Daniel And Unbeaten Missouri Bask In Big Win Over Nebraska
Sunday, October 7th 2007, 6:49 pm
By: News On 6
COLUMBIA, Mo. (AP) _ Missouri was playing so well, no one wanted to leave. Even if midnight was closing in.
Traffic snaked out of Faurot Field more than an 1 1/2 hours after the Tigers' dominating late-night 41-6 victory over No. 25 Nebraska on Saturday. The game finished so late quarterback Chase Daniel was 20 when it started and 21 just minutes after the finish.
``I was one of the first to wish him a happy birthday,'' coach Gary Pinkel joked.
Yet, the vast majority of the school's first sellout crowd since 2003 stuck around to cheer the touchdown pass on a fourth-quarter fake field goal that rubbed it in against a school that once held the upper hand for decades, and to root for the reserves who closed out the Tigers' most complete performance in recent memory.
Missouri rose to 11th on Sunday, the school's highest ranking since 1981 and up six spots from last week. Nebraska was knocked out of the Top 25.
``We lit them up tonight,'' Daniel said after throwing for a career-best 401 yards and two touchdowns, and running for two more scores. ``It was an unbelievable atmosphere, unlike anything I've ever been in.''
Missouri (5-0, 1-0 Big 12) fed off the throng of 70,049, most of them clad in yellow for a so-called ``Gold Rush'' game. The Tigers rang up 41 points against Nebraska (4-2, 1-1) for the third straight time at home, and held the Cornhuskers without a touchdown for the first time in the series since 1958 _ the first year on the job for Dan Devine.
``I don't know if people realize the impact those fans have, and what it does for the emotion and enthusiasm level of the team,'' Pinkel said. ``That was my dream when I came here, to have the stadium like that all the time.
``Obviously we haven't done that yet, but certainly we have the potential to do it.''
It's not going to get easier for the Tigers, 5-0 for the second straight year. Next up is No. 10 Oklahoma next Saturday on the road.
But their confidence level could not be any higher entering the meat of the Big 12 schedule.
``A school like Nebraska doesn't score a touchdown, that's a big story, and our defense played unbelievable,'' Daniel said. ``If our defense plays like that week in and week out or even close to that, and we keep putting up points, the sky's the limit.''
Missouri was 6-0 last year before falling off, finishing at 8-5. Pinkel, now 2-15 against ranked opponents in seven seasons at the school with Nebraska the victim both times, has constantly reminded players to keep their sights set high.
``We talked about it at the beginning of the year, that if you want to make a move you've got to win some big games and beat some of the best teams,'' Pinkel said. ``This was one. This was a test, we passed this.
``The bad news is we've got to wake up and start preparing for Oklahoma.''
Nebraska, meanwhile, must pick up the pieces. The Cornhuskers entered the game averaging 36 points before Missouri's unproven defense held them without a touchdown for the first time since a 31-3 loss to Oklahoma on Nov. 13, 2004.
``One loss is one loss,'' quarterback Sam Keller said. ``But we got blown out and it hurts. It hurts for all of us.''
Coach Bill Callahan said Nebraska just didn't execute.
``We had guys in position time after time after time,'' Callahan said. ``I'm not pointing the finger and I love our players, don't get me wrong.
``I'm just giving credit to them. They made the plays, and we didn't.''