COLUMBIA, Mo. (AP) -- This time, Nebraska needed no last-second
heroics against Missouri. Not by a long shot.
The Cornhuskers (No. 6 ESPN/USA Today, No. 5 AP) capitalized on two high punt snaps and an
interception to take a 16-point first-quarter lead en route to a
40-10 victory over Missouri on Saturday night. Missouri, which has
lost 36 straight games to top-10 opponents since 1981, had two
punts blocked for touchdowns in its opener against
Alabama-Birmingham Sept. 4.
"It's real simple," Missouri coach Larry Smith said. "We
stunk. That's the worst excuse for a football team I've ever seen
in my life."
Eric Crouch threw for two touchdowns and ran for one as Nebraska
(4-0) won its 100th game of the 1990s -- one fewer than the decade's
top team, Florida State. Nebraska has won 21 straight over Missouri
since 1978, has won 25 straight conference openers and has
outscored opponents 147-30, thanks mostly to its defense.
Nebraska held Missouri (2-1) to a second-quarter field goal and
Julius Jackson had an interception and a fumble recovery, both
setting up touchdowns.
"I guess I've got the magnet body," Jackson said. "We blew
them away, and that's good."
Nebraska's offense also came alive as Crouch hit former
quarterback Bobby Newcombe for a 53-yard score in the second half
and Correll Buckhalter ran for 132 yards on 14 carries with a
touchdown. Crouch had 92 yards rushing on 15 carries and was
10-for-17 for 143 yards.
"We knew we had to come out and get something going," Crouch
said. "If we execute the way we can, we've got tremendous athletes
and great players."
Missouri, which had been No. 4 in the country with 310 yards per
game, was held to 25 yards and gave up 333.
Nebraska played at Missouri for the first time since Matt
Davison's miracle catch forced overtime and preserved an unbeaten
season in 1997, and the game drew a sellout crowd of 68,174.
Davison, a junior, caught a 7-yard scoring pass in the first
quarter Saturday night.
"This is a fun place to play," Davison said. "I wish we could
play here every week, I guess, if I'm going to score a touchdown."
The first two snaps from Ben Davidson, both from the Missouri
35, sailed over the head of punter Jared Gilpin. The first was
about 10 feet too high and Gilpin bobbled it once in full retreat
before slapping it out of the end zone for a safety with 13:13 left
in the first quarter.
Gilpin leaped to get his hands on the second snap but it got
away, and he finally threw a desperate pass that fell incomplete.
Five plays later, Crouch hit Davison for a 9-0 lead.
Jackson intercepted Kirk Farmer's pass to give Nebraska the ball
at the Missouri 31 with two seconds left in the quarter. On the
next play, Crouch ran around right end on the option to make it
"He's a sophomore and he went bananas on the first one," Smith
said. "From there on out, it was miserable."
Davidson said he hadn't had a high snap since spring practice.
"I did my practice snaps on the sidelines, just like always,"
Davidson said. "They were perfect. I got a bit emotional, and I
tried to throw too hard, I guess."
Jackson recovered a fumble by wide receiver Brandon Ford at the
Missouri 30 in the third quarter to set up a 10-yard scoring run by
Correll Buckhalter, who became the first Nebraska back in six games
to run for 100 yards.
Nebraska led 19-3 at the break, the first time in 21 games that
Missouri did not lead at halftime. The Cornhuskers had a whopping
196-52 advantage in yardage.
Missouri was held to a 47-yard field goal by Brad Hammerich in
the second quarter before Travis Garvin's 26-yard catch from Farmer
with 2:13 to go.
Jim Doughtery, who shares the job with Farmer and got the start,
left with a sprained knee in the third quarter. Dougherty
originally hurt the knee in the opener.
|Nebraska's Steve Warren, right, and DeMoine Adams sack Missouri quarterback Kirk Farmer.||
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