No. 6 Nebraska 40, Missouri 10
COLUMBIA, Mo. (AP) _ This time, Nebraska needed no last-second heroics against Missouri. Not by a long shot.
The No. 6 Cornhuskers 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.