October 6th, 2007
#23/25 NEBRASKA (4 - 1)
(1 - 0)
#17 MISSOURI (4 - 0) (0 -
Weather Report for Nebraska vs. Missouri
Line - Missouri by 6.
Tigers' spread offensive attack has been explosive this season, running and
throwing the ball with great effectiveness. After four games, the Tigers
rank 5th nationally in total offense (544.25 ypg), 6th in passing (344.25 ypg),
25th in passing efficiency (143.93 rating), 26th rushing (200 ypg), 12th scoring
offense (42 ppg), and 18th in turnover margin (+1.00).
QB: Jr. Chase Daniel (116 of 176, 1311 yds, 13 TDs, 4
INTs) has had a great start to the 2007 season. Daniel does a nice job of
picking apart an opposing defense with his arm, but also has the fleet of foot
to scramble out of the pocket and make a play. Chase isn't the biggest
quarterback, at 6 feet even, so his ability to use his feet is important.
Daniel has rushed for 116 yards and one touchdown on 28 carries. He has
thrived in Coach Pinkel's no-huddle attack, and is poised for a big year.
On the downside, he has thrown two picks in each of the last two contests
against Illinois State and Western Michigan. Behind Daniel is Jr. Chase
Patton (5 of 10, 52 yds, 1 INT), a tall (6'5"), talented back-up that isn't much
of a drop-off from Daniel.
RB: Missouri's group of running
backs is smaller than typical units, with all at or under 5'9" and 205
lbs. The Tiger running backs haven't rushed the ball a tremendous amount
this season, but starter Sr. Tony Temple (68 carries, 353 yds, 3 TDs) has made
the most of his carries, averaging 5.2 yards per carry. Jr. Jimmy Jackson
(9 carries, 54 yds) and Sr. Marcus Woods (5 carries, 36 yds), and Jr. Earl
Goldsmith (5 carries, 44 yds) are the top reserves. All rely on
shiftiness, rather than power to get yards. The backs do not get many
passes their way, with Tony Temple catching 3 passes for 14 yards and a
touchdown and Jimmy Jackson catching 2 balls for 10 yards through four
WR/TE: Missouri is loaded at wide receiver, with
playmakers at the X, Z, and H spots. At X is Sr. William Franklin (17
catches, 278 yds, 4 TDs) and back-up So. Jared Perry (8 catches, 60 yds).
Starting at Z is Jr. Tommy Saunders (10 catches, 108 yds, 1 TD), who is backed
up by Sr. Jason Ray (1 catch, 9 yds), and Sr. Greg Bracey (3 catches, 53 yds, 1
TD). At H is dynamic RFr. Jeremy Maclin (21 catches, 244 yds, 3 TDs) and
So. Danario Alexander (9 catches, 82 yds). Maclin has also been dangerous
rushing the football, taking 10 carries for 122 yards and a touchdown.
While the wide receivers are great, the true strength is at tight end with Sr.
Martin Rucker (29 catches, 330 yds, 1 TD) and Jr. Chase Coffman (18 catches, 164
yds, 2 TDs). Rucker and Coffman are arguably the two best tight ends in
the Big XII conference, and near the top nationally as
OL: The Missouri offensive line has done a great job
this season. After four games, the line has made way for 5.7 yards per
rush for the offense, while giving up only 5 sacks. The tackles are huge,
with Sr. Tyler Luellen (6'7", 310 lbs) on the left and Jr. Colin Brown (6'8",
325 lbs) on the right. Top tackle reserves include Sr. Chris Tipton (6'4",
310 lbs) and So. Dain Wise (6'5", 305 lbs). Starting at guard is Sr. Monte
Wyrick (6'5", 325 lbs) on the left side, and So. Kurtis Gregory (6'5", 305 lbs)
on the right. Jr. Ryan Madison (6'5", 305 lbs.) and So. James Stigall
(6'3", 300 lbs.) are the top reserves at guard. Starting at center is Sr.
