It'd been exactly 30 years since Missouri won a football game in Lincoln. You couldn't fin find anybody (and seriously we mean anybody) willing to go out on a limb and suggest Nebraska remotely even had a chance last night. These are two different programs. Nebraska's on it's third coach in 5 years. The Tigers have their version of Tommie Frazier in Chase Daniel. None of these Missouri players were even a dirty thought in 1978. And yet somehow, last night's blowout-with-ease effort is easily right up there with the worst losses in the past 10 years, equally embarrassing as some of the other biggies as we play "Remember When" here in a second.
And let's not forgot: Chase Daniel sat out the entire 3rd quarter. The score was MU 52, NU 10 as the 3rd quarter ended, and that was really it. Missouri brought in anyone who didn't have a jersey dirty yet to get in on what would be their longest (at least according to the clock) drive in the 4th quarter.
Nebraska is still so desperate for answers that they wound up switching punters. Missouri didn't punt once. Nebraska had 10 penalties before Missouri even had one.
Read that last paragraph again, and remember this game was in Lincoln, and the Missouri punting unit could have spent their trip to Lincoln trying to find Melissa Midwest or the other two Playboy Playmates who were down at the N Zone. Mizzou hung 52 on Nebraska (again, this was IN Lincoln), and this wasn't even a team coached by Callahan.
Oh, for those of you scoring at home, or even if you're alone, let's look at those biggest losses of the Post-Osborne Era, and fuck it, we're even in the mood to rank 'em:
- Colorado 62, Nebraska 36: First official sign that Frank Solich was in trouble, but again, this game was in Boulder, CO at least.
- Kansas 76, Nebraska 39: Final nail in the Callahan coffin
- Missouri 52, Nebraska 17: Only the worst home loss since 1955. You know, before Elvis, and we don't mean Elvis Peacock
- Texas Tech 70, Nebraska 10: First real sign that this whole Billy C act might night work in Lincoln; Pollyanna Husker fan will use this score as a barometer for next week's game (...at least they didn't lose 70-10 like they did the last time they played there...").
- Oklahoma State 45, Nebraska 14: Final nail in the Stevie P experiment, and until last night, the worst home loss anyone could remember
Tonight was a statement game for the Pelini era. Let's remember some very important things. Frank Solich recruited kids to come to Nebraska based upon the style of offense he wanted to run. Billy C brought in (alleged) 5 star recruits who could run his West Coast Offense. That means different quarterbacks, linemen, receivers. The biggest difference was that Solich, unlike Callahan, recognized he needed to make a big change and find the right guy to fix his defense. And of course, we know what happened. Solich (with a strong recommendation from Pete Carroll of all people) made the right decision, hiring the guy who just now happens to be the current Head Coach at Nebraska. Callahan forgot there was a need to play defense, and his loyalty to Kevin Cosgrove was a liability.
Pelini's other problem perception-wise is he can't use the "I don't have MY players" excuse that Callahan sold everyone on. Billy C kept Joe Dailey in as quarterback for all of that brutal 2004 season to suggest to everyone that Solich left the cupboard bare, and that he had to have the RIGHT quarterback in place to orchestrate his complex offense.
Last night, Nebraska committed 14 penalties. Missouri had only 1. I'm sorry folks, but that's coaching.
As bad a taste that Callahan left in all of our mouths -- so much so that the Husker Radio Network won't even mention the guy by name, something that is completely telling and funny itself -- you can't say he didn't leave at least some talent for Pelini and company to work with. He still has a competent quarterback in Joe Ganz, but since game 1, it seems that neither Shawn Watson nor Pelini know which direction to move Ganz.
The Husker Sports Network spent the 2nd half saying things like "This team just needs to forget about all of this and just move on" and "We told you earlier there would be bumps in the road. This is just one of them, and you fans just need to get past this and move on."
Let's listen to what the Corn's new fearless leader had to say to find the truth (and if anything else, you have to give credit to Bo for at least being completely blunt): "It all starts with me. We got out-coached tonight. We weren't well enough prepared. We got beat and we got beat soundly. I'm the head of this ship and I take full responsibility for it. I have to do a better job."
That's refreshing to an extent, but can it help a Husker Nation who woke up this morning (or is probably still asleep following a game that didn't officially end until after 11:30pm central time) wondering if this team is going to win another game this year. None of the remaining 7 games are gimmies. Not Iowa State at Ames. Not Baylor at home.
So how much of a pass are we going to give Pelini five games into his regime. The expectation level was that he'd finish this 5-game home stand at least 4-1, and if they somehow lost to both Virginia Tech and Missouri, they had at least better keep both games close and play with that old-school passion.
Missouri brought back the Billy C ghosts. The Huskers let a much better Missouri team waltz into Lincoln and made it look like a Spring Scrimmage. This was worse than last season's USC ass-whooping in Lincoln. Fans certainly love Pelini's honesty in standing in front of the media and taking all the bullets and blame for this mess. But what will they say when this team finishes 3-9?
The best anyone can hope for is that the Huskers find a way to beat Iowa State on the road, use what (at leased used to be) home field advantage to beat Baylor, grow by the point that when Kansas and Colorado come to Lincoln that the Corn can squeak wins out of those games, letting Pelini finish year one 7-5 and draw a Bowl Game. Others think a win at Manhattan, KS is still a possibility.
But from what we saw last night, this Nebraska team isn't going to win another conference game this year. Through the litter and the wreckage of the past four years, Nebraska fan is bloated with entitlement, and walking dazed and drunk. It is important to remember that this is the first head coaching job Pelini's ever had. He's still a very young guy and very much learning on the job. You'd just like to think his first year is going to finish better than his predecessor's first one did.
Another huge difference between the past two opponents worth pointing out: Despite both teams traveling very well, we mentioned how rather friendly the Hokie fans were. They made numerous efforts to make friends with everyone, and to Nebraska's credit, they didn't want to hold hands with all of them and sing "Hands Across America", but everyone had very nice time. But regarding Missouri fan...the best way to describe them (and this impression was made BEFORE kick-off mind you) is "white trash". It's not that they weren't well-behaved, nor did Nebraska fan want to pick fights with any of them. They just weren't a rather impressive group, those Tiger fans. Maybe a lot of that has to do with the fact that, you know, they're still trying to understand this whole concept that their football program is currently one of the best in the nation, and they have a quarterback who very well is going to walk away with the 2008 Heisman Trophy.
The most telling quotes regarding both fan bases. Va Tech fans left last Sunday morning letting any Husker loyalist by saying, "We all had a very nice time here, thank you all for your hospitality." Of course, after going home with a satisfying win can put anyone in a good mood. This, though, came from those in Missouri colors: "Man, you guys just suck. Sorry."