Columbia, Mo. - The No. 25 Nebraska football team struggled to get rolling on offense and was unable to stop MU quarterback Chase Daniel and the Missouri offense in a 41-6 loss to the No. 17 Tigers in front of a sellout crowd at Faurot Field late Saturday night.
The Huskers slipped to 4-2 overall and 1-1 in the Big 12 with the loss, while Missouri improved to 5-0 overall with a victory in its Big 12 opener. The loss also snapped Nebraska's eight-game winning streak against Big 12 North Division foes. Nebraska's loss to the Tigers was one of 11 losses by Associated Press Top 25 teams on the weekend. Four top 10 squads suffered setbacks, including No. 2 USC, No. 5 Wisconsin, No. 8 Kentucky and No. 9 and defending national champion Florida, who suffered a loss for the second straight week. All four teams at the bottom of the top 25 also took losses on Saturday, including No. 21 Rutgers, No. 22 Clemson, No. 23 Purdue and No. 24 Kansas State.
In a nationally televised game on ESPN, Missouri jumped to a quick 14-0 lead in the first half and never looked back. Missouri amassed 606 yards of total offense, including 411 through the air and 195 on the ground. The Huskers managed 297 yards, including 223 yards passing and 74 rushing yards.
The Tigers won the coin toss, elected to receive and marched 80 yards in 12 plays capped by Daniel's one-yard scoring run with 10:15 left in the opening stanza. That proved to be all the offense the Tigers would need on the night, but Daniel kept the points coming. He added the first of two passing touchdowns when he connected with Chase Coffman on a six-yard touchdown pass to push MU's lead to 14-0 with 4:57 left in the opening quarter.
Daniel completed 33-of-47 passes for 401 yards with two touchdowns through the air. He added 72 yards and two rushing touchdowns on just 11 carries. Martin Rucker led the Tiger receiving corps with nine catches for 109 yards, including one touchdown. Five Missouri receivers had more than 50 receiving yards, including Coffman and Danario Alexander who both notched touchdown receptions.
Nebraska senior quarterback Sam Keller completed 25-of-43 pass for 223 yards, but the Huskers were held out of the end zone on the night, settling for a pair of Alex Henery field goals. Henery connected on a 26-yard field goal in the first quarter, before adding a career-long 39-yarder in the second quarter to improve to 5-for-5 on the season. Unfortunately, it marked the first time since a 30-3 loss at Oklahoma in 2004, that Nebraska was unable to score a touchdown.
Henery's first field goal came with 49 seconds left in the opening quarter and pulled NU with 14-3. Missouri's Jeff Wolfert answered with a 23-yard field goal with 5:28 left in the half, before Henery connected on his second field goal with 1:51 remaining until intermission. Wolfert pushed the lead back to 14 points at 20-6 at halftime with a 33-yard field goal with nine seconds to go in the half.
"To their credit, they played well and played hard and played almost perfectly in a sense, so you have to give Missouri credit," Nebraska Coach Bill Callahan said. "I felt coming out of the half that we had a chance to get back in it, but the first possession didn't go well for us and things never really materialized."
The second half was all Tigers, as Daniel led Missouri to a pair of touchdown drives in the third quarter, before Missouri scored its final touchdown on a 10-yard pass from Tommy Saunders to Martin Rucker on a fake field goal with 12:52 left in the game.
Senior cornerback Zackary Bowman led the Nebraska defense with a career-high eight tackles to go along three pass breakups on the night. Senior linebacker Bo Ruud added 10 stops on the night to surpass the 200-tackle mark for his career. He also moved past his father, Tom, on NU's career tackle chart. Senior linebacker Lance Brandenburgh also added a career-high 10 tackles.
Marlon Lucky led Nebraska's rushing game with 67 yards on 17 carries, while also leading the Huskers with seven receptions for 56 yards. Trailing from start to finish, Nebraska rushed the ball just 20 times, including carries by wide receivers Maurice Purify and Terrence Nunn. Purify added five catches for 40 yards, but Nunn had his streak of 32 consecutive games with at least one catch snapped.
"I thought Marlon really played hard and ran hard and did some good things for us," Callahan said. "I also thought we had some guys play really hard and give great efforts on the field. I know it is hard to take anything positive from a loss like this, but we have to find the positives and focus on them as we continue in our season because that is the only way we are going to get better."
The Huskers return to Memorial Stadium for Homecoming on Saturday, Oct. 13, when they take on Oklahoma State. The Cowboys, who lost to Texas A&M earlier on Saturday, will kick off against the Huskers at 11:30 a.m. with an FSN pay-per-view telecast. Live radio coverage will also be provided by the Husker Sports Network, including a free live audio broadcast on Huskers.com.
In addition to the Homecoming festivities, Nebraska will welcome back the coaching staff and players from its 1997 national championship team for a special 10-year reunion weekend.
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