for Nebraska's defense?

A) A 60-point road loss to Texas Tech in a 70-10 game last year that it had no chance to win.

B) Rallying from a 21-0 deficit, only to drop a 34-31 heartbreaker at home to the Red Raiders on a fourth-down pass with 12 seconds left.

"Last year was way worse," Nebraska junior defensive end Jay Moore said. "I can't even compare the two because this year, even though we were down 21-0, we were calm. The defense was calm because we knew it was going to be a long game. We fought. We did everything we could."

And then some.

The Blackshirts limited Texas Tech's top-ranked passing and scoring offense to 145 yards on 33 snaps after it plowed to a three-touchdown lead with 9 minutes, 25 seconds left in the second quarter.

The Red Raiders racked up 267 yards on their initial 35 offensive plays.

"We were the better team," Nebraska sophomore linebacker Bo Ruud said. "We beat them for three quarters. We gave it up there in the end."

Nebraska (4-1 overall, 1-1 in the Big 12 Conference) forced three punts, two field goals, a fumble and interception after Nos. 13 and 14 Texas Tech (5-0, 2-0) scored on three of its initial four possessions.

"We knew at times they would move the ball on us," Nebraska defensive coordinator Kevin Cosgrove said. "They prepared for a long game, which it was. Our coverage was pretty good. We did a lot of good things. We took away some of their good stuff."

Then the Blackshirts, who used a three-down linemen set and dime coverage after the early offensive onslaught, helped take away Texas Tech's commanding lead.

Moore forced Texas Tech quarterback Cody Hodges to fumble early in the fourth quarter.

That was recovered by Ruud, who rambled 46 yards to the Red Raider 14-yard line.

Terrence Nunn's 4-yard touchdown reception capped the four-play drive to give Nebraska a 28-27 edge with 10:10 left in the game.

"I thought offensively we started real well," Texas Tech coach Mike Leach said. "I thought Nebraska tried very hard to break our rhythm, and they took some risks to do it and they paid off for them. It took us a while to find our way out of the hole."

Texas Tech ultimately fell behind thanks to a pair of third-quarter drives.

The Blackshirts had their backs to the wall when the Husker offense turned the ball over on consecutive third-quarter possessions.

Texas Tech set up shop at the Nebraska 20- and 9-yard line on its first two drives after halftime.

However, the Red Raiders only produced six points.

only gained one yard on 10 snaps during those two drives.

"We want to be great in the red zone," Cosgrove said.

"They're going to move the ball. They move the ball on everybody. When they got in the red zone, we had to hold them to field goals."

Texas Tech received a final opportunity after Jordan Congdon's 27-yard field goal gave Nebraska a 31-27 cushion with 5:10 remaining.

The dominating Blackshirts couldn't keep Hodges down in the end.

The senior, who hit 34 of 45 passes for 368 yards with four touchdowns and an interception, moved the Red Raiders 73 yards on 11 plays in the final 5:02 to win for the first time at Lincoln in four tries.

"We've been wanting these guys since last year," Ruud said. "Even though we didn't want to make it out like that, in our minds, this is the team we've been dying to get after. We were prepared for them, and we just let it slip."

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