Adam Spieker (6'3", 305 lbs), with RFr. Tim Barnes (6'4", 305 lbs) serving as
his top back-up. With all of the upperclassmen on this line, it is not a
surprise that this has turned out to be an above average
The Missouri defense has been
poor this season, giving up chunks of yards against less than dominant
competition. The Tigers' defense ranks 93rd nationally in total defense
(434.50 ypg), 104th pass defense (275.75 ypg), 64th pass efficiency defense
(123.29 rating), 71st rush defense (158.80 ypg), and 58th in scoring defense (25
DL: The Missouri defensive line is an
experienced crew, and is giving up 3.6 yards per carry to opponents, also
earning 8 sacks as a unit. Starting at left defensive end is Jr. Tommy
Chavis (13 tackles, 0.5 sack, 1 QBH, 1 PBU), with Jr. Jaysen Corbett (4 tackles)
backing him up. On the right side, Jr. Stryker Sulak (16 tackles, 3 sacks,
1 FF, 2 QBH, 2 PBU) starts, with TFr. Tyler Crane (2 tackles) serving as the top
reserve. At nose tackle is Sr. Lorenzo Williams (14 tackles, 2 sacks),
with So. Jaron Baston (4 tackles, 1 QBH) performing back-up duties. At
defensive tackle is Jr. Ziggy Hood (18 tackles, 2.5 sacks, 3 FF, 1 FR, 4 QBH),
with Sr. Charles Gaines (2 tackles) serving as his back-up. Sulak and
Williams are the best of the bunch, with Sulak being the best pass rusher and
Williams as the better run stuffer. This group has been pretty good this
season, but had a poor showing against Ole Miss, allowing 229 yards rushing.
LB: Missouri's linebacking corps has
done a mediocre job of replacing Marcus Bacon and Dedrick Harrington, the team's
top two tacklers from 2006. There's a lot of potential in the starters,
but potential that hasn't been completely realized yet. Starting at MLB is
Jr. Brock Christopher (37 tackles, 1.5 sacks, 1 INT, 1 FF, 1 QBH, 2 PBU), with
TFr. Luke Lambert (12 tackles) listed as the top reserve. At WLB is So.
Sean Weatherspoon (44 tackles, 1 FF, 3 PBU), while So. Connell Davis (4 tackles,
1 FR) is his back-up. Weatherspoon is the unit's big hitter and leads the
team in tackles this season. At SLB is Jr. Van Alexander (17 tackles, 1
QBH), with Jr. Steve Redmond (5 tackles) backing him up.
DB: Missouri's defensive backfield is an interesting
group that has a shake-up in the line-up this week. Starting at cornerback
this week are Sr. Darnell Terrell (16 tackles, 1 FR, 1 QBH, 7 PBU) at LCB and
TFr. Carl Gettis (15 tackles, 1 PBU) at RCB. Top reserves are Sr. Paul
Simpson (5 tackles) at LCB and So. Hardy Ricks (18 tackles, 1 PBU) at RCB.
Gettis is getting his first start this week, taking over for Ricks.
Terrell is the best of the unit with 7 break-ups, and he was honorable mention
All-Big XII in 2006. At safety, Jr. William Moore (35 tackles, 2 INT, 1
QBH, 1 PBU) starts over at FS and So. Del Howard (6 tackles) is his top
reserve. Sr. Pig Brown (33 tackles, 1 INT, 2 FR, 1 BK) starts at SS, with
Jr. Justin Garrett (10 tackles, 2 INT) serving as his back-up. Opponents
are completing 61% of their passes, which is fairly high.
Missouri's special teams units have been mediocre
through four games this year. The Tigers rank 118th in net punting (26.44
yd avg), 10th in punt returns (16.67 yd avg), and 44th in kickoff returns (22.65
K: Jr. Jeff Wolfert starts at place kicker
for Missouri. He is not having a great season, making just 5 of 9 field
goal attempts, with a 47 yard long. On kickoffs, he is averaging 58.3
yards on 29 kickoffs with only 1 going for a touchback.
P: Sr. Adam Crossett starts at punter for the Tigers
and is having a mediocre season. He has punted 14 times for an average of
36.2 yards this season, while also having one punt blocked. 5 of his 14
punts have been downed inside the opponents' 20.
Missouri's return game has been pretty good through four games this
season. RFr. Jeremy Maclin (16 kick returns, 22.2 yd avg) and Sr. Tony
Temple make up the first-team return unit, while Jr. Tremane Vaughns (1 kick
return, 30 yds) has also fielded a kickoff. At punt returner, RFr. Jeremy
Maclin (12 punt returns, 16.7 yd avg, 2 TDs) and Sr. Marcus Woods are the top
options, although Woods hasn't had a return this season. Maclin has been a
special teams dynamo, with 2 returns for touchdown.
