It should have been obvious early on that this Nebraska - Missouri game was going to be a wild one. If the buckets of rain coming down on Faurot Field didn't convince you, the power going out before game time should have helped. For a while it was unclear whether or not the game would actually be played, but then the power came back on, restoring faith in the proper order of things. Not all was right, though as a brand new scoreboard and the play clocks went unused.
For three quarters, a fired up Missouri team held the Huskers to zero points. If you were sane, you gave up and went to bed. There was little reason to believe that the Huskers could come back. Other than the defense holding Missouri to 12 points, nothing went right.
Punting was a nightmare. On Alex Henery's first punt, he fielded a bad snap, barely getting it off while getting blasted by linebacker Sean Weatherspoon and giving Missouri good field position. Henery had to handle another bad snap on the second punt and on the third punt he had no choice but to throw it out of the back of the end zone, giving the Tigers a safety while saving a touchdown. Punt returns were more of the same. One punt hit a Nebraska player, resulting in a turnover. Niles Paul and Rex Burkhead both had problems fielding the ball.
The offense was non-existent. Quarterback Zac Lee couldn't find his receivers, at one point going 6-for-18. When he did, they had a helluva time holding on to a slick ball. The ground game wasn't any better as Roy Helu was held in check, gaining only 15 yards in the first half.
Things didn't get any better after the start of the second half. On the second play, Zac Lee mishandled a bad snap which Missouri recovered and ultimately converted into a field goal to stretch their lead to 12-0.
With 4:01 left in the third quarter, Nebraska had 578 yards punting and 252 total offensive yards.
If you were crazy, you stuck around, probably more for the sake of being a faithful fan than anything else. Perhaps that faith aided the Husker offense. On the first play of the fourth quarter, Lee found Niles Paul for a 56-yard touchdown, cutting the lead to 12-7. Before that play, Lee had gone 11-for-29, for a paltry 81 yards. Paul and fellow starter Menelik Holt had played so poorly they were benched for a whle in favor of Antonio Bell and Brandon Kinnie.
On Missouri's next possession, Ndamukong Suh lept up and snagged Blaine Gabbert's first interception of the season. Two players later, Lee again found Paul, who made a leaping grab while covered by two defenders, for an 11-yard touchdown, putting the Huskers ahead for good.
Gabbert threw his second interception on the next possession, with Dejon Gomes returning it inside the Missouri 10-yard line. Two plays later, Lee hit Mike McNeill all alone in the end zone. In a 3:22 span, Nebraska had scored three touchdowns. Lee would finish 14-for-33 for 158 yards and three touchdowns, making those of us who wondered if were time for Cody Green to take over the offense feel a little bit foolish.
A late drive and touchdown run by Roy Helu would result in the final score of 27-12.
The play of the defensive line was incredible. Suh was a monster, consistently blowing up counters and trap plays, pressuring the quarterback and running down backs past the line of scrimmage. If it wasn't him, it was Jared Crick picking up a sack, or Barry Turner and Pierre Allen putting pressure on Gabbert.
I can't remember the last time I felt such a swing in emotion. From family-waking profanity to family-waking shouts of glee, as the Huskers won a game in Columbia for the first time since 2001 and broke a road losing streak to Top 25 teams dating back to 1997.
For three quarters, it looked like heart break. In the final quarter, faith was restored, thanks to a quarterback most wanted replaced and a defense playing with the passion that Husker fans were looking for.