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Nebraska 24, Missouri 13

I got up late Saturday morning, so I unfortunately had to skip breakfast and hurried to catch the early kickoff of the NU-MU game. This threw me a bit out of whack -- about the time the ballgame started, my stomach was wishing I had slurped down some breakfast cereal on the way out the door. But as it turns out, Nebraska's stirring 24-13 victory provided plenty of breakfast-style fun -- from an offense that milked the clock, to Mizzou's Tony the Tiger-lookin' mascot, to a Husker punter who's apparently been forgetting to eat his Wheaties. And in the end, the day belonged to Nebraska's Blackshirts, who, though they were playing without Special K at rush end, brought their hefty hunger to the table. The result? Bohl after Bohl of some nasty Corn Pops.

A few takes:

TO THE RESCUE: After watching Brad "OK-maybe-HE'S-the-next-Michael-Vick" Smith wage a one-man Holy War against mighty Oklahoma a week ago, many a Loon naturally expected the black-and-gold yards -- and points -- to rain down hard on Tom Osborne Field on Saturday. And hey, why not? In their first six games, NU's zone scheme had resulted in worse coverage than a "Stormy Dean for Governor" press conference. Things only seemed grimmer when resident madman Chris Kelsay was deemed unfit to play. Talk about a perfect time for a breakout defensive performance. Most gratifying was that the 'Shirts locked down Smith & Co. by swallowing their own pride. By basically dumping the zone and going man-up on the Tigger wideouts, NU allowed an extra 'backer to patrol the middle, just daring Mizzou to try that little inside run play of theirs. It worked; MU had nowhere to run or hide Saturday. Meanwhile, our long-lost friend, Gang Tackle, was back in full force. The Loon's game ball, most predictably, goes to the Blackshirts for a job well done.

AYE, BACKS: Frankie's head was probably ready to explode at midweek when he read his I-Backs' collective whine-and-cheese party in the newspapers. Most of the angst surrounded the sudden ascension of No. 5, David "Miso" Horne, to the high-rent district on NU's depth chart. It was tough to listen to such griping, especially since this year Running Back U. has looked more like Running Back P.U., quite frankly. Dee Dee has somehow turned into a slower, smaller version of Dan Alexander, Sonny Davis and Marques Simmons often think the ball is radioactive, and Thunder has phone-carded himself out of the mix. This is why Miso is such a breath of fresh air when he's in the game. In the finest tradition of an Omaha Central alum, he has a quick burst and apparently isn't afraid to use the lost art of cutting back. No, Horne is not Ahman Green -- or Calvin Jones or Keith Jones or Leodis Flowers, either, really -- but it's clear that when he's at the top of the I, Nebraska's offense takes on a dimension that has been sorely missing in the Solich Era. Here's hoping the kid can stay healthy and terrorize the Big 12 for three more autumns to come.

QUIET RIOT: And now, a word or two about Jammal Lord's (oxymoron alert) public silence. For the second straight week, Nebraska's starting quarterback refused interview requests following the win over Mizzou. Well, almost. According to one local TV bobblehead, at one point J. Lo came off the field and angrily woofed into a nearby TV camera: "All you critics ... you ain't nothin'." So, it's clear that the man who triggers Nebraska's offense has brewed up a dose of the old Nobody-Loves-Me Motivation Potion. This was as inevitable as death, taxes and a war in Iraq every few years. But quite honestly, this little cat-and-mouse game is getting a bit annoying, and here's why: Who in the press, really, has been coming down hard on Lord? If anything, they've given No. 10 the benefit of the doubt, in victory and in defeat. Hey, Jammal, if you want to shut off the media, fine. No big loss. The local hacks will make deadline quicker, because they'll have one less athlete spewing hopelessly banal statements in their direction, and you can spend the extra time boning up on the playbook. But if you're going to take such a high road, then at least be consistent. And that means stop barking into TV cameras on the sidelines in one of your "Yeah, I'm Bad" moments. Big words are fine, but not for someone who has yet to prove that he can produce in less-than-benign circumstances. And like Forrest Gump once said, "That's all I'm gonna say about that."

ON THE 'FENSE: Unbelievably, the Nebraska-Missouri game was not the Big 12 Game of the Week this week. Some insignificant contest down at the Cotton Bowl undeservedly got that honor, believe it or not. Perhaps I should file a formal complaint. After all, we all knew how the UT-OU game was going to go, didn't we? Let's dig up the old storyline: Texico's defense gives Oklahoma's offense some trouble? Check. OU's defense makes Chris Simms cry like a little girl? Check. Some weird loose-ball play near Texico's goal line results in a Sooner TD? Check. Lots of crowd shots showing hillbillies with nose hair so unkempt it looks as though they inhaled Ricky Williams? Check. Oh, and Oklahoma wins by 11? Uh, check. In one fell swoop, this game jumbled the national and conference rankings and solidified Simms' status as Destiny's Punching Bag. But still, I just have a hard time feeling bad for the Longhorns, y'know? Go figure.

THE BOTTOM LINE: It's safe to say that in years past, mapping out Nebraska's schedule in the preseason was more simplistic than a subplot on "Will & Grace." You looked down through the first 10 games, chalked 'em up as pretty much certain victories, and then put a "?" next to the last game -- Oklahoma and in recent years, Colorado. But in this brave new world of college football, those days are now gone. And in a power conference like the Big 12, the league schedule is a treacherous minefield just waiting for an unsuspecting enemy convoy to step inside. Nebraska won this battle today, but it remains to be seen if they have enough ammo to win the war. But an improving ground attack and a solid front line of defense are beginning to emerge, so anything is possible. The next theater of operations is Stillwater, Okla., a foreign outpost that NU has not invaded since the Frazier-Phillips days. Surely, Oklahoma A&M has stockpiled a few weapons and looks to be waiting in ambush for the Huskers, but it looks like the NU attack is finally starting to go on the offensive. It'll be a war ... hunh, good God, y'all. Nebraska 27, Oklahoma A&M 17.

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