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06

Last time Mizzou went to Lincoln was fun.  Mizzou won by five touchdowns. (photo from rockmnation.com).

I have to admit, I'm kind of sad this is Mizzou's last game with Nebraska.  Sure, those arrogant classy fans up there refuse to acknowledge Missouri as a rival, but the truth is, this has developed into a good one lately.  Nub fans will point to their storied past and their dominance throughout the 80's and 90's all day long however, recently this matchup has been even.  Missouri has won four of seven, including three of its last five games against the nubs.  If Mizzou wins tomorrow, the Tigers will be 5-5 against the Huskers all-time under Gary Pinkel.  The winner of this game has determined the Big 12 North's winner the last four years.  It will again this year.  Yes, Husker fans, this has become a rivalry.

If you listen to national "experts," Mizzou stands no chance tomorrow.  The Tigers might as well save the travel expenses and not even make the trip to Lincoln.  Yet these are the same "experts," who didn't think Mizzou could beat A&M on the road and definitely couldn't knock off mighty Oklahoma this year either.  This team continues to prove critics wrong.  A win tomorrow might still not shut everyone up, but the Tigers record will speak for itself.

Missouri matches up well with Nebraska.  Taylor Martinez is definitely a talented player and poses this biggest threat Mizzou's defense has faced all season.  However, the ability of Mizzou's corners to play one on one coverage will be the key to this game.  Kip Edwards shut down one of the nation's best receivers in Jeff Fuller two weeks ago.  Last week the corners held OU's Ryan Broyles in check.  Niles Paul and Brandon Kinnie are nice receivers but they're not Ryan Broyles and Jeff Fuller.  If Mizzou can keep the nub receivers in check with man to man coverage that will allow more players to focus on Martinez's running ability.

Nub fans are quick to point out Martinez's big game last week.  He threw for 323 yards and five touchdowns.  However, Oklahoma State's pass defense is as bad as anyone in the conference.  What the Husker fans won't tell you is that Martinez was benched in their loss to Texas after going 4 for 12 passing.  Prior to playing Oklahoma State, Martinez was averaging under 130 yards per game passing and had thrown as many touchdowns as interceptions.

As for this expected letdown Missouri is sure to have, forget about it.  Talking to players the night of the Oklahoma win, they were all quick to mention how important the Nebraska game is.  They know what's on the line.  Gary Pinkel has done a great job keeping his team focused.  If Missouri loses, it won't be because they weren't ready.

Offensively, Nebraska's biggest weakness is up front.  Turns out Jared Crick isn't Ndamukong Suh after all.  Without the exact stats handy, I can tell you that the Huskers are poor against the run (ranked in the 70's or 80's against the run) and even worse at pressuring the quarterback.  Yes, the Huskers have very good defensive backs, but give Blaine Gabbert time and I like Mizzou's chances.  Just ask OU what happened when they couldn't pressure Gabbert.

I hate Nebraska.  They're arrogant.  Yes, they have a great history but in reality they've been a pretty middle of the road team lately.  Since 2007 Missouri has seven more wins than Nebraska.  If this game was at home, I don't think it'd be close.  Once again I think Missouri shocks the "experts."  I'm going with a 31-27 Tiger win.  The Nubs get a late score to make it look closer than it actually was.

Quick facts:

 

  • Tigers are 1st in the nation in red zone defense.  Opponents are only scoring on 52% of their trips to the red zone.
  • Mizzou has won 29 straight games when winning the turnover battle
  • Mizzou is 10-3 in its last 13 road games
  • Nebraska's last two home games resulted in a loss to Texas and a 17-3 win over South Dakota State
  • The 2010 senior class will tie a school record for wins by a class (38) with a win tomorrow.
  • Mizzou won at Nebraska 52-17 in 2008.
  • Mizzou has outscored Nebraska in 10 of the last 12 quarters the teams have played.