R E D    C L A D    L O O N

Nebraska 36, Missouri 3

College football has always had this thing for the color gold. For proof, look to the fact that about half of Division 1 schools list it as one of their hues. There's the Golden Hurricane, the Golden Gophers, the Golden Bears ... and, of course, the Old Gold of the Misery Tigers. Before Saturday's contest against the Cornhuskers, MU implored its oh-so-clever fans to don that color to counter all the red that dotted Faurot Field's stands. It almost worked -- in the first half, Nebraska blew some golden opportunities -- but in the end they showed that all that glitters is not gold. In fact, after Eric Crouch's quicksilver sprint into history, what might be glittering most is a trophy made of bronze.

A few takes:

THE LINCOLN NAVIGATOR: Over the years, many wacky events have unfolded on the dreaded, knee-high Columbia turf. All of which, basically, have solidified the Tigers as destiny's punching bag. Misery has already seen a fifth-down touchdown and Matt Davison's immaculate reception, both of which helped the Tigers snatch defeat out of the clutches of victory. Now add Eric's end zone-to-end zone dash to that (in)famous list. In the course of 18 amazing seconds, No. 7 showed strength, busting free from Tiger D-lineman Nick Tarpoff. Then he showed moves, by putting a couple of sweet swaba-swabas on a pair of defensive backs (they reported seeing a blur). And, of course, Eric The Red showed his trademark finishing kick -- when Crouch got into the open field, he was gone faster than a box of Franzia white zinfandel at a baby shower. The winding, dekeing, jetting, record-setting run definitely provided fodder for the folks at FOX, who have already replayed it more times that "Married With Children." But good luck getting it shown more than once following all the Zak Kustok clips on ABC and ESPN. Still, somewhere, Lyell Bremser had to be letting out a heavenly "Man, Woman and Child." A no-brainer game ball goes to No. 7, if he would ever slow down enough for us to hand it to him.

RUNNING LATE: There were actually 10 other players on offense for Nebraska on Saturday, believe it or not. After a sluggish, sloppy start, NU fired on all pistons in the second half -- particularly after The Run. It's said that in times of great trial, a team's true colors show. And in Missouri's case, it was a yellow streak a mile wide. "Mile Wide" also could describe the holes that Nebraska was blowing into the Tiger defense in the fourth quarter. This allowed DeAnte Grixby and Josh Davis to look like Keith Jones and Tony Davis ... or maybe it was the other way around. At any rate, it was heartening to see NU wear MU's seventh-ranked defense down to a nub by the time the clock hit goose-eggs.

DOWN ON THE FARM: It's probably an understatement to mention that last year, Kirk Farmer had a decent game against the Blackshirts. Even Gary "Schembechler" Pinkel could see through his nifty prescription sunglasses that Farmer tends to get hot vs. NU. Farmer, whose appearance is best described as Richie Cunningham with a surfboard, made a surprise start and was looking to rock the Huskers once again. Nay, nay. This is not last year's Blackshirts. In fact, the current group is shaping up to be sharper than Maria Shriver's face. Embodiment of the defensive improvement is Scott Shanle, who last year often needed the aid of a firearm to cover receivers. But on Saturday he was looking like Ralph Brown. The Tigers wanted to hit their tight ends while NU was double-covering the speedy No. 12, Justin Gage (heh, heh ... 12-Gage ... get it?), but thanks to some stellar linebacking, that idea worked out about as well as David Caruso's film career. Another great turn by the Blackshirts.

FINISHING KICK: Many across the Husker Nation were howling after Sandro DeAngelis' first-quarter field goal got stuffed back in his face. But in The Pond, it was cause for relief. That meant it was a typical Husker contest, and they could go on and take care of business now. Still, so far this year the NU kicking game has been sadder than watching Florida State run the football. Consider: A botched extra point vs. TCU. A blocked field goal vs. Troy State. A blocked punt vs. the Domers. And, in the last two games, a blocked field goal and two more extra-point screw-ups. Don't think it's a big deal? Ask Michigan State, who outplayed Northwestern on Saturday but lost by one after missing three field goals and a PAT, if it's a big deal. This must be fixed by the time the Sooner Schooner rolls into town.

KELLEN ME SOFTLY: Saturday was a record-breaking day, all righty. Sure, sure, Eric Crouch's 95-yard touchdown run was nice. But the most notable record of the day was set with 24 seconds left in the third quarter. That's right -- FOX waited nearly three whole quarters to talk about Kellen Winslow. Ladies and gentlemen, a NEW WORLD RECORD! What, does he have something in his contract that requires an obligatory mention every time the Tigers play? Well ... on second thought, we probably shouldn't crack too hard on this recurring, cliche FOX tendency. After all, Missouri fans have had precisely nothing to cheer about since 1978.

THE BOTTOM LINE: If one looked closely on Saturday, he could detect a miniature flashback in the moments before halftime. In 1981 in Columbia, NU hit a big pass to set up a touchdown run with :23 left on the clock. The kicker missed the PAT, but the Huskers held on to win en route to a conference title and a shot at the national championship. Twenty years later on Saturday, the Huskers hit a big pass to set up a touchdown run with, yep, :23 left. And wouldn't you know it, the extra point went awry. Will history continue to repeat itself against the Iowa State Cyclones next weekend? In '81, ISU came into Lincoln with a punishing running back and gave the Cornhuskers fits before falling. Back here in the future, the 'Clones are unbeaten and smelling upset. But you won't need Marty McFly or Emmitt "Doc" Brown to figure out how to bet on this one. Time marches on, and so will the Huskers. Nebraska 31, Iowa State 7.

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