The daily Nebraskan. ([Lincoln, Neb.) 1901-current, October 22, 1998, Page 7, Image 7

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    Huskers know Missouri is ready
after last seasons narrow victory
By Sam McKewon
Senior editor
One stinking play.
That what's Missouri Coach Larry
Smith called it at the time. Nebraska
fans called it something different.
To them, it was The Play. The Catch.
i ne immaculate
Reception. Part
11. It was the play
where Shevin
W iggins kicked
the ball up in the
air. and Matt
Davison caught
it as time ran out
to tie the Tigers
38-38 and send
the game to
went on to win
4 5 - 3 8.
Davison's catch
saved the nation
al champi
onship. It also
may have rekin
dled a rivalry.
Now the No.
7 Cornhuskers
(6-1 overall and
2-1 in the Big 12
know No. 18
Missouri (5-1
and 3-0) is
expecting to
come to
Stadium and upset NU in a 11:37 a m.
game Saturday.
"What they did last year worked last
year, so yeah, it makes sense that they
think they could come up here and do it
again," Sam linebacker Brian Shaw
said. “We had some breakdowns last
year, so I'm sure they'll come in with
some confidence."
What Missouri did last season
doesn't necessarily fit the descnption of
how it played Nebraska in the late 1970s
and early 1980s, when the rivalry was
still thriving. Then, the Tigers did it with
defense, holdmg the Huskers under 40
points in every game from 1973 to
the best
These are the five best games in the Nebraska
Missouri rivalry (in descending order).
' , Missouri 38 OT - 1997
The Huskers needed a miracle catch by Matt
Davison to pull out their overtime victory and I
save a national championship. MU failed to |
convert on a key third down that allowed
Nebraska to have a chance to tie the game
Missouri 35 - 1978
It was the day James Wilder ran wild. The j
sophomore running back had 181 yards on
28 carries as Missouri upset the Huskers one
week after NU had knocked off No. 1
Missouri 0-1981
Nebraska didn't score until there were 23
seconds left in the game. Turner Gill, a
sophomore at the time, handed off to Phil
Bates for the winning score.
Missouri 34 -1976
In the shadow of the north end zone of
Memorial Stadium, quarterback Pete Woods
hit Joe Stewart for a 98-yard touchdown pass
on third down. It was the longest pass play
in Missouri and Nebraska history It propelled
MU to victory.
V ••••;•• • . Missouri 20 - 1985
Dale Klein hit a NCAA-record seven field
goals to help the Huskers stave off Missouri,
l-back Doug DuBose put the game away with
a 22-yard touchdown run.
Jqn FrankDN
Last year, the I lgers went the otfen
sive route, piling up 386 total yards on
the Blackshirts and scoring 38 points. It
still wasn't enough.
And even though Missouri has kept
the margin of v ictory against NU at 10
or below eight times in the last 19 years,
MU hasn't actually beaten the Buskers
since a 35-31 upset in 1978.
vvnicn is uk.
Smith said, since his
team isn't looking at
“I don't think
players live by jinx
es." Smith said.
‘Really what you got
to do is focus on what
you can do to beat
Nebraska, not what
beat you in the past "
Part of the past
that Smith would like
to relive is the physi
cal nature of the
game. NU-MU
games always were
considered hard-hit
ting. and late hits and
cheap shots entered
the fray.
Shaw said the
1997 version of the
series was much
more physical than in
the past.
“It was very phys
ical,” Shaw' said.
“You're talking about
two of the most phys
ical teams in the Big
12, arid you're going to get that kind of
Another new element in the rivalry
is the play of quarterback Corby Jones.
Jones is playing for the third time in
Lincoln. Last season, he almost single
handedly willed the Tigers on to victory,
passing for 233 yards, rushing for 60
and scoring four touchdowns.
Nebraska quarterback Bobby
Newcombe played in last year's game as
a wingback and has high praise for the
semor from Columbia, Mo.
“He's a tremendous athlete,"
Newcombe said. “I can relate to what
he’s trying to do offensively. He's a guy
I can look up to"
of great people aod
moments In the
Meferaska/Mfssayri rivalry.
^ . A
Coaches Tam Osborne and Sob Qeeaney, Mil Coach Larry SffWBfffbratbr MU I* back James
a and Hisseyrl quarterbacks Scott Frost and Corby Jones and termer MU Coach A! Gnofrfo
Missouri benefits from loss
By Jay Saunders
Staff writer
It is not very often that one play can
affect both teams in a positive way.
But when Nebraska split end Matt
Davison caught a ball tipped by fellow
Cornhusker Shevin Wiggins for a
touchdown last season against
Missouri, that is exactly what happened.
For the Huskers, that play helped
defeat Missouri, and NU went on to win
a share of the national championship.
Even though Missouri lost that
game, the Tigers have reaped the bene
fits of a nail-biter against the No. 1 team
in the country.
“(The game) helped us, no ques
tion," MU Coach Larry Smith said.
"Any time you play Nebraska and do
well or beat them, you will gain a little
attention because they have had so
much success in the past."
