Seeing that the game is less than nine hours away, it's probably almost time to let up on all the chest-puffing and mouth-running and let Missouri and Nebraska decide it on the field already.
Because what good would a historically bitter rivalry be without a few little last-minute projections that are sure to inflate the egos of both sides?
Here are a few predictions to chew on for tonight's game while Tiger and Husker fans continue to compare cup sizes:
I’m guessing fans will see Missouri make its share of big plays on offense, even if it’s pouring rain. But I’m guessing Nebraska, for the most part, will control the game, much in the manner it did at Virginia Tech. This time, however, I predict the Huskers will snare a grand road triumph, at last, something along the lines of 35-28 — sort of like the good ol’ days.
— Lincoln Journal-Star writer Steven M. Sipple
If the Tigers give quarterback Blaine Gabbert enough time to throw, he should carve up a suspect Nebraska linebacking corps. If that does not happen, Missouri could be in trouble. Missouri gets up early, and that helps negate the Nebraska running game, forcing the Cornhuskers' Zac Lee to match passes with Blaine Gabbert. Pick: Missouri, 31-24
— Kansas City Star writer Mike DeArmond
Missouri has more firepower and has the ability to score quicker and from anywhere on the field better than Nebraska can, but the Huskers should be able to power away to keep control of the game, and QB Zac Lee should be ultra-efficient and should keep the chains moving. Missouri will have some impressive moments on offense, but there won't be enough of them. Pick: Nebraska, 29-24
— College Football News staff
Blaine Gabbert has been outstanding so far, with a terrific 11-0 TD-INT ratio, but now he faces his stiffest test. NU's D is holding opposing QBs to just 50 percent on their passes. Mizzou has dominated this series the past two years, outscoring NU 93-23. I'm tempted to go with the Huskers, but I think Gabbert will respond well to the prime-time stage. Pick: Missouri 24-14
— ESPN.com writer Bruce Feldman
Feldman goes on to add: I do want to add a caveat, though: The Huskers have held all four opponents to an aggregate 50.4 completion percentage, second-best in the Big 12. Among all FBS teams, only USC has yet to give up a passing touchdown. Nebraska's given up one, to Virginia Tech. Other than the 81-yard catch and run by the Hokies in the closing minutes of Tech's comeback win three weeks ago, the Huskers have given up seven completions of 20 yards or more, including four that gained 32 yards or more.
It's a highly important, pressure-packed clash in the Big 12 North. ESPN's carrying the matchup nationally, and whether you want to characterize the Nebraska-Missouri game as a rivalry or not, it's clear that emotions will be heightened. Big plays and unexpected momentum shifts are expected as a couple of talented quarterbacks will make their conference debuts. But ultimately, the game will be determined by the big-bodied mammoths up front. And NU's lines, both offensively and defensively, seem better equipped to physically control their counterparts. Pick: Nebraska, 31-24
— Omaha World-Herald writer Jon Nyatawa
I always go with what my stats tell me, and in this case, they're projecting an extremely tight Missouri win. Since the weather doesn't give an obvious advantage to one team or the other, we will go with that. Pick: Missouri by 1.
To be objective, I would favor Missouri in this game. I think Nebraska is very limited offensively and overrated a bit on defense. They did well against an anemic Virginia Tech offense and still managed to lose the game. I think Missouri has dynamic receivers and a much better offense than Nebraska has faced this year. Playing in Columbia, Nebraska will get rattled. Lee is not that great of a quarterback quite yet and I think Mizzou can successfully put 8 in the box and stop them and force Lee to beat them. I like Mizzou's receivers a lot and their QB will likely get it done when push comes to shove. I think 31-17 Mizzou.
— BornJHawk, an apparent KU fan, practicing some surprising objectivity on the Inside Mizzou message board
According to the Associated Press poll, it's No. 21 Nebraska at No. 24 Missouri. For USA Today, it's No. 22 Nebraska at No. 18 Missouri. Basically what that means is nobody knows what the hell to make of this game. Nobody knows how good these two teams are. And I don't know what to tell you. I don't have much more of a clue than anyone else. But let's just entertain the idea that I'm right, for my sake. I have two predictions. It will be Missouri 38-6 or Nebraska 41-17.
— The Maneater (Mizzou student paper) writer Matt Gerstner, playing the conservative card
The Cornhuskers have been waiting for their shot at the Tigers for a long time, particularly after losing the last two games to the Tigers by a combined margin of 93-23. That hasn’t gone down smoothly for the Cornhuskers and particularly Bo Pelini, who has never beaten Missouri after also losing to them as Nebraska's defensive coordinator in 2003. I think that trend changes Thursday night in the slop in Columbia, Mo., where I look for the Cornhuskers to dominate in the trenches. If the weather is nasty, as expected, I think the running of Roy Helu Jr. becomes even more effective. Missouri quarterback Blaine Gabbert will have his moments with his talented crew of athletic receivers. But I just don’t think the Missouri offensive line can keep Ndamukong Suh, Barry Turner, Pierre Allen and Jared Crick away for the whole game. Pick: Nebraska, 38-31
— ESPN.com Big 12 blogger Tim Griffin
The Tigers are playing at home and boast an air attack that’s one of the best in the nation, but the defense has been susceptible. The Huskers defense has proven its mettle and its offense has also been productive. Both teams are coming off of bye weeks and will be rested and ready to roll this Thursday night at 9:00 p.m. EDT. The Big Red will be able to rely on their strong running game to control the clock and the game. They will prove they’re ready to contend for the Big 12 championship with a breakout win against Mizzou. Pick: Nebraska, 37-21
— Betfirms.com writer Hector Garza
From 1979 to 2002, Nebraska won 24 straight in the series, frequently mopping the floor with the Tigers. Since 2003, Missouri has won four of six scoring 41, 41, 41 and 52 points against the Huskers. The Pelinis showed a lot of stones at Virginia Tech but Missouri actually has a quarterback. Pick: Missouri, 27-20
— CBSSports.com senior writer Dennis Dodd
Photo credit: Lincoln Journal-Star
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