Blackshirts, Special Teams Lead NU to Win
Nebraska vs. Missouri
Nebraska Post-Game Notes
Nebraska improved to 5-3 with the victory over Missouri and took over the Big 12 North lead with a 3-2 conference record.
Nebraska’s win was its 25th in the last 26 meetings with Missouri and the Huskers’ 14th straight victory over the Tigers in Lincoln.
The victory was Nebraska’s 36th straight victory on Homecoming, dating back to a 12-0 loss to Kansas State in 1968.
Nebraska’s blocked punt return for a touchdown in the second quarter marked the second straight week the Huskers have scored on an opponent punt attempt. Andrew Shanle blocked the Tiger punt and linebacker Adam Ickes scooped up the ball and returned it 16 yards for a touchdown to give Nebraska a 10-3 lead. Last week, Nebraska’s Daniel Bullocks picked up a botched Kansas State punt attempt and returned it for a touchdown.
Shanle’s block of the Missouri punt marked the first time the Huskers have blocked a punt since Demorrio Williams blocked a punt last season against Iowa State in Lincoln.
Shanle later recovered a fumbled Missouri punt attempt at the Missouri 15-yard line, and the Huskers scored one play later to take a 17-3 advantage.
Ickes’ blocked punt return for a touchdown marked the third straight Nebraska-Missouri game in Lincoln in which the Huskers have scored a non-offensive touchdown. In the Huskers’ 42-24 win over Mizzou in 2000, Bobby Newcombe returned a punt 94 yards for a touchdown. In 2002, Nebraska’s DeJuan Groce returned a punt 89 yards for a touchdown.
Junior I-back Cory Ross rushed 19 times for a career-high 194 yards and two touchdowns against Missouri. Ross’ career-best effort included a career-long 86-yard touchdown burst late in the fourth quarter to seal the Husker victory. It was the eighth-longest rushing touchdown in Nebraska history. His 194 yards surpassed his previous career-high of 169 yards on 27 carries set against Southern Miss earlier this season. His total was also the most by a Nebraska player since Jammal Lord ran for 234 yards against Texas on Nov. 2, 2002. Ross pushed his career rushing total to 1,572 yards to climb into 32nd place on the Nebraska career rushing list.
Cory Ross’ 86-yard scoring run in the fourth quarter continued a big play tradition for the Huskers against the Tigers. Nebraska has had at least one scrimmage play or return of 50 yards or more in each of the last nine meetings against Missouri, including plays of 85 yards or more in four of the last five meetings. In 2002, DeJuan Groce had an 89-yard punt return for a touchdown in a 24-13 Husker win. In 2001, Heisman Trophy winner Eric Crouch had a school-record 95-yard touchdown run in a 36-3 NU win. In 2000, Bobby Newcombe had a 94-yard punt return for a touchdown in a 42-24 win.
Senior linebacker Barrett Ruud made 17 tackles in today’s game, including eight in the first half. Today’s game marked the sixth straight game Ruud has had double figures in tackles and the seventh time in eight games in 2004. Ruud now has 19 double-figure tackle games in his Husker career and pushed his career tackle total to 398 with today’s effort. Ruud has 109 tackles this season and is just the fourth player in school history to record two seasons with 100 or more tackles, joining Lee Kunz, Jerry Murtaugh and Clete Pillen.
Ruud had four tackles for loss against Missouri, pushing his career total to 46 tackles for loss, good for second on the Nebraska career tackles for loss chart. In today’s game Ruud moved past Jim Skow and Trev Alberts into second place on the list. Ruud’s 14 tackles for loss this season are just three shy of the top 10 on the Nebraska single-season list.
The Nebraska defense limited Missouri to 51 rushing yards on 35 attempts in today’s game, marking the seventh opponent in eight games that has rushed for 105 yards or less against the Husker defense. The Huskers finished the game with 19 tackles for loss for 47 yards lost, including four sacks for 30 yards lost. quarterback hurries.
Missouri quarterback Brad Smith set the Nebraska opponent record for total-offense attempts with 77 on the day, surpassing the 74 total-offense attempts by Tim Rattay of Louisiana Tech on Aug. 29, 1998. Smith had 21 carries for 25 rushing yards and completed 24-of-56 passes for 277 yards with one interception. Smith’s 302 total offense yards did not rank among the top 10 performances by an opponent.
Junior free safety Josh Bullocks intercepted a fourth-quarter Brad Smith pass for his second interception of the season and the 13th of his Nebraska career. Bullocks’ 13 career interceptions total is one behind Nebraska career leader Dana Stephenson who had 14 picks in his Husker career.
Nebraska punter Sam Koch had a 65-yard punt in the third quarter of today’s game, the longest of his Nebraska career. For the game, Koch averaged 39.5 yards on 10 punts and buried Missouri inside its own 20-yard line on five occasions.
Junior cornerback Fabian Washington had a pass breakup in today’s game, his team-leading 12th of the season. Washington’s 12 breakups are tied for 10th on the single-season Nebraska breakup list. Washington now has 35 breakups in his career, fifth on the NU list, three behind Erwin Swiney.
Nebraska senior place-kicker Sandro DeAngelis connected on a 41-yard field goal in the first quarter to give Nebraska a 3-0 advantage. The 41-yard field goal was the longest of DeAngelis’ Nebraska career.
The two teams combined for 20 punts in today’s game, the most combined punts in a Nebraska game since Nebraska (10) and Oklahoma (10) combined for 20 punts in the Huskers’ 20-10 win over the Sooners in Lincoln on Oct. 27, 2001. Nebraska punted 11 times against the Tigers, while Missouri attempted nine punts against the Huskers.
Nebraska travels to Iowa State next Saturday, with kickoff scheduled for 1 p.m. There is no television coverage planned for the game.