But I digress.
The first quarter was the best Nebraska has looked all season offensively and defensively. Unfortunately the Huskers weren't able to keep up that pace, due in part to Missouri settling in and playing their game as well as the loss of Taylor Martinez to a bone bruise in the second quarter, but still emerged victorious 31-17.
Looking ahead, the Huskers will face what I would call an opportunistic Iowa State team. Last year Nebraska threw three interceptions and lost five of seven fumbles to Iowa State in a losing effort. This year the Cyclones are #9 in turnover margin again at +1 per contest and after watching the ISU/Texas game this is a very similar, scrappy, opportunistic ISU team.
Here are my thoughts looking back one more time at Missouri and a quick glimpse to the game this weekend against Iowa State.
Final Missouri thoughts:
- The game of chess was won this past Saturday by Nebraska. I have read the comments by Jared Crick and other players that said nothing that Missouri did this past Saturday was new to Nebraska. Credit the Nebraska staff for having their guys prepared.
- But, the Huskers put in some new looks for Missouri to try and stop. What was so amazing about it was that Nebraska with just three or four defensive lineman got pretty consistent pressure on Blaine Gabbert while Oklahoma was unsuccessful doing that with four and five guys.
- Give credit where credit is due though, Gabbert is a helluva quarterback. The defensive coverage in the secondary was tight, all day, and some of the throws that he literally had to thread the needle on were on the money.
- Give more credit where it's due, I think back to the Big 12 Championship and the individual effort of Ndamukong Suh when I think about Roy Helu and his effort on Saturday. I mean, Calvin Jones takes me back to being a sophomore in high school, squaring off against him in the playoffs with Cory Schlesinger and watching greatness in action.
- Roy Helu was nothing short of spectacular. This year and last year are such a stark contrast for Helu and you really forget how great he is when he's healthy. Helu finished the day with 28 carries for 307 yards and three TDs. Let's not forget that Helu really sealed the game up last year as well with a late touchdown to go up by two touchdowns. He's a bit of a Tiger killer.
- There was a solid offensive game plan, it seemed, to challenge the edges of Missouri's defense with the run game and trying to set up the pass. The success of the run early really helped with a lot of things that Nebraska was trying to accomplish. - The Nebraska receivers were very clutch on Saturday catching just about every pass that was in their direction. I thought that the catch by Niles Paul in the first quarter was an under-rated grab.
- The injury to Taylor Martinez is a concern, but at least there is some idea of what Zac Lee can do when he's in the game for Nebraska. He was able to kick the rust off of the arm a bit after a couple of very bad throws and showed some fairly quick feet like he demonstrated in the Holiday Bowl last year. I don't feel at all bad about possibly having to play Iowa State without Martinez to let him heal up.
- This game to me though was won upfront on offense and defense. Both sides of the line for Nebraska really did a tremendous job of setting the tone for the game and being physical.
- There was no lack of execution that I can really put a finger on when it came to this game. There was also not a lack of discipline with bad penalties, fumbles or turnovers that I can also point out. A huge win by this team to stay in control of the Big 12 North.
- Don't know about everyone else, but I am worn out on the announcers that ABC has had for the past two Nebraska games. I can't help but think that some politicking occurred on-air that helped get Eric Martin suspended and the Big 12 will more than likely follow suit this week and suspend Courtney Osborne as well.
- If Ed Cunningham wants something to yell about, worry less about what flag was or wasn't thrown and what was or wasn't legal and talk about how Missouri/Gary Pinkel didn't pull Gabbert after he was hit and visibly shaken up. The Big 12 will worry about the hit, politic about something that you can really have an impact on. - I was really impressed with Ciante Evans. I can't tell you enough that I am surprised that he is even playing this year. I saw him at his signing day and he was skinny as a rail. Saw him this weekend take over for Alfonzo Dennard and there really wasn't any drop off between the two. Makes you feel good about the secondary next year.
- I have noticed some pretty bad officiating the past two or three games. You hate to have that www.blackhelicopter.com conspiracy feeling about this, but I just can't help it. What's bothered me the most has been bad spots by the officials. Every one seemed to be a half yard to a full yard short of where it should have been.
- What a great week for Nebraska football. Two significant offensive commitments in Taariq Allen and Aaron Green and a win over Missouri looking at controlling your own destiny in the driver's seat of the north looking at making another trip to Dallas this December.
First Iowa State thoughts:
- I'll be honest, this game scares me a little. It's following a huge, emotional game to Missouri, Nebraska lost to Iowa State last year, Iowa State beat Texas which beat Nebraska and Iowa State is overall just pretty opportunistic. Nebraska will have to limit their mistakes.
- The immediate positive that you have to think of is Nebraska is on the road. It's really uncanny how well Nebraska has performed away from home as opposed to at home for the most part (against South Dakota State and Texas). It's possible following this past weekend that the gap on that has somewhat narrowed.
- ISU can run the ball pretty well, but when I have seen their passing game one word comes to mind and that is inconsistent. The Huskers will be able to commit a player or two closer to the line of scrimmage to stop the run and try and get pressure on Austen Arnaud.
- You have to wonder who will be the starting quarterback for Nebraska. Will Martinez be healthy or will they just sit Martinez and let Lee play. It's a game that Lee could win with the running game that Nebraska has right now, but last year was a game that Lee could have won too (although the game last year was hardly his fault).
- The X Factor for the game is Lee or Martinez. I think that Nebraska wins, regardless, but wins bigger with Martinez playing as opposed to Lee. I just think that Martinez opens so many other things up with his mobility. I will give you my score prediction on Friday.
These are just a few of the things that are swirling around in my head on this "Turn the Page Tuesday".