Shades of the Nebraska Huskers of Old as Comeback Kids Rise in Columbia
It was about what you would expect from two teams trying to prove themselves on a cold and rainy night. There was sloppy play, a multitude of penalties, and the occasional fumble. It was cold, it was wet, and it was wild.
To be honest there is no end to the shock I'm feeling right now. Nebraska did their best to hand this game over to Missouri in the first half. Not capitalizing on turnovers, committing untimely turnovers, and in the end just down right looking awful.
It was exactly how it looked the first three quarters of the Thursday night game for Nebraska. They came out cold and sloppy, just like the field on the wet and rainy October night in Columbia. The sloppy start yielded only twelve points for the vaunted Missouri offense.
Ndamukong Suh came out as advertised. Some surprises? Dejon Gomes and Matt O'Hanlon. Dejon Gomes played out of his mind tonight and much to my surprise Matt O'Hanlon played fast and in position nearly the entire game.
Nebraska spotted the Tigers 12, almost 15, but the Tiger offense couldn't convert on a field goal early in the third quarter. But as Nebraska learned three weeks ago, it's not how you play in the first three quarters necessarily, but how you finish.
And on the first drive of the fourth quarter, Nebraska started to apply what they had learned.
To say Zac Lee looked pedestrian in the first three quarters would be complimenting his play. Actually, he looked down-right awful. But again, Zac Lee knew how he needed to end to end any speculation of a quarterback controversy, and close he did.
He hit Niles Paul (6 catches 102 yards 2 TDs) on a 56-yard post route early in the fourth.
Then, after the defense had dropped five, yes that's right FIVE could-be interceptions in the first three quarters Ndamukong Suh showed why he is one of the best Defensive players in the game as he picked off Blaine Gabbert for the first time this season on the first play in the fourth quarter.
Two plays later, Lee hit Niles Paul again on an eight-yard touchdown pass to give Nebraska their first lead in the game.
The next pass for Blaine Gabbert? Another interception by upcoming star Dejon Gomes, who nearly took it all the way back for a touchdown.
Three plays later, Lee struck again with a touchdown pass to on Mike McNeill on a beautifully executed boot leg play.
But those three touchdowns aren't what I'm talking about. Those three touchdowns led to what I am talking about. For the first time in recent history Nebraska put a game away.
The defense held on fourth and twenty. Then, the offense pounded the rock for the final three minutes of the game and scored the final touchdown in impressive fashion.
Why is this a big deal?
I'll tell you. In the days of old Nebraska put teams away with a two tight end set which ended in a touchdown that shredded the last shards of will from the opposing teams confidence.
They did it again Thursday night.
No it wasn't pretty, but like I said after the Virginia Tech game. Decent teams play well and lose but good teams finish games and win even when they don't play well. Nebraska grew up tonight in Columbia, Missouri.
And it reminded me of the days of old.
Now though, Great teams move on. They move on and beat Texas Tech.
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