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College Football
Ivan Maisel
October 19, 1998
Texas S&MThe Aggies beat up Nebraska with a simple mix of smarts and muscle
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October 19, 1998

College Football

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TOP 10

Heavy Hitters

Albus Brooks
SS, Colorado

A 6-foot, 200-pound freshman, Brooks is nicknamed Blackout. Enough said.

Chris Claiborne
LB, USC

The 6'3", 250-pound junior wears the number 55 of Trojans All-Americas Junior Seau and Willie McGinest. With his speed and ferocity, Claiborne is in their class.

Barrett Green
LB, West Virginia

He moved from safety to outside linebacker this season, but the 6'1", 215-pound junior retained his nose for the ball. He leads the team with 70 tackles, 44 of them solo.

Andy Katzenmoyer
LB, Ohio State

Tremors from the Big Kat's monstrous hit on Missouri's Corby Jones last year are still being felt. The 6'4", 255-pound junior benches 450 and is as quick as he is strong.

Jevon Kearse
LB, Florida

Opposing backs marvel at the speed of this 6'5", 254-pound junior (above). A spectacular open-field tackier, he tops the Gators' list in "big plays."

Jeff Kelly
LB, Kansas State

This 6-foot, 245-pound senior drilled Texas's Ricky Williams II times during the Wildcats' 49-7 victory on Sept. 19, helping to hold Williams to a season-low 43 yards.

Corey Moore
DE, Virginia Tech

A 6-foot, 217-pound junior, Moore anchors the Hokies' dominating defense and has eight sacks in five games.

Anthony Poindexter
FS, Virginia

As a freshman playing on the scout team, Poindexter, now 6'1" and 220 pounds, struck fear in his teammates. Since then, he has 327 career tackles.

Montae Reagor
DE, Texas Tech

He forced a fumble on his first play as a freshman and now, as a 6'2", 254-pound senior, has 19½ career sacks, plus the school record for tackles for a loss, with 39.

Ronald Seymour
DE, Florida State

The Seminoles knocked six QBs out of games in '97. The 6'4", 264-pound sophomore made several of those hits.

Texas S&M
The Aggies beat up Nebraska with a simple mix of smarts and muscle

The biggest surprise in Texas A&M's 28-21 upset of Nebraska wasn't the final score. It was that the Aggies had nothing out of the ordinary in their game plan. They simply lined up and beat the Cornhuskers.

"We controlled the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball," A&M coach R.C. Slocum said on Sunday. "With Nebraska, you tend to get too much into, 'We've got to put on trick plays. We've got to do this and that.' A lot of those things backfire. Our plan was to run the ball." Slocum may not wow the coaching-clinic circuit with that plan, but it worked to devastating effect.

The Aggies knew firsthand what the Cornhuskers could do: A veteran Nebraska team had beaten them 54-15 in the Big 12 championship game last December. Slocum, a glass-half-full kind of guy, got something positive out of the rout. Before Saturday's rematch, he says, "we told our players that we have got to get into the game and not get knocked out in the first round." He might have meant that literally. Aggies head trainer, Karl Kapchinski, recalled that in last year's game, "Nebraska beat the crap out of us. We had people drop left and right."

This year it's the Huskers who have been dropping. Four starters on offense, including quarterback Bobby Newcombe and I-back DeAngelo Evans, have missed starts because of injuries. Moreover, not even Nebraska can defy one of the immutable laws of college football: The success of an offense is tied directly to the experience on its line. The Huskers have four new starters up front this season. Normally Nebraska rolls out All-America linemen-five in the last six years—the way San Diego Padres pitcher Kevin Brown strings up zeroes. Not this season.

The Huskers have rushed for 214 yards in their last two games, and they reached that paltry number only after an 83-yard burst in a frantic fourth quarter against Texas A&M. For the season Nebraska has averaged 237.8 rushing yards per game. Though that's good for 11th in the nation, it's abnormal in Lincoln. The Corn-huskers haven't averaged less than 287 yards since 1976.

Aggies defensive coordinator Mike Hankwitz held the same job at Colorado for seven seasons, including the stretch from 1989 to '91, during which the Buffaloes went 2-0-1 against the Huskers. Last Saturday he frequently stunted his three down linemen. "Nebraska is a big, physical line, and we aren't," Slocum said. "We were not going to ask our guys to just sit in there." As a result, the Huskers never found a rhythm in their running game. In the third quarter, trailing 21-7, with fourth-and-two at the Aggies 10, Nebraska coach Frank So-lich called a wingback reverse. A&M cornerback Jason Webster, who was blitzing, and linebacker Warrick Holdman dropped the ballcarrier, Shevin Wiggins, for a four-yard loss. Since when do the Huskers not run between the tackles on fourth-and-two?

"To run our offense you have to run on all cylinders, or you're going to show a weakness," Nebraska receivers coach Ron Brown said afterward. "We weren't running well inside, so they were flying to the outside."

Last season, with two all-conference linemen, including Outland Trophy winner Aaron Taylor at guard, Nebraska allowed four sacks. On Saturday the Aggies sacked Newcombe on three consecutive plays. On the last of those, noseguard Ron Edwards forced Newcombe to fumble the ball into his own end zone, where Holdman fell on it for the touchdown that gave A&M a 21-7 lead.

In losing the game, the defending national co-champion Cornhuskers also lost their 19-game winning streak, their 40-game conference winning streak and their running attack. Nebraska fans might take solace in the fact that in 1996 their inexperienced defending national champions fell to Arizona State 19-0. The following season the Cornhuskers won a share of the national tide.

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