- Associated Press - Tuesday, October 12, 2010

LINCOLN, NEB. (AP) - The red rubber bracelets Nebraska players wear say “FINISH” on one side, “0.01” on the other.

It’s a reminder of the Cornhuskers falling one second short of winning the Big 12 championship and earning a spot in a BCS bowl last year.

The Huskers’ foil, otherwise known as Texas, visits Memorial Stadium on Saturday. Barring a conference championship game rematch, it will be the last meeting between the traditional powers before No. 5 Nebraska leaves for the Big Ten next year.

Defensive lineman Jared Crick isn’t so sure a win on Saturday would make him and his teammates feel much better about the way last year’s game in Arlington, Texas, turned out.

No one around here has forgotten how one second was put back on the clock after a harried Colt McCoy threw out of bounds, giving Texas enough time to kick the field goal that beat Nebraska 13-12.

“The feeling after that game, it’s a taste in our mouths that we’ll never get rid of,” Crick said Tuesday. “Maybe this week we can get some retribution.”

That one loss inspired the bracelets, which were the brainchild of defensive back Wil Richards’ father, Dan Richards, and given to the players over the summer.

The message about finishing applies to everything that happens in practice and in games and reinforces the idea that success can’t be taken for granted, receiver Brandon Kinnie said.

“I don’t take it off,” said Kinnie, with his slightly faded bracelet on his right wrist. “I look at it before every game just to see the ‘finish’ part, to play every game like that.”

Nebraska (5-0, 1-0 Big 12) is coming off a 48-13 win at Kansas State, has its highest ranking since 2001 and has become a bona fide national-title contender. Texas (3-2, 1-1) has lost two straight.

Saturday’s game has huge implications for the rest of the season for both teams. But Nebraska coach Bo Pelini has spent the early part of the week fending off questions that look back, about exacting revenge for last year.

His players have mostly followed the party line, but Kinnie acknowledged that avenging the loss is “a tad” of motivation.

Kinnie said he’s still haunted by memories of catching what would have been the go-ahead touchdown pass in the fourth quarter, only to be ruled just inches out of bounds on third-and-goal from the 11.

“I could have scored, and I believe we could have won,” Kinnie said. “We’re focusing a lot on this season, but you can’t help but have a little feeling about it from last year.”

The Huskers, who sacked McCoy nine times in a dominating defensive performance, rushed the field thinking they’d won when McCoy threw a pass out of bounds and the clock showed all zeros. But officials immediately asked for a replay, which showed 1 second left when the ball hit the railing of a luxury suite about 15 yards behind the sideline. The rules say the clock runs until the ball hits something.

Hunter Lawrence came on to kick the 46-yard game-winner.

“You go from an all-time high to an all-time low pretty quick,” Crick said.

Receiver Mike McNeill said, “We were angry, we were upset, sad. In some ways you felt you were wronged. It was definitely a tough loss and it was hard to walk off the field and not have won the game.”

The volatile Pelini shouted on his way to the locker room that time was put back on the clock to help get Texas into the BCS national championship game.

Pelini’s opinion has changed since then.

“In the end they got the call right,” he said. “You look back and you understand you didn’t make enough plays to win the football game, and we had our opportunities. We always talk about the margin of error being so small in whether you win or lose, and I think that game showed it.”

Texas coach Mack Brown said he doubts Nebraska needs to use revenge for fuel this week.

“They played as hard as they could in the championship game and they played great, and they’re going to play as hard as they can Saturday,” Brown said. “When the Longhorn and the ‘N’ on the two helmets get together, those kids are going to fight their guts out and both fan bases are going to be pumped.”

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