Coverage: The Missouri kick coverage team has been
good this season, allowing an average of just 21.6 yards on 28 kickoff return
attempts. Punt coverage has been better, with opponents averaging 6 yards
on 4 returns. The Tigers have had one punt blocked, which was returned for
The Nebraska offense
has been very good this season. Consistency is a question though, as is
the run game. Five games into the season, Nebraska ranks 18th nationally
in total offense (467.80), 15th in passing (307.20 ypg), 22nd in pass efficiency
(144.96 rating), 50th in rushing (160.60 ypg), 25th in scoring offense (35.80
ppg), and 77th in turnover margin (-.40).
QB: Sr. Sam
Keller (121 for 185, 1497 yds, 9 TDs, 7 INTs) has had a pretty good season
through five games. After a slow start in the first two games, he has
thrown for 1,040 yards and 7 touchdowns in the past three games. Sam is
looking the part of a big time quarterback, spreading the ball to multiple
receivers all over the field. He has shown the ability to lead Nebraska in
a shoot-out, and typically has done a good job in the two-minute offense.
Jr. Joe Ganz (1 for 1, 19 yds) is Nebraska's top back-up and hasn't seen action
since the season opener against Nevada.
RB: Jr. Marlon Lucky
(108 carries, 565 yds, 6 TDs) is Nebraska's best back and has a combination of
talents the other Husker backs do not possess. Jr. Cody Glenn (24 carries,
76 yds, 2 TDs) is a power back that is very capable of netting big yards when
he's healthy. TFr. Quentin Castille (30 carries, 122 yds, 3 TDs) is a
bruising power back, while TFr. Roy Helu (10 carries, 39 yds) is more of a speed
back. So. Major Culbert (5 carries, 35 yds, 1 TD) has moved back to
defense, playing LB. This is a good group of backs, but needs more help
from the offensive line, as production has dropped since the season
opener. The running backs are a crucial piece of the passing game, with
Marlon Lucky (28 catches, 205 yds, 1 TD) leading the team in receptions.
Cody Glenn (4 catches, 46 yds), Quentin Castille, (1 catch, 15 yds) and Roy Helu
(1 catch, 5 yds) have also been incorporated this season. Sr. Andy Sand is
the starter at FB, and will rarely touch the ball, but is as a quality
blocker. Sand has one reception for 15 yards through two games.
Reserve FB Jr. Thomas Lawson got the ball for the first time last week, catching
2 passes for 10 yards and 2 touchdowns.
Nebraska's receiving corps is turning in a good effort so far, but starting
dropping passes again last week. Starting Z receiver is Sr. Terrence Nunn
(17 catches, 219 yds), who is getting close some Nebraska receiving records, but
hasn't been consistent this year. Behind Nunn is Sr. Frantz Hardy (7
catches, 122 yds), who is the fastest of the group, but has dropped many passes
this season. Starting at X is Jr. Nate Swift (16 catches, 206 yds, 1 TD),
who makes excellent plays in traffic, but is being pushed by Sr. Maurice Purify
(19 catches, 268 yds, 1 TD) who is looking to get his starting spot back.
Purify is doing a great job getting yards after catch, making him critical to
the offense's success. Jr. Todd Peterson (9 catches, 125 yds, 2 TDs) has
great hands, and rarely drops a pass. Sr. Dan Erickson (3 catches, 40
yds), So. Menelik Holt, and TFr. Niles Paul (1 catch, 6 yds) are also capable
receivers in the group. Starting TE, Sr. J.B. Phillips (1 catch, 6 yds)
has been used primarily as a blocker this season, only getting one
reception. Sr. Sean Hill (7 catches, 184 yds, 3 TD) has become the
playmaking tight end this year, coming out of relative obscurity. RFr Dreu
Young (1 catch, 14 yds), Jr. Hunter Teafatiller (3 catches, 21 yds), and Mike
McNeill (1 catch, 25 yds), have all caught passes in their reserve
OL: Nebraska's offensive line has been inconsistent
this season, in some respects. Pass protection has been good, but rush
blocking has been very weak since the season opener. On the season, they
are allowing the backs 4.73 yards per carry, improved slightly this week, after
being in free-fall since the opener. Starting at tackle is Sr. Carl Nicks
(6'5", 330 lbs) on the left, and Jr. Lydon Murtha (6'7", 310 lbs) on the
right. Both have done a nice job keeping Sam Keller upright this
season. RFr. Mike Smith (6'6", 290 lbs) and RFr. D.J. Jones (6'5", 310
lbs) are the top tackle reserves. Jr. Matt Slauson (6'5", 335 lbs) starts
at RG, and is one of the line's top talents, but has been as consistent as
needed. So. Jacob Hickman (6'4", 285 lbs) is now starting at LG, and has
performed well. Sr. Jordan Picou (6'3", 300 lbs.) and Jr. Mike Huff (6'4",
300 lbs) are Nebraska's top reserves at guard. Sr. Brett Byford (6'3", 300
lbs) starts at center, and has also been struggling. Jacob Hickman also
acts as Byford's back-up.