The second-largest crowd in
Missouri history saw the game. A crowd
of 61,846 people packed into MU’s
Memorial Stadium.
In addition to the fans, a national
television audience on ABC watched
diligently during what w'as called
"Judgment Day."
The Davison touchdown then was
shown on highlight reels across the
country. In February, the play was
named the college football play of the
year at ESPN's "Espy Awards "
People were accustomed to seeing
Nebraska on sports highlights, but that
play put the Tigers on the football map.
"A lot of people said that play could
have helped us more than it helped
them,” Missouri offensive lineman
Todd Neimeyer said. "It gave us public
ity' and it probably helped us in recruit
According to this year’s Missouri
football guide, that game and that play
showed Missouri football was back
from the dead.
One year later, as MU prepares for a
rematch in Lincoln, Smith said he wish
es that play would die.
“A lot of people want to focus on
that one play,” Smith said. “I have been
coaching long enough to know those
things happen.
“You don't forget them, but you
can't dwell on them "
What Smith said the Tigers will be
dwelling on is how they played
Nebraska last season.
Quarterback Corby Jones threw for
a season-high 233 yards. And although
the running game only mustered 153
yards last year, the Tigers have found a
rushing weapon in senior Devin West.
“We know what we did last year,"
Smith said. “We lined up and blocked
and tackled and played our game."
There are not a lot of similarities
between this year's game and last year's
epic battle. The Tigers will be coming to
Lincoln, and Jones is not 100 percent.
“We have a big challenge in front of
us,” Neimeyer said. “I think (the play) is
something we put behind us. This year is
a new ballgame.”
This year is a new' ballgame, but
Smith said this is a new' Missouri team -
even if the Tigers didn't win one of the
best college football games of the sea
“Nobody walked out of that locker
room feeling we'd been run over,” Smith
said. “We knew we lost the game, but
we knew we weren't beaten.”
Gill’s concussion, 1978 upset part of NU-MU series
By Darren Ivy
Staff writer
Last year's miraculous touchdown catch by
Matt Davison to tie the ballgame at the end of
regulation is the freshest memory of the
Nebraska-Missouri series in most people’s
However, over the years the series has pro
duced many other great games and memories.
Former NU receiver Frosty Anderson
remembered Coach Tom Osborne’s first game
against Missouri in 1973.
The Comhuskers were ranked second in The
Associated Press polls, and Anderson was lead
ing the Big Eight Conference in receiving yards.
In the first quarter, Anderson was hit by All
American defensive back John Mosely and sep
arated his shoulder. He remembered watching
from the sidelines in the fourth quarter as NU
fumbled the ball on its own 6-yard line and a
Tiger defender picked it up and took it into the
end zone for a 13-6 lead.
The Huskers scored but Osborne didn't want
a tie.
“We went for 2 to win, but we failed,”
Anderson said. “Their fans were going crazy.”
Osborne went through three decades of MU
NU games.
“They were always physical, hard-hitting
games,” Osborne recalled. “You knew you better
have your chin straps fastened up when you
played them.”
Other than last year's game, the 1978 and
1981 games were Osborne's most memorable.
In 1978, the Huskers had just come off their
first win against Oklahoma in six years, when
Kellen Winslow, James Wilder and the rest of the
Tigers came into Lincoln and upset No. 2 NU
Current Linebackers Coach Craig Bohl, who
was an MU player at the time, missed that game
with a broken leg, but he remembered the disap
“It was a big emotional letdown,” Bohl said.
In addition to the mental anguish, the players
were physically beat up too, Bohl said.
“It was a
d r a g o u t
fight,” Bohl
said. "You
would go
into the trarn
ing room
Monday, and
it was a
MASH unit.
Those were the games our guys really enjoyed."
The 1981 game was Turner Gill’s second
start as a quarterback.
“They blitzed from every angle,” Osborne
said. “Turner got hit on about every play.”
Gill, now in his seventh year as a NU coach,
also remembered that 6-0 victory. The Huskers
won in the last 20 seconds of the game.
“It was my so-called first big test,” Gill said.
“I got knocked around all day, but I scored on our
last drive.”
The next year against the Tigers, Gill didn't
» * i 4 » i * t 1 (l> ' I ♦ « 1
(Missouri) blitzed from
every angle. Turner got hit
on about every’play.”
Tom Osborne
former NU coach
finish the first half. He was
carrying out a fake, when
Randy Jostes, a Ralston High
School graduate, popped him
under the chin, knocking him
Many Nebraska fans were
furious, calling it a blatant
cheap shot. Jostes’ parents
even received death threats.
Gill doesn’t hold any hard
“I wouldn't personally call it a cheap shot,”
Gill said.
The Huskers went on to win that game 23
Husker coaches and former players feel the
rivalry is back to the intensity it was during the
1970s and early 1980s.
“When I came back to the Big Eight after
some time away, we were beating Missouri hand
ily each year,” Bohl said. “Now you are seeing
Missouri, how Missouri really is. We are pre
pared for a 16-round donnybrook."
* ♦ *