No. 7 Mizzou, No. 14 Neb battle for B12 North lead
Missouri has always had Kansas, and Nebraska used to have
Though Missouri-Nebraska doesn’t have quite the same ring,
passions run as deep as any other rivalry when these teams get
They’ve taken turns making and breaking each other’s seasons in
more than a century’s worth of hard-hitting games. Saturday figures
to be no different when the seventh-ranked Tigers (7-0, 3-0) and
No. 14 Cornhuskers (6-1, 2-1) play for control of the Big 12
Adding some zest to this one: It’s the last football game
between the two before Nebraska heads to the Big Ten – the same
league Missouri had hoped to join during the summer’s conference
”I just know growing up around it, and committing to Nebraska,
how much Missouri fans want to beat Nebraska every year and how
much they dislike Nebraska,” said Huskers linebacker Will Compton,
from Bonne Terre, Mo. ”It’s all in fun and I know in the end they
are pulling my leg about it, but at the same time there is a lot of
turmoil built between fans.”
The players aren’t especially fond of each other, either.
Back in 1982, Nebraska quarterback Turner Gill was knocked
unconscious. In 1979, I-back Jarvis Redwine claimed a knee injury
was the result of Missouri players intentionally diving at his
legs. Two years ago, Missouri quarterback Chase Daniel said a
Nebraska player spit on him.
Nebraska fans, not to mention Missouri fans, will never forget
the 1997 ”Miracle at Missouri” game. Matt Davison’s diving
end-zone catch of a ball popped into the air off teammate Shevin
Wiggins’ foot tied the game on the last play of regulation.
Nebraska won in overtime and went on to win a split national
championship in Tom Osborne’s last year as coach.
In 1978, James Wilder ran for 181 yards and four touchdowns in a
Missouri victory that dashed the second-ranked Huskers’ national
From 1949-69, 16 of the games were decided by 10 points or less,
and one or both of the teams were usually ranked. The Huskers lead
the series 64-35-3, mostly on the strength of a 24-game win streak
that did nothing to endear them to Missouri fans.
”I feel there’s a big brother-little brother sentiment there,”
said Missouri graduate David Singleton, 32, of Las Vegas. ”There
is an air of arrogance, condescension about Nebraska fans. We’ve
livened up a little bit and claimed several games at the end of
this series, and it’s taken on a little more intensity.”
Singleton attended last week’s 36-27 win over then-BCS standings
leader Oklahoma. He said that victory means nothing if the Tigers
don’t beat Nebraska.
”This is the last shot, last chance,” Singleton said. ”We can
win the North if we take them out and give them a going-away
Missouri quarterback Blaine Gabbert is coming off back-to-back
300-yard passing games and will be going against one of the
nation’s top secondaries.
Nebraska quarterback Taylor Martinez has amassed huge rushing
statistics, but he’s yet to prove he can move the ball with
consistency against a top defense. The Tigers are fifth in the
nation in scoring defense (13.1 ppg) and are allowing just 114
yards a game on the ground.
”We’re halfway in the season and it’s time to step it up a
little bit more,” Missouri defensive end Aldon Smith said. ”A lot
of teams get overconfident when they get ranked and once they beat
a couple of teams. We’re still hungry and we know we still have a
long way to go to reach our goals.”
Tigers coach Gary Pinkel said his players have a chemistry
unlike any of his previous teams.
”Our team is better than it was three weeks ago, and we keep
improving,” he said. ”Every coach wants his team to do that. It’s
less than 50 percent of the time that that happens. I feel
fortunate. Every week you play in this league, every game gets
bigger and bigger.”