defense has been under fire over the past month. Wake Forest and USC
showed that teams can run on Nebraska with a lot of success, Ball State proved
that the Blackshirts have trouble defending the pass, and Iowa State, one of the
worst offenses in the country, were able to run 102 plays against the
Huskers. Nebraska is ranked 77th nationally in total defense (408.60 ypg),
58th pass defense (219 ypg), 25th pass efficiency defense (106.59 rating), 92nd
rush defense (189.60 ypg), and 67th in scoring defense (26.6
DL: For the first time this season, Nebraska's
defensive line got a push up-front last week. Improvement and consistency
will still need to be shown, now at the mid-season point. Jr. Barry Turner
(15 tackles, 2 sacks, 4 QBH, 1 PBU) starts at open end. Turner seemed to
be struggling with the added weight he put on over the off-season, but had a
good showing last weekend. Starting at base end is Jr. Zach Potter (22
tackles, 2.5 sacks, 1 FF, 1 FR, 3 QBH), who has put in three good games in a
row. Top reserves are Jr. Clayton Sievers (3 tackles, 1 QBH) behind
Turner, and RFr. Pierre Allen (1 tackle) behind Potter. Jr. Ndamukong Suh
(19 tackles, 1 sack, 1 FR) starts at nose tackle, with Jr. Shukree Barfield (5
tackles) and Sr. Brandon Johnson sharing back-up duties. Suh has the tools
to be a great one, but hasn't quite put it all together yet. So. Ty
Steinkuhler (4 tackles, 1 FF), starter at defensive tackle, has re-aggravated
his knee injury from earlier in the season. Jr. Kevin Dixon (7 tackles, 1
INT) is his primary back-up and has done a nice job when he's had to step
in. Nebraska is allowing opponents 4.7 yards per carry, which dropped from
5.4 yards per carry after a solid showing against Iowa
LB: Nebraska's linebacking corps also stepped up last
week against Iowa State, looking improved over the previous month of
action. Jr. Corey McKeon (24 tackles, 1 INT, 1 FR, 2 QBH, 2 PBU), who is
mid-way through his third season as the starter at MLB started to look like his
old self last week after really struggling out of the gate this year. So.
Phillip Dillard (21 tackles, 1 QBH, 1 PBU) has been seeing a lot of action
because of McKeon's inconsistent play this season, and could just as easily
become the starter if needed. Sr. Bo Ruud (31 tackles, 2 INT, 2 FF, 1 PBU)
starts at SLB, while Jr. Steve Octavien (37 tackles, 0.5 sack, 5 QBH, 2 PBU)
starts at WLB. Octavien is the best of the bunch and leads the team in
tackles. Ruud, has had an interception return for touchdown in two
consecutive games, both at critical times. Sr. Lance Brandenburgh (15
tackles), is the top back-up for both Octavien and Ruud, and has been playing
with a tweaked ankle. RB Major Culbert (1 tackle) is now at linebacker and
has great athletic ability.
DB: Nebraska's secondary were
shredded by Ball State two weeks ago, but were improved against Iowa State last
week. This unit did not give up a passing touchdown while earning 3
interceptions against the Cyclones. The challenge will be tougher this
week, however. Sr. Cortney Grixby (9 tackles, 2 INTs, 4 PBU) is a four
year starter at WCB, and had the game of his career last week, taking 2
interceptions. Sr. Zack Bowman (14 tackles, 1 INT, 1 QBH), is the team's
best cover corner, but nagging injuries have kept him from starting. Jr.
