In a game where I spotted a white-bearded gentleman with a tool kit and several animals gathering outside the stadium, the Huskers played like the Gang that Couldn’t Shoot Straight for three quarters before morphing back into the team we’ve gotten used to seeing this season as they exploded for four unanswered touchdowns in the fourth quarter for a fan-satisfying 27-12 win in Columbia.
For the first three quarters of this game, all Zac Lee and the Huskers offense did was to do their best impression of Bill Callahan’s offense, putting out three straight pathetic plays and then making each punting situation (nine of those including the safety) an adventure that had yours truly sitting in front of the TV biting his finger nails like the cartoon character typewriter style.
Not only was the punting game an adventure that required “Tums relief”, but the mental mistakes were probably the most impressive stat (12 penalties for 108) of the night. But then I saw it, the entire offense had that proverbial “light bulb go off over their heads,” like, “Hey we are playing a football game here, let’s go and make some plays.”
The Tigers kicked a field goal at the end of the third quarter to go up 12–0. Up to that point, Lee was a miserable 9-27, but then in the fourth quarter Zac was five out of six for 79 yards and three touchdowns. Here’s how it all unfolded.
After the insuring kickoff, the Huskers plodded their way to their 44 yard line, and then it happened. Niles Paul ran a go route against single coverage Zac pumped faked short and Paul was wide open down around the 15 yard line and Lee threw a strike.
Paul gathered it in and crossed the goal line and just like that, big MO (that would be momentum, LOL) was 100 percent on the Huskers side and it would stay there the rest of the night. On the following kickoff Ndamukong Suh, the leading Outland and Lombardi candidate (IMHO!!) finally held on to one of Blaine Gabbert’s passes for an interception.
Lee then hit Paul again for what turned out to be the game winning 13 yard touchdown.
Just two minutes later the Huskers cornerback Dejon Gomes intercepted Gabbert again and returned it to the 10 yard line Lee then hit tight end Mike McNeill on an eight-yard pass to push Nebraska's lead to 20-12 with 10:34 remaining.
Running back Roy Helu led NU's rushing attack with 18 carries for 88 yards, but almost half of that came on a 41-yard burst on Nebraska's final drive to put the Tigers away in the fourth quarter. Prior to that, the running game was pretty much non-existent.
I do believe that if coach Pelini doesn’t award the Blackshirts after this game that we may need to rethink his entire makeup, as this game was won because of the defense’s effort and not much in the way of anything else.
The defense earned their Blackshirts tonight, as they held Missouri’s high-octane attack to only 225 total yards, including only 134 yards passing, a questionable touchdown at the end of the first half, and forced three turnovers.
Let’s not kid ourselves for a minute. That front four of Crick, Suh, Turner, and Allen allowed Pelini to play seven men in coverage while those four harassed Gabbert the entire night and shut the Tigers' running game completely down.
For the game the foursome accounted for 21 tackles, including three for loses, two sacks, an interception, a forced fumble and a fumble recovery. I have no idea how many knockdowns or hurries they forced, but the fact that Gabbert was only 17-43 give you a good idea on how things went for him on the night.
I have to give Blaine Gabbert a lot of credit though, he showed me that he has a great heart as the Blackshirt front four kept him in disarray and running for his life throughout the night and despite a badly sprained ankle he kept coming at us again and again.
After the game Pelini stated "We showed a lot of character when things weren't going our way in some tough conditions," Nebraska Coach Bo Pelini said. "But we made some plays, got some turnovers and I'm really proud of our guys."
I saw that Helu was favoring his shoulder after the game and I hope it isn’t too serious as next Saturday we have the Red Raiders coming into Lincoln. Red Raider quarterback Taylor Potts is doubtful for the game due to a concussion he suffered against New Mexico.
Well fans, let's savor this game for maybe the next day or two, and then get ready to whip some Red Raider butt. GBR!!