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 16-0. "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 Postgame Notes vs. Missouri, Sept. 25, 1999
* No. 6/5 (AP/Coaches) Nebraska recorded its 100th win of the 90s (100-15-1) with a 40-10 win over Missouri in Columbia. Nebraska is the first Division I program to win 100-plus games in consecutive decades as NU was 103-20-0 in the 80s. The win was Nebraska?s 21st straight over Missouri and 25th straight conference opening win as the Huskers improve to 4-0 on the season. Missouri drops to 2-1. Nebraska defense scored first on a safety, and went up 16-0 in the first quarter after Matt Davison caught a 7-yard pass from Eric Crouch and Crouch scored on a 31-yard run. The 16 first-quarter points bettered the 13 first-quarter points the Huskers had totaled in the first three games. NU led 19-3 at halftime after both teams hit on field goals. NU has allowed 10 points in the first half of four games (66-10 differential) and just 30 total points in four games. Missouri scored a TD on a 26-yard pass against Husker reserves with 2:13 remaining in the game for the final 40-10 score.
* Husker Defense Scores Again...Nebraska?s Blackshirts scored on a safety on Missouri?s first possession, giving the Husker defense 16 points this season. The safety was a result of a bad snap that went over MU punter Vince Sebo?s head. It was Nebraska?s first safety since recording one against Missouri on Nov. 9, 1996 (fumbled out of end zone).
* More Husker Defense...Missouri entered today?s games averaging 310 yards rushing, but was held to just 13 at halftime and 25 for the game, tying the season low (Southern Miss also had 25 yards rushing). Nebraska has given up a total of 147 rushing yards in four games (36.75). This marks the first time since 1997 that the Huskers have held each of its first four opponents to less than 100 yards rushing. The most rushing yards against the Huskers this year was 57 by Iowa in the opener. MU?s DeVaughn Black entered the game averaging 172.5 ypg rushing (fourth in the nation). He had 36 at halftime and led Mizzou with 39 in the game. Nebraska held Missouri to 174 yards of total offense (season low was 145 by Cal this season). Three of Nebraska?s four opponents this season have been held to less than 175 yards of total offense and the four opponents average 195.25. USM had the most with 293 last week.
* Nebraska has had at least three sacks in every game this season and had four tonight, including sacks by LB Tony Ortiz 1-7; RE Demoine Adams and NT Steve Warren (Springfield, Mo. native) shared a 7-yard sack; RE Justin Smith 1-4 (first career sack); and RE J.P Wichmann 1-1.
* Jackson gets third Interception of Season...Linebacker Julius Jackson, in his first career start in 34 career games (starting for the injured Eric Johnson) recorded his third interception of the season (fourth of career). Jackson picked off freshman Kirk Farmer on his first series in the first quarter (first pass attempt). Nebraska scored on the next play on a 31-yard run by QB Eric Crouch. Jackson also had an interception against Iowa and one vs. Southern Mississippi last week when he scored a TD. For the second straight week, Jackson also recovered a fumble (caused by Ralph Brown) in the third quarter. (NU converted to TD).
* More Turnovers...Crouch threw his third interception of the season in the first quarter, but NU promptly intercepted it back (Jackson interception) and Missouri did not convert. Nebraska I-back Dan Alexander turned the ball over on a fumble in the second quarter which Missouri converted into a Brad Hammerich 47-yard field goal, cutting NU?s lead to 16-3. That marked the first field goal against Nebraska this season. In the game, Missouri had two turnovers (one interception, one fumble, NU converted both to TDs); while NU had two turnovers (one interception, one fumble, MU converted to one field goal).
* Split End Matt Davison has now caught at least one pass in 20 consecutive games, dating back to the last two games of the 1997 regular season. Today he recorded his second career touchdown, fittingly in the same end zone as his first career TD against Missouri in 1997. Davison had a season-best five catches for 59 yards, including a 7-yard TD reception from QB Eric Crouch to give NU a 9-0 lead with 5:48 remaining in the first quarter.
* Wingback Bobby Newcombe caught his first pass since the 1997 season. He had a 2-yard pass on Nebraska?s first drive of the game and 2-55 total. Newcombe scored NU?s first TD of the second half on a career-long 53-yard reception from Crouch on NU?s first drive of the third quarter (12:26 remaining). That was Newcombe?s second career TD reception. Newcombe also had two punt returns for 27 yards.
* Husker I-back Correll Buckhalter led all rushers with a season-best 132 yards on 14 carries vs. Missouri, and scored on a 10-yard run with 3:31 in the third to give NU a 33-3 lead. Buckhalter had a 57-yard run to the MU 1-yard line at the end of the third quarter, putting him over the 100-yard mark for the first time this season and the fourth time in his career. (143 vs. La Tech, 133 vs. KU and most recently 125 vs. Missouri last year). Buckhalter is the first Husker this season to rush for 100 yards or more this season, ending a five-game streak in which NU did not have a 100-yard rusher. Dan Alexander started for the Huskers at I-back and had 10 rushes for 39 yards including a 4-yard TD which gave NU a 40-3 cushion with 9:51 remaining in the game.
* Quarterback Eric Crouch is now 6-2 as the Husker starting quarterback. Tonight he rushed 15 times for a season-best-tying 92 yards (also had 92 vs. Iowa), including a 31-yard TD run. He completed 10 of 71 passes for a season-best 143 yards, with one interception and two TDs, including a 7-yard TD pass to Matt Davison and a 53-yard TD pass to Bobby Newcombe.
* Next Week...Nebraska hosts Oklahoma State in an 11:38 a.m. kickoff on the Big 12 Syndicated game of the week.