Armando Murillo (25 tackles, 3 PBU) starts at LCB, and back-up Sr. Andre Jones
(6 tackles, 2 PBU) typically sees a good share of plays. Sr. Tierre Green
(10 tackles, 3 PBU) starts at FS and So. Larry Asante (33 tackles, 1 FF, 1 QBH,
1 PBU) is the starter at SS. Top reserves include So. Rickey Thenarse (11
tackles, 1 FF) and Sr. Ben Eisenhart (5 tackles) at FS, with Sr. Bryan Wilson (6
tackles, 1 QBH) at SS. Thenarse has great speed and is a vicious
Nebraska Special Teams
Nebraska's special teams
have been good this season, with quality kickers and a return game that showed
signs of life last week. The Huskers are ranked 23rd in net punting (37.67
yd avg), 95th in punt returns (6.10 yd avg), and 42nd in kickoff returns (22.93
K: TFr. Adi Kunalic (1 for 1, 46 yd lng)
handles kickoffs and long field goals. Kunalic's powerful leg pushed
through 15 of 30 kickoffs for touchback, with a 67.2 yard average. RFr.
Alex Henery handles short field goals (3 for 3, 37 yd lng) and extra
P: Jr. Dan Titchener is a Ray Guy Award candidate,
as one of the nation's top punters. He is averaging 41.7 yards on 20 punts
with a long of 51. 6 of his 20 punts have been downed inside the
opponents' 20. He has above average leg power, with solid
KR/PR: Nebraska's kick return game has
been good, however, the punt return game needs work. Seniors Andre Jones
(7 kick returns, 21.3 yd avg) and Cortney Grixby (17 kick returns, 25.8 yd avg)
are the top kickoff return team. Cortney Grixby (7 punt returns, 5.1 yd
avg) and Andre Jones (2 returns, 12.5 yd avg) are also the team's top punt
Coverage: Nebraska's coverage teams have been
average this season. The kick coverage unit is allowing an average of 20.4
yards on 16 kickoff returns, while the punt return coverage team allows a 6 yard
average on 9 punt returns.
Nebraska's Offense vs. Missouri's
Nebraska's offense has looked great in the passing game
over the past few weeks as QB Sam Keller is progressing nicely in the west coast
offense. The Nebraska receivers had been getting better, but last week
against Iowa State, the dropped balls seen in the first two games
reappeared. One thing to look for is whether or not Nebraska receiver
Maurice Purify makes the trip to Columbia. His girlfriend tragically
killed in a car accident in California last Saturday, and although he is
expected to play, it is not necessarily 100%. If he is not playing,
Nebraska's receiving corps becomes very average and doesn't have another proven
big-time threat to take his place. Missouri's defensive backfield hasn't
set the world on fire, and has struggled against some inferior competition in
Ole Miss and Illinois, both teams earning over 300 yards passing. Keep in
mind that against Illinois, it was a back-up quarterback doing most of the
work. Missouri is allowing opponents to complete 61% of their passes,
while Nebraska QB Sam Keller is completing 65% of his throws. Keller has
the ability to throw all over the Missouri defense.
The Nebraska run game
has not been a particularly strong commodity for the Huskers lately.
Marlon Lucky is still getting pretty good yards, with 107 yards last week on
just 16 carries. Still, as a whole, the blocking up front needs to show
improvement for these backs to get an initial burst. Missouri is giving up
4.2 yards per carry this season, while Nebraska's running backs are averaging
4.7 yards per carry. Ole Miss was able to get 6 yards per carry against
the Tigers, but that is really the only poor performance the rush defense has
had this season. Missouri's defense is allowing opponents to convert 37%
of their third down conversions, while holding opponents to a great 63% success
in red-zone scoring. Meanwhile, Nebraska is converting 46% of their third
downs and maintains a solid 87% red-zone scoring offense.
front, Nebraska's offensive line is much bigger than Missouri's defensive
line. Nebraska's average offensive lineman is 6'5", 312 lbs, while Iowa
State's average defensive lineman stands at just 6'3", 280 lbs. The Husker
tackles will have to show that they can deal with the quickness of the Missouri
ends if they want to keep Sam Keller off the turf. Nebraska's offensive
line has not been blocking well in the run game, but has done a quality job
protecting QB Sam Keller. The Huskers have given up 5 sacks this season,
while Missouri has 24 tackles for loss and 8 sacks this season. Missouri's
ability to put on a good pass rush will be critical to their defensive success,
especially if Nebraska is not able to generate a great running game.
