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NCAA Football Preview (Texas-Nebraska)
Posted: Tues October 27, 1998 at 5:33 p.m. ESTTexas (5-2) at Nebraska (7-1) 3:30 pm EST
LINCOLN, Nebraska (Ticker) -- In a rematch of the 1996 Big 12 Conference championship game, Nebraska finally gets a chance to extract some revenge when it hosts Texas and record-setting running back Ricky Williams. In 1996, then- Nebraska won the Big 12 North Division and was a heavy favorite against inconsistent Texas, the South champion, which was unranked. But the Longhorns rolled up 503 yards of total offense, including 353 through the air by James Brown, and watched the running game take off with some big plays. But it was not Williams with big yardage, it was Priest Holmes that ran for 120 yards and three touchdowns on just nine carries as the Longhorns captured the first-ever Big 12 title and spoiled Nebraska's season. But the coaching staff and the star of the team are different now for Texas, which is guided by Mack Brown and relies on Williams' amazing brand of power and speed running. Williams is the leading candidate for the Heisman Trophy with 1,484 yards rushing -- more than all but 18 Division I-A teams -- and 24 touchdowns. Williams already holds NCAA records with 71 total touchdowns, 69 rushing scores and 428 points. Though the total would be a single-game NCAA record, it should be noted that Williams can become the all-time leading rusher in NCAA history with 444 yards in this game. He can also break the record for most multi-touchdown games, unknotting a tie at 20 with Anthony Thompson. "His size, he weighs about 225, his speed, because he can outrun the defensive backs to the corner (are most impressive)," said Brown of Williams. "But he's the only big back that I've seen that can outrun people. He can catch the ball out of the backfield and he is one of the best blockers I've seen out of the backfield. Anytime Ricky plays, its a marquee defense. It will put a lot of pressure on Ricky this weekend. There aren't many people who have run up and down the field on Nebraska." The Cornhuskers rank 17th in the nation against the run at over 106 yards per game and are sixth in scoring defense with 12.8 points per contest. But the best way to stop Williams is to keep him off the field. That is the job of the ball-control offense, though who will be the quarterback is a matter that could be a game-time decision. "We'll hold any kind of judgement about quarterback until we are sure of Bobby (Newcombe's) health," said Nebraska coach Frank Solich. "With a PCL (posterior cruciate ligament), generally they respond quicker and better than what his has responded. Once we got to where we had to make that decision, we felt he was getting better and would continue to get better. But it's becoming obvious that he has hit a point where it's not getting any better." If Newcombe cannot play, that leave's last weekend's hero, Monte Christo. Christo ran for two touchdowns and 67 yards in a 20-13 nail-biter over Missouri, rallying a sluggish offense in the second half.
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