COLLEGE STATION, Texas - Texas A&M's Kyle Field is home of the legendary 12th Man, but the one that the Nebraska football team ran into on Saturday wasn't wearing maroon and white.
The 12th Man that slowed down the Huskers on Saturday was wearing a black and white officiating jersey. In all, NU (9-2, 5-2) was penalized a school record 16 times for 145 yards in a 9-6 loss to the hands of the Aggies (8-3, 5-2) in front of a Kyle Field record crowd of 90,079.
The 145 penalty yards broke the previous record of 141 yards set back during the 1980 season against Penn State. Most of the damage for the Huskers in that number was done on personal fouls or unsportsmanlike conduct penalties, as NU was penalized six times in that category on Saturday night.
An emotional NU head coach Bo Pelini refused to let any players and assistant coaches talk after the loss and he only addressed the entire Nebraska media gathering for around 5 minutes.
"I told them the game is irrelevant," Pelini said. "In the end we still control our own destiny.
"If we take care of business next Friday we'll give ourselves a chance at the league championship. That's our main focus any way."
Redshirt freshman quarterback Taylor Martinez got the start for the Huskers on Saturday, but left the game in the first quarter after reinjuring his ankle when junior center Mike Caputo accidently got tangled up with him after a play was over. Martinez was replaced by sophomore Cody Green, who played total of five series in the first and second quarter on Saturday night.
Martinez didn't return back to the game until the start of the third quarter, as x-rays from the locker room were negative on his injured right ankle injury.
Texas A&M took a 6-3 lead to start the fourth quarter on a 15 play 79 yard drive that was capped off by a 28 yard field goal by kicker Randy Bullock.
A&M was helped on the drive by two crucial pass interference calls, one that happened on a third-and-8 that moved the ball from the 35 yard line to the 50.
"Like I said you guys can make your own deductions," Pelini said of the penalties. "All you have to do is look at the numbers."
Nebraska answered though after A&M's scoring drive with a 12 play 83 yard drive of their own that was capped off by a Alex Henery 29 yard field goal.
Even on that scoring drive the Huskers fought through two different major penalties. On the kickoff return defensive end Eric Martin was flagged with a personal foul, despite the fact the kick went through the end zone for a touchback. Pelini than was flagged with an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty of his own for arguing the call on Martin.
The Huskers started that drive from their own 5 yard line, but still were able to put together a scoring drive to tie the game at 6-6.
On the ensuing possession the Aggies took over with 8:31 left and appeared to be on the verge of punting the ball away after a Ryan Tannehill pass to Kenric McNeal sailed incomplete to force a fourth-and-11 on the Nebraska 49. However, after the play was over sophomore Nebraska safety Courtney Osborne was flagged with a roughing the passer penalty that eventually helped A&M set up the game winning field goal with 3:02 left in the fourth quarter.
Pelini said he was given no explanation for the call on Osborne, but in so many words he said A&M shouldn't have scored those points because they were stopped.
"I thought our defense played well for the most part," Pelini said. "We made some mistakes, but to hold them to 6 points, they got 9, but we held them to 6."
Nebraska got one last crack at it, but a Martinez fourth-and-14 pass to Mike McNeill was caught out of bounds.
Pelini said all his team can do right now is move on from Saturday's loss and shift their focus to Friday's Colorado game in Lincoln.
"It didn't happen for us tonight," Pelini said. "We are moving onto Colorado. In the end, we can still control what we want to do. We are moving on."
Pelini has no comment on sideline incident with Martinez
There was a series of events captured in the second quarter on Saturday where Pelini got in the face of Martinez.
It appeared Martinez said something to Pelini from the sidelines, which triggered him to get in his face with his finger pointed right at him.
When asked what the confrontation was about, Pelini offered no comment on Saturday.
"I can't talk about that," Pelini said. "That had nothing to do with his injury."
As for Martinez's overall performance, Pelini said he had his ups and downs against the Aggies, but it was too early to say how well he played.
"I'll have to look at the film and see it," Pelini said. "I don't think he played well. He did some things ok, but he missed some open receivers. He did ok. It was good that he came back out there and sucked it up for us (after the ankle injury)."