Missouri's Offense vs. Nebraska's
Missouri's offense is tough to stop behind QB Chase
Daniel, who is on pace to flirt with 4000 passing yards this season. His
mobility in the pocket is a major plus, and playing in shotgun formations in the
spread attack also gives him a great view of the field, despite his relatively
short 6' even frame. Nebraska's defensive front hasn't put a great pass
rush together this season, but did earn 3 sacks last week against an Iowa State
team that had given up just 3 sacks all season long. Daniel has some
outstanding playmakers to get the ball to in receivers Jeremy Maclin and Will
Franklin, as well as the phenomenal TE duo of Martin Rucker and Chase
Coffman. Nebraska's defensive backfield was obliterated by Ball State two
weeks ago, but has played quite well outside of that game, especially now that
CB Zack Bowman is 100%.
The Missouri running game has been
effective this season with Tony Temple leading the charge. Temple has
rushed for over 96 yards in each of the last 3 games while averaging over 6
yards per carry. Nebraska's defense was improved against the run last week
after not looking very good the three games prior. Still, Nebraska does
miss more tackles than they should, which will be a big problem Saturday if that
is not sewn up. This is not a great running team, but because of their
spread attack, it does allow for some big gains when teams aren't looking for
it. Nebraska's linebackers were much improved last week, but still not
where they need to be. Missouri's third down conversion percentage is a
57%, and has an above average 88% red-zone scoring average. The Nebraska
defense has been poor on 3rd downs, especially of late, allowing opponents to
convert on 41% of their attempts. In the red-zone, the Husker defense has
not been impressive, allowing opponents an 85% red-zone scoring
Missouri's average offensive lineman is 6'6", 314 lbs, while
Nebraska's average defensive lineman comes in at 6'4", 284 lbs. Missouri
should continue to give good pass protection to QB Chase Daniel, as the Husker
defensive front hasn't scared anyone yet this season. Nebraska has picked
up 34 tackles for loss and just 6 sacks through five games, however, earned 9
tackles for loss and 3 sacks last week against Iowa State. Nebraska's
defense is allowing a huge 4.7 yards per carry, which is due to poor angles and
poor tackling that plagued the Huskers in games two through four of the
season. Missouri, averaging 5.7 yards per carry this season have to
believe they can run it on the Huskers.
Keys to the Game
For Nebraska to
1.) Consistency in the passing game. A solid game from
Keller, and minimal drops from the receivers.
2.) Win turnover battle.
Giveaways kept Iowa State in the game last week. Takeaways put them
3.) Eliminate penalties. Can't afford to kill drives with false
starts and holds, or give new life to opponent with roughing flags.
have a competent rushing game.
5.) Tackle well, don't give up big
plays. Missouri is explosive.
For Missouri to
1.) Keep Daniel on his feet, allow him to pick on a suspect
Nebraska pass defense.
2.) Tony Temple needs to have a solid game.
Can't throw interceptions. Daniel has thrown two picks in each of the last
4.) Get the ball to Jeremy Maclin, he has been outstanding this
5.) Get after Nebraska QB Sam Keller, when under pressure, he has
made mental errors this season.
Special Teams: Nebraska
WR - Maurice Purify - personal
DE - Clayton Sievers - questionable
DT - Ty Steinkuhler -
knee - questionable
RB - Cody Glenn - knee - questionable
OG - Andy
Christensen - knee - out for season
RB - Kenny Wilson - leg - out for
OT - Dain Wise - knee - questionable
Danario Alexander - wrist - questionable
DE - John Stull - suspension - out
Game Breakdown &
This is the 101st meeting between Missouri and
Nebraska. The Huskers hold a comfortable 63-34-3 record all-time against
the Tigers. However, recent history has shown things to be more
competitive between these two teams. The Huskers and Tigers are deadlocked
at 2-2 over the past 4 years, with neither team able to win on the road.
