AUSTIN, Texas -- Once Texas figured out it should be running against one of the nation's worst run defenses, things turned out all right for the Longhorns.
Jamaal Charles ran for a career-high 290 yards -- 216 yards and three long touchdowns in the fourth quarter -- to carry the No. 17 Longhorns to a 28-25 win on Saturday.
The Cornhuskers fourth straight loss, their longest streak since 1961, is sure to put more heat on beleaguered coach Bill Callahan, whose future with the Huskers beyond this season is in the hands of former coach and interim athletic director Tom Osborne.
For Texas coach Mack Brown, the win was No. 100 with the Longhorns.
"A hundred is nice," Brown said. "I knew the game was going to come down like it did. It didn't surprise me. They made sure that I'll remember it the rest of my life."
The Longhorns (7-2, 3-2 Big 12) spent three quarters trying to pass against one of the worst rush defenses in the country and Nebraska (4-5, 1-4) led 17-9 to start the fourth behind two touchdown passes from Sam Keller to Nate Swift.
Then Texas started using the zone-read option and the running game quickly started piling up yards and points. Three running plays covered 75 yards on Texas' first touchdown drive and Charles' second TD gave Texas its first lead since the first quarter.
"It was my time to show everyone what I can do," said Charles, who now has 1,012 and 11 TDs this season. "When I saw a hole, I blasted through it."
Charles passed Oklahoma's Billy Simms' 247 yards in 1979 as the most yards gained against the Cornhuskers. He broke free for touchdown runs of 25, 86 and 40 yards and his rushing total was the fourth highest in Texas history.
"It was a huge relief to see a running back breaking away down the field," said Texas guard Chris Hall. "In the fourth quarter we popped a few."
Texas turned exclusively to its running game almost by chance and only after a hard hit on quarterback Colt McCoy.
McCoy was shaken up when he scrambled outside the pocket and the Longhorns were forced to use freshman John Chiles. His one play, a zone-read handoff to Charles, produced 24 yards and suddenly Texas had figured out how to beat a Cornhuskers' team that had been steamrolled on the ground in recent weeks. Texas only threw three passes in the fourth quarter.
"When I got back in the huddle I could see the fire in the linemen's eyes," McCoy said. "I could tell there was something different. It seemed like we had the momentum from that point on. It was big for us."
The Cornhuskers, whose season only gets worse every week, showed some fight after being outscored 122-34 in their last three games. They desperately tried to hang onto their lead and nearly rallied at the end.
"It was real heartfelt. I thought they gave everything they had," Callahan said.
Keller connected with Swift for scores from 24 and 23 yards out. The defense dogged McCoy most of the afternoon with a fierce pass rush that blitzed nearly every play and delivered several hard hits.
Keller was knocked out of the game late and Joe Ganz fired a 4-yard TD pass to Maurice Purify with 1:55 to play. A 2-point conversion pass cut the Texas lead to 3 but the Longhorns' Brandon Foster recovered the onside kick.
"We've never been so sick of losing in our entire lives," Huskers defensive back Ben Eisenhart said. "We're so tired of losing and going to class and everybody asking you questions and it's just a real downer."
It was four years ago against Nebraska that Texas unveiled its zone read with quarterback Vince Young and the Longhorns rolled to a 31-7 victory, a game that helped push former Cornhuskers coach Frank Solich out of his job.
Texas has moved away from that offense with McCoy who's not the same running threat Young was. Yet the Longhorns seemed to have paid little attention to how teams have battered the Nebraska defense on the ground this season. The Longhorns had more pass attempts (18) than rushes (17) in the first half and managed only one field goal.
McCoy, who was 12-of-28 for 181 yards, didn't throw a touchdown pass for the first time this season.
"It took a whole half to figure out what was going to work," McCoy said. "I've never been in a game where they blitzed every play."