Nebraska did something Saturday that they hadn't done in almost 10 years, they beat a top 10 team. Since the Huskers' 20-10 victory over second ranked Oklahoma in 2001, Nebraska has lost 11 straight games against top 10 teams until Saturday's victory over the seventh ranked Missouri Tigers. With that victory Duke University becomes the only team from an automatic BCS qualifying conference to not beat a top 10 team in that time period.
Victories of this stature have managed to find a way to elude the Huskers in recent times. Five of the 11 straight defeats Nebraska suffered when playing top 10 teams were by six points or fewer. So, even after Nebraska jumped to a 24-0 first quarter lead against Missouri, many fans were holding their breath. Tension got high at Memorial Stadium when Missouri cut the lead to 24-14, but then Roy Helu broke free for a 53 yard touchdown which put fans back at ease. Helu gave the performance of a lifetime, breaking the Nebraska single game rushing record with 307 yards. What's even more impressive is he did it in the biggest game of the year against a highly ranked defense.
Not only does this victory put Nebraska in the driver's seat for winning the Big 12 North, it shows that Nebraska can win big games. Nebraska has beaten two top 15 teams in back to back games for the first time since 1999. They did it on the road against Oklahoma State with a great offensive performance and they did it at home against Missouri with a great defensive performance.
Although Nebraska may not be back to where they were in the 90s, they are back to being relevant in the national picture. Unlike Bill Callahan, who got fans excited with "Restore the Order" shirts, Bo Pelini has gotten fans excited by being realistic and getting over the hump by getting that signature victory. It may only be one game, but Saturday's win prevented 2010 from being another disappointing season where Nebraska seemed close, but just not quite there yet.
The descent of Husker football can be traced back to the 36-62 loss at Boulder in 2001. That day Nebraska fell from the top ranks of college football, and they haven't recovered since. Saturday's win doesn't make up for what the loss in Boulder did to the program, but it is the largest single step the Huskers have taken toward getting back to relevance.
Nebraska is now over their "curse" of not being able to not beat a top ten team. Even though Nebraska should win the rest of their games, the season is far from over. All the excitement and buzz generated by Saturday's win would instantly vanish in a loss to Iowa State, who, by the way, beat the Huskers last year in Lincoln.
Speaking of curses, Missouri hasn't beaten a ranked team on the road since 1997. Being a Nebraska fan for the last nine years has been hard, but Huskers' fans can't help but pity what Tiger fans must have felt like after Saturday's game.