LUBBOCK, Texas (AP)—Texas Tech cornerback Jamar Wall saw Nebraska’s quarterback scramble and started to charge.
Joe Ganz wanted to throw the ball out of bounds. He missed his target.
“He basically threw it right to me,” Wall said.
Wall’s pick preserved a 37-31 overtime victory for No. 7 Texas Tech against Nebraska on Saturday.
Eric Morris gave the Red Raiders (6-0, 2-0 Big 12) a lead with a 1-yard run around right end on the first possession of overtime, but freshman Donnie Carona’s extra point was partially blocked and short, and that left the door open for Nebraska to win it with seven.
Wall made the mistake moot.
“I thought he was going to try and throw it over me. I was getting ready to jump, and he threw it right to my chest and I was just like, ‘OK,”’ he said.
Ganz was trying to throw it away, but got grabbed from behind as he was throwing.
“It’s just a sick feeling to end it like that after we played so hard and so well,” Ganz said.
Texas Tech’s Graham Harrell, who threw for two touchdowns and ran for another, was 20-of-25 for 284 yards, his lowest total since 2006.
It’s probably no consolation to Nebraska, but this was far better than the last time the Huskers came to Lubbock. Texas Tech laid the worst loss in school history, 70-10, on Big Red in 2004.
“It’s not fun whether you lose in overtime or you get beat by five touchdowns like last week,” receiver Todd Peterson said. “There’s no moral victories, we came in here to win and we can play with these teams and we’ve got to come out with that attitude.”
Nebraska (3-3) is 0-2 in conference for the first time since 1968 and has now lost the three straight against Texas Tech. The Huskers are winless in 11 straight against opponents ranked in the Top 10.
Texas Tech matched the longest single-season streak without a loss in nine years under Mike Leach.
“It was really a strange game,” Leach said. “I haven’t been in one like this.”
And Leach’s team provided the strangest moment.
On fourth-and-5 from his own 36 with 4:30, Leach sent his offense out to try to draw Nebraska offside.
The Huskers stayed put, but center Stephen Hamby snapped the ball anyway. So Harrell went deep to All-American Michael Crabtree, who made a the catch for 47 yards.
“If he was just a little covered, I would go to him,” Harrell said. “I threw it up there and he made the play.”
A few plays later, Harrell took it in on a sneak to put Tech up 31-24.
Ganz, who finished with 349 yards, brought the Huskers (3-3, 0-2) back quickly. Peterson caught two passes from Ganz for 11 yards. Then the two connected for a 17-yard TD with 29 seconds left to tie the game.
Nebraska trailed throughout but got back in on a gamble. Jake Wesch came in to hold for a field goal early in the fourth quarter but instead threw for a first down to Mike McNeill on a fake to give Nebraska a first down at the 1.
Ganz took it in for a score with a sneak to pull Nebraska within 24-17 with 12:10 remaining.
After holding Texas Tech to its first three-and-out, the Huskers went 68 yards to tie it at 24-24 with about six minutes remaining. Ganz hit Dreu Young for a 2-yard TD score.
Nebraska did a good job of keeping the ball out of the hands of Texas Tech’s high-powered offense. The Huskers had a balanced attack, running the ball almost as many times as they passed. They got their lone score of the first half following an eight-minute drive, and the Huskers got such good yardage on first and second downs that they rarely faced much on third down.
But Texas Tech was able to score more in half the time the Huskers held the ball.
Nebraska ran 80 plays and held the ball for 40:12. The Huskers also had more first downs, 29-16.
“That’s a game plan a lot of people have against us and Nebraska today has done the best job since I’ve been here,” Harrell said.
After holding onto the ball for more than five minutes late in the first half, Nebraska came up short on a fourth-and-1 at the Texas Tech 30. The Red Raiders wasted little time with Harrell hitting Edward Britton on a 56-yard pass to the Nebraska 9. Three plays later, Shannon Woods went 4 yards into the end zone to put the Red Raiders up 17-7.
“Ultimately, we didn’t make enough plays in time to get it in the end,” Huskers coach Bo Pelini said. “We made some mistakes and there are plays out there on the field that we will regret that could have helped us win the football game, but we didn’t do it.”
Crabtree got the Red Raiders first score and a school record for career TDs (31) when he caught a quick slant and went untouched through the Huskers secondary for 35 yards for a 7-0 lead. He added another touchdown later.