Lincoln - Missouri's high-powered offense operated with machine-like precision, as the No. 4 Tigers ended a 30-year losing streak in Lincoln with a 52-17 victory over Nebraska on Homecoming at Memorial Stadium on Saturday night.
Playing in front of the NCAA record 294th consecutive sellout at Memorial Stadium and an ESPN national prime-time audience, the Huskers watched Heisman Trophy hopeful Chase Daniel lead Missouri on scoring drives on eight of its first nine possessions in the opening three quarters to take a commanding 52-10 lead. The only drive the Tigers did not score with Daniel on the field came on their final drive of the first half when they attempted a 59-yard field goal as time expired after starting the drive with 16 seconds remaining in the half.
Daniel led a balanced and efficient MU attack that amassed 412 total yards in the first three quarters, including 253 passing yards and 159 rushing yards. Sophomore tailback Derrick Washington carried the rushing load for the Tigers by rolling up 139 yards and two touchdowns on just 14 carries in the first three quarters, while adding a receiving touchdown as well. For the game, MU finished with 462 total yards, including 261 passing and 201 on the ground.
Missouri improved to 5-0 on the season while opening Big 12 Conference action with a victory, while Nebraska slipped to 3-2 overall and 0-1 in the league.
The success of the MU offense allowed the Tigers to post their first win in Lincoln since a 35-31 victory over the Huskers in 1978. The victory was also the largest win ever by a Tiger team in Lincoln, surpassing a 31-0 MU win on Nov. 1, 1958.
Daniel did not play in the fourth quarter, giving way to senior quarterback Chase Patton and freshman quarterback Blaine Gabbert on MU's lone drive of the quarter, which ate up 8:30 on the clock. Daniel completed 18-of-23 passes on the night with three touchdowns.
Nebraska quarterback Joe Ganz actually surpassed Daniel's passing yardage total by completing 26-of-38 passes for 290 yards and two scores. Ganz's last score came on a 20-yard strike to Menelik Holt as time expired. Ganz also threw one interception. Senior wide receiver Todd Peterson was Ganz's favorite target, hauling in seven receptions for 81 yards. Fellow senior Nate Swift added five catches for 45 yards and a score, while Holt added five receptions of his own for 67 yards and a touchdown.
For the night, Nebraska managed 369 total yards, including 290 through the air and 79 rushing yards on 35 attempts. NU, which won the time of possession battle by holding the ball for 33:57, committed a pair of turnovers while MU did not turn the ball over.
Missouri scored on the game's third play from scrimmage on a 58-yard touchdown pass from Daniel to Jeremy Maclin. The Huskers blitzed Daniel, who hit Maclin on a crossing route right before being hit hard. Maclin made one Husker miss at midfield and sprinted down the Nebraska sideline to paydirt to give the Tigers a quick 7-0 lead less than one minute into the game. Maclin finished the night with five catches for 89 yards.
Missouri's lead was short-lived though, as Nebraska marched 60 yards on its opening drive capped by Ganz's 20-yard touchdown pass to Swift on third-and-eight to tie the score. The Huskers' seven-play drive took 4:06 and included a 27-yard completion from Ganz to Roy Helu Jr. NU took advantage of MU's kickoff that went out of bounds to start the Husker drive at the NU 40.
Missouri provided an answer of its own with an eight-play, 80-yard drive that took 3:02 and culminated with Washington's three-yard touchdown run. The MU drive, which was aided by a 15-yard roughing the passer penalty and a 15-yard pass interference penalty in the end zone, put the Tigers up 14-7 with 6:53 left in the opening quarter. For the night, NU was flagged for 14 penalties and 101 yards, while MU was flagged just once for 15 yards.
The Tigers extended their advantage to 17-7 with 10:54 left in the second quarter on Jeff Wolfert's 48-yard field goal. Missouri's drive went 12 plays and 61 yards in 5:15, after being buried inside its own 10 on a Dan Titchener punt. The Tigers had stopped a promising Husker drive with back-to-back sacks of Ganz, after NU had driven inside potential field goal range.
After another Missouri defensive stop, Missouri scored on its fourth consecutive possession with a 10-play, 75-yard scoring drive that was capped by Jimmy Jackson's one-yard touchdown run with 4:08 left to put the Tigers up 24-7.
Missouri's defense then put the game out of reach when Brock Christopher picked off a Ganz pass intended for Holt, and returned it 17 yards for a touchdown to put the Tigers ahead 31-7 with three minutes left in the half.
The Huskers kept battling, driving 58 yards on 12 plays in 2:31 to trim MU's lead to 31-10 at the half on Alex Henery's 28-yard field goal with 22 seconds left in the second quarter.
Nebraska had a chance to put a dent in the MU lead with the opening drive of the second half, but the Huskers stalled at midfield, and after a three-yard punt by Titchener, the Tigers bolted 52 yards to paydirt capped by Daniel's seven-yard touchdown pass to Washington. The sophomore tailback then sprinted 43 yards for a touchdown on MU's next drive, before Daniel capped Missouri's scoring with a 26-yard scoring strike to Danario Alexander following a Husker fumble late in the third quarter.
Nebraska will hit the road for the first time next Saturday when the Huskers take on a top 10 Texas Tech team in Lubbock on Oct. 11. Kickoff is set for 2 p.m. with live national television coverage provided by FSN.
Scoring (#4 Missouri 52, Nebraska 17)
Saturday, Oct. 4, 2008
Memorial Stadium (Lincoln, Neb.)
First Quarter (Missouri 14, Nebraska 7)
MU - Jeremy Maclin 58 pass from Chase Daniel (Jeff Wolfert kick), 14:01
NU - Nate Swift 20 pass from Joe Ganz (Alex Henery kick), 9:55
MU - Derrick Washington 3 run (Wolfert kick), 6:53
Second Quarter (Missouri 31 Nebraska 10)
MU - Wolfert 48 field goal, 10:54
MU - Jimmy Jackson 1 run (Wolfert kick), 4:08
MU - Brock Christopher 17 pass interception (Wolfert kick), 2:59
NU - Henery 28 field goal, 0:22
Third Quarter (Missouri 52, Nebraska 10)
MU - Washington 7 pass from Daniel (Wolfert kick), 7:16
MU - Washington 43 run (Wolfert kick), 2:24
MU - Danario Alexander 26 pass from Daniel (Wolfert kick), 1:32
Fourth Quarter (Missouri 52, Nebraska 17)
NU - Menelik Holt 20 pass from Ganz (Henery kick), 0:00
(Joe Ganz l Nate Swift l Pierre Allen Audio) Nebraska Postgame Notes Nebraska Season Statistics Photo Gallery