A good habit, if you are a Missouri Tigers fan.
Missouri layed another 41-24 pasting on Nebraska at Faurot Field, which equaled the score from the landmark 2003 game. There were other similarities: both games featured stretches of drizzling rain, and both games were showcases for a certain #16 wearing black and gold.
Just in case you missed the game on Saturday, Brad Smith went off! He became only the sixth player in NCAA history to run and pass for over 200 yards in the same game. He accounted for almost 500 total yards of offense against a defense that was supposed to be formidable. It was anything but…
Missouri raced to an early 21-3 advantage, but Nebraska took advantage of two Missouri mistakes – a fumble and a blocked punt – to even the score at 24 by half time. Seemingly, Nebraska had the momentum going into the third quarter.
The feeling was eerily similar to the 2003 game, except Nebraska held the lead going into the fourth quarter in that game. This year, the game was tied going into the last stanza.
Smith had not only the best game of his career, but the best offensive game of any Missouri Tiger in history. His 480 yards surpassed Jeff Handy's previous record of 471 yards over 10 years ago.
"He dominated us," Callahan said of Smith, whose 246 yards rushing is the most ever given up by a Husker defense, surpassing the total set back in 1979 by Oklahoma running back Billy Sims.
"It's a double-edged sword," Callahan said of trying to stop Smith. "You try to stop him in the running game and he starts throwing it. You stop the throwing game and obviously, you open up the lanes inside."
"There's a fine balance to what you commit to numerically and obviously, they read us, no huddled us pretty effectively and they made the plays they needed to make and we didn't."
One of the plays was a 79-yard run for a touchdown, the longest of Smith's career and amongst the top ten in regard to the longest rushes the Huskers had ever given up in a game. It was also the run that moved Smith into second place all-time in NCAA history for quarterback rushing touchdowns.
Smith wasn't alone in his statistical feeding frenzy. William Franklin had nine receptions for 94 yards, and almost all of them were key, chain-moving grabs in key situations. Tommy Saunders also grabbed a freakish touchdown, which bounced off the body of Franklin in almost the precise spot Matt Davidson received the bicycle kick in the 1997 Nebraska game in Faurot.
As important to Missouri's success was the Tigers defensive tenacity in this game. For the first time this season, Missouri's defensive line exerted its will with a ferocious display of pressure and sacks on Nebraska's Zac Taylor. Lo Williams, Brian Smith, Xzavie Jackson and Stryker Sulak all took turns rolling off the stunned Husker QB. Taylor was also rushed several times on Saturday and was called for intentional grounding once.
Taylor especially felt the wrath of Jackson in the series after a Nebraska defender went helmet to helmet with Brad Smith after Smith had released the ball. It was an illegal hit, and a cheap shot. Coach Gary Pinkel was seen talking directly to Jackson after that hit on the sidelines, and the sequence was capped by Jackson and David Overstreet coming around left end during the next series and practically cutting Taylor in half.
Retaliation for the cheap shot? Why…yes. And well deserved, we might add.
Nebraska drops to 5-2, and 2-2 in the Big 12. Missouri takes over sole possession of the Big 12 Northern Division lead with a record of 3-1 in the conference, and 5-2 overall.
The Tigers will enjoy this sweet victory, and then will began preparations for a trip to Lawrence to settle another score with Kansas.
Head coach Gary Pinkel summed it by saying, "I'm real proud of my football team. A few weeks ago I told my team that if you don't fight and win in the third and fourth quarters it's not going to happen. I don't care what you do in the first half, and they responded with great leadership. The coaches have done a great job. How we played in that second half, I was very proud of my football team, and we'll enjoy this for 24 hours and then worry about next week."