BLAND: Communications isn't only major popular for athletes

Evan Bland / Senior news-editorial and broadcasting major

If you're a Cornhusker fan, this one hurt. But it was also an instant classic.

Saturday's Nebraska-Texas game had all the ingredients: two ranked teams matching each other move for move, a national audience and some crazy weather conditions.

Texas, as it so often has against the Huskers, once again played the role of heartbreaker, this time nailing the game-winning field goal with 23 seconds left.

Ryan Bailey, the guy who booted that 22-yarder, was making his first-ever collegiate kick. Bailey, who didn't even appear in the Longhorns' media guide, by the way, was replacing Texas senior kicker Greg Johnson, who didn't exactly inspire Texas Coach Mack Brown after making just two of four kicks earlier in the game.

Yeah, there was a little drama in Lincoln.

This game has a good chance to be Nebraska's most gut-wrenching loss of the year, a la Texas Tech in 2005. But make no mistake, the way the Huskers played Saturday was a statement to the country. NU is indeed a team to be reckoned with.

"I think we had to have (gained some respect)," Nebraska senior quarterback Zac Taylor said. "I think people will notice that, and people will kind of give Nebraska the respect that we deserve."

No one in Huskerville was in a good mood after the game, and rightly so. But imagine if this game had been played last year or the year before, when Nebraska was just learning the basics of Coach Bill Callahan's West Coast offense.

For the first time under their third-year coach, the Huskers were to the point where they could legitimately challenge an elite school.

They very nearly pulled off the upset.

"Two years ago, coming into a game like this, you never would have known how we would have played, but I think we opened a lot of people's eyes with this game," said sophomore wide receiver Nate Swift, who redshirted in 2004, Callahan's first season. "Offense and defense - we played great this game."

So great, in fact, that NU was one play away from its fifth-straight win against a top five-ranked opponent at Memorial Stadium.

That one play, of course, has been tormenting Husker fans for two days now, having been looped over and over again on ESPN's "SportsCenter" and discussed ad nauseam by Nebraska and Texas media alike.

Junior wide receiver Terrence Nunn, the focal point of that play, said, "No, thanks" to talking to media members after the game. Much like Le Kevin Smith shouldered the lion's share of the blame after fumbling away a game-clinching interception against Texas Tech last year, it appears many Husker fans are already vilifying Nunn for his fumble that led to Texas' game-winning field goal.

If you don't believe it, just look up "Terrence Nunn" on Facebook. As of Sunday afternoon, there were five groups and more than 200 people in groups questioning the dexterity of Nunn's hands in one way or another.

There's little doubt that if that fumble didn't occur, Nebraska would have won. Still, anyone putting all the blame on Nunn is overlooking the fact NU had three turnovers against a top team, from which the Longhorns got 10 points. The Huskers also failed on a two-point conversion earlier in the quarter that would have made Bailey's kick good for a tie, not a win.

For the record, I'd also like to give kudos to Callahan for passing on Nunn's third-down play. For a coach who was criticized for being too conservative in Nebraska's loss to Southern California last month, Callahan went for the jugular Saturday, calling for a pass instead of running the ball into a stacked Texas defensive line.

The look of chagrin on Callahan's face at the final gun was telling. He knew this was his team's game to lose. So did national voters, apparently, as Nebraska only fell four spots in the polls, to No. 20.

Nebraska was close, excruciatingly close.

But close doesn't count, not in the Big 12 standings anyway.

Still, remember this game. Remember it as the one that almost broke the Texas hexes, the one with the snow.

Remember it as the day Nebraska got its mojo back.