Tribune Online Sports

[Back | Archive]


Story ran on November 10, 1996

LINCOLN, Neb. -- On any given Saturday, anything can happen. Right?

Not in Nebraska, where randomness doesn't apply and parity is a myth. The
Cornhuskers' 51-7 victory over Missouri was a typical Memorial Stadium
whipping. Fifth-ranked Nebraska has

won 35 straight here, most of them as inevitable as yesterday's blowout.

``A loss is a loss, man, and it hurts either way,'' said MU tailback Brock
Olivo, who was held to 24 yards on 10 carries. ``I hope we're not thinking,
`Well, we expected to lose this one, so we can just go on.' I hope that's not
the case, and I don't think it is because we've worked hard and feel we can
play with anybody.''

The Tigers (3-6 overall, 1-5 Big 12) had played with everybody else on their
schedule. But different rules apply to Nebraska (8-1, 6-0). Before the game,
the Tigers were searching for a weakness in the Nebraska defense.

Did they find one?

``No,'' said MU quarterback Kent Skornia, who played the majority of the game
after Corby Jones was sidelined with a hip pointer. ``Even with the DBs and
corners, usually we go into a game and say we're going to pick on somebody.
Everybody was so good, there wasn't a guy to pick on.''

MU entered the game as the 13th-best rushing offense in the nation. But the
Tigers hadn't seen anything that compared to Nebraska's speed on defense.
Missouri gained a mere 47 yards on the ground and didn't cross the 50-yard
line until late in the third quarter.

The fact that Jones and left guard Mike Morris (sprained ankle) left the game
in the second quarter didn't help. But Nebraska was so superior defensively,
it didn't make much difference. The Cornhuskers shut down the option game --
holding Jones to 1 yard on six carries -- and everything else in the MU
playbook.

The most troubling thing about the struggling offense was that it led to
punts. And punts led to trouble. Nebraska blocked two, and Vince Sebo dropped
a snap in the end zone for a safety.

Nebraska's defense and special teams scored 9 points and led directly to four
more touchdowns. The Cornhuskers forced four Missouri turnovers. That
contributed to three scoring drives that began inside Missouri's 10-yard line.

``We've got a lot of guys that are pretty quick and fly around a lot,''
Nebraska coach Tom Osborne said. ``They seem to knock the ball loose a lot.
You can say if it happened once or twice, it was just breaks. But after eight
or nine games into the season, we realize that there's something going on
there that's not just entirely chance.''

The Huskers' longest scoring drive of the first half was 25 yards, but they
still led 23-0 at the half. Turnovers and special team gaffes led to each
score.

In the first quarter, Randy Potter dropped a punt on Missouri's 25. Three
plays later, Brendan Holbein beat Potter for a 14-yard touchdown reception
with 4:47 left in the quarter.

The errors mounted in the second period.

Sebo dropped his second snap of the season to give Nebraska a safety. A Kent
Skornia interception led to a Scott Frost quarterback sneak for a touchdown.
Eric Warfield blocked a Jason Smith punt, and Terrell Farley returned it 9
yards for a score.

Despite the lopsided halftime score, Missouri's defense had played well.

``It's discouraging when you look up at the scoreboard, but again we shot
ourselves in the foot,'' MU coach Larry Smith said. ``But it wasn't the fault
of the defense, that's for sure.''

No phase of Missouri's game was effective in the second half. On Nebraska's
first play of the third quarter, Ahman Green ran through tackle attempts by Al
Sterling and DeMontie Cross and scored on a 56-yard run. Green, who finished
with 161 yards on 12 carries, ripped off a 70-yarder on the next drive,
leading to a 1-yard touchdown by DeAngelo Evans.

Evans scored again after Mike Rucker recovered a Skornia fumble on the MU
4-yard line. Matt Turman, the second of five Nebraska quarterbacks to play,
added a touchdown to give the Cornhuskers' a 51-0 lead with 3:49 left in the
third quarter.

Missouri got its only score with 2:02 left in the game when John McArthur hit
Jay Murchison on a 24-yard touchdown pass.

Devin West was the only Tiger who ran the ball productively. He gained 49
yards on 10 carries. Skornia completed four of 12 passes for 45 yards and two
interceptions.

``They have overwhelming speed,'' Skornia said. ``They can get four, five or
six guys to the ball every time. When you have that type of speed, you can
take chances. When they take chances, they usually succeed.''

By JOE WALLJASPER

CUTLINE

Nebraska's Terrell Farley, left, Jon Hesse, middle, and Ralph Brown sandwich
Missouri fullback Ron Janes yesterday during the Huskers' 51-7 trouncing of
the Tigers. (Sean Meyers photo)


[Back | Archive]

Send questions or comments to: webmaster@trib.net