Last season, Nebraska defeated Missouri 34-20 in Lincoln, as the Huskers used a
balance attack offensively (236 passing, 183 rushing) and a solid defensive
effort to get the victory. Missouri defeated Nebraska in 2005, 41-24 in
Columbia, as QB Brad Smith led the Tigers to 17 unanswered points in the second
half to get the big win. Missouri hasn't beaten Nebraska 3 consecutive
times at home since 1957-1961, before the Huskers' program really took off.
Missouri and head coach Gary Pinkel are right where they're
supposed to be, coming into this game 4-0. Although the level of
competition hasn't been great, they did what they needed to do to get
victories. The season started with a tough-fought game with Illinois, as
the Missouri defense struggled to stop Eddie McGee, Illinois' back-up QB.
The Tigers were victorious in large part to special teams and defensive
touchdowns. In the Tigers' second game, against Ole Miss, Missouri again
struggled in the second half, giving up big yardage in both the run and passing
games. QB Chase Daniel was again explosive, throwing for over 300 yards
and 5 touchdowns. The past two games haven't been as competitive,
defeating Western Michigan 52-24 and Illinois State 38-17. Missouri has
had two weeks to prepare for this week's game against the Huskers. A
victory Saturday against Nebraska would be a big step towards winning the Big
XII North division this season.
Nebraska is where they should be as well,
at 4-1. Nebraska dominated their season opener against Nevada 52-10,
rushing for 413 yards and passing for 212. The next week at Wake Forest
they were unable to do much offensively, but still won 23-20. Week three
against USC was a debacle, as the Trojans squashed the Husker defense for 457
yards in route to a 49-31 victory in Lincoln. Game four against Ball State
was expected to go much smoother, but it did not. Nebraska found
themselves in a shoot-out, giving up 610 yards, but coming out on top
41-40. Then last week against Iowa State, turnovers and penalties hurt
Nebraska, but they were still able to come away with a 35-17 win. Nebraska
hasn't performed as well as many had hoped, and a win over Missouri this week
would be a big boost of confidence for the Huskers.
should be able to throw the ball with relative ease against the Missouri
defense. For that to happen though, there will need to be a more
consistent effort from all involved. The Nebraska receivers cannot afford
to drop wide open passes, Sam Keller must be pin-point with his throws, and the
offensive line will need to keep the aggressive pass rush of Missouri held in
check. If WR Maurice Purify decides he will make the trip to Columbia, it
will give Nebraska a huge target against a mediocre Missouri defensive
backfield. If he doesn't make the trip, it puts a lot of pressure on other
receivers that are not at the level of a Purify. The offensive line must
do a better job of rush blocking so that RB Marlon Lucky can be a difference
maker again this season. Teams have found success against Missouri running
the football, teams with less talent than Nebraska. Missouri's defense has
to play their best football of the season Saturday, because Nebraska has shown
that they can move the ball up and down the field.
Missouri's offense is
running like a fine tuned machine, putting up a lot of yardage and points
through four games. QB Chase Daniel is completing 65.9% of his passes this
season and is has many great receiving targets on the field. To defend
against the Missouri spread attack last season, Nebraska ran many 3 man fronts
and enjoyed some success in doing so. Because of the lacking push up-front
from the defensive line, it won't be a surprise for Nebraska to put an extra
linebacker or defensive back on the field again this season. Missouri's
numerous receiving threats, including their two great tight ends, Rucker and
Coffman, will present problems for Nebraska's defensive backfield, especially
with how inconsistent their play has been. As for the run game, Missouri
has been putting up an average of 200 yards per game, which isn't too bad
considering they are more of a pass oriented team. Nebraska was
outstanding against Iowa State last week against the rush, holding the Cyclones
to just 2.6 yards per carry on 51 attempts. They will need that type of
performance to carry over to this weekend.
Both Nebraska and Missouri
should be able to put up a good amount of points in this game, and could easily
be won by the team who has the ball last. The difference should be
whichever team can have a more effective rushing attack. Nebraska has a
better stable of running backs, while Nebraska and Missouri's offensive lines
are similar in terms of talent and production. Nebraska has been playing
against better offenses and defenses up to this point in the season and that
should help them, especially the tough road victory at Wake Forest.
Missouri always seems to find a way to lose when they are in a good position in
the standings, which is something to consider. Look for Nebraska to get
their first win in Columbia since 2001, but by a narrow
Missouri - 35
Nebraska vs. Missouri Game Preview
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