In every single game Nebraska has played this season, the trend getting leads and keeping them hasn't necessarily been the strong suit for the team. Before storming to a 52-10 victory over Nevada , the Huskers first got down 10-7 to the Wolfpack. Wake Forest had gotten up on the Huskers, 10-6 before the big red came back to win that game, 20-17. Ball State had gotten up on the Huskers 10-7 as well, before Nebraska was able to pull ahead, and then win in a shootout with the Cardinals, 41-10. In fact, the only game where the Huskers got to double-digits before the other team was the contest against USC.
OK, maybe that's a bad example.
As it is, even if you have the capability of scoring in bunches, you don't want to be doing it from behind all the time, and Head Coach Bill Callahan cited one way to try and make that possible. "I think the big thing is not to commit any turnovers early. That's been a little bit of a concern for us, is that we have great ball security (and) make great decisions with the ball in our hand, early in the game," he said.
"Even going back to last year, I think we turned it over early in the game, so we have to be really conscious of that and be really protective of the ball."
The fourth year Head Coach for the big red is probably referring to last year's home game against Missouri . While it ended as a pretty convincing win for the Huskers, it started off shaky, former Husker running back Brandon Jackson fumbling the ball way on Nebraska 's first possession of the game. That didn't cost them as Missouri wasn't able to capitalize and score, but on the road, but it's definitely hurt them down in Columbia .
The last trip Nebraska made down there has been well chronicled, the Huskers deadlocked with the Tigers at 23 each with just under seven minutes to go in the third quarter. On 4th and 2, the Huskers elected to go for it, Zac Taylor hitting then junior wideout Terrence Nunn on a post pattern, which appeared headed for the end zone. That was until starting safety Jason Simpson popped the ball out of Nunn's grasp from behind, Missouri taking over, and the big red wouldn't score again as Missouri scored 17 unanswered points en route to a 41-24 drubbing of the Huskers.
It was under a different staff, but just as significant, Frank Solich's Huskers heading into Missouri for the 2003 season. And like Callahan's Cornhuskers, they had a lead, but it was seemingly a lock for Nebraska , the Huskers going into the fourth quarter leading, 24-14.
Former Tiger quarterback Brad Smith took over the fourth quarter, aided by two Nebraska turnovers, the Tigers of 2003 totaling a whopping 27 points in the final quarter, duplicating the 2005 score as they beat the Huskers, 41-24.
Another statistic which is perhaps foreboding for this game, is that Missouri currently ranks 18th in the country in turnover margin, holding a plus-one advantage over opponents per game. Nebraska is negative .40 per game in that category, tying them with many others for 77th overall in the country. In the two meetings where Nebraska lost to Missouri each time, 41-24, Nebraska 's turnover margin was negative four.
Nebraska will leave for Columbia tomorrow afternoon and the kickoff of the game is scheduled for 8:15 P.M. Central Time, and will be aired on ESPN.
NOTES: Junior defensive tackle Ty Steinkuhler and junior defensive end Clayton Sievers still are no-shows at practice. Coach Callahan said of Steinkuhler's status, that it will be a game-time decision.
Missouri is currently between a six-point to eight-point favorite over Nebraska . This is the first time Missouri has been favored at home to beat the Huskers since 1969.