Ah, nothing like a victory over a ranked team to get those feel-good emotions going well. It was a dominating performance by the Huskers, who came out of the tunnel motivated and ready to play. Add in some classic Gary Pinkel playcalling, and the stage was set for a big first quarter. Pinkel seems to subscribe to Bill Callahan's "We take what we want" metaphor. One week after gashing the Oklahoma Sooners with a inside running game, Pinkel elected to take on the 75th-against-the-run Blackshirts with no-back, five receiver formations to start the game.
End of the first quarter: Nebraska 24, Missouri 0. Whoops. Score one for the Pinkel Factor.
Hard to say whether a different offensive game plan would have made much difference today. Certainly, the Tigers didn't have an answer for Roy Helu today, who' was named the Walter Camp national offensive player of the week for his performance against the Tigers. That's two in a row for the Huskers, as Taylor Martinez won the same award last week.
So now comes the grading, and boy, is this a lot more enjoyable to do this week after a big win. As always, your comments and feedback are always encouraged.QB: Taylor Martinez showed some of the same touch he displayed last week, especially on that 40 yard touchdown pass to Kyler Reed. Martinez does need to work on his pocket protection; he could learn a trick or two from Blaine Gabbert about throwing the ball out of bounds once he's out of the pocket and is facing a sack. Grade: B
RB: 307 yards rushing for Roy Helu. Helu's three touchdowns were impressively blocked, but what struck me the most on the replays was how Helu literally ran past the Missouri secondary like they were defensive linemen. Add in some tough running in the fourth quarter to seal the victory, and you've got an A+ performance.
WR: They weren't asked to do much in the passing game, but they made the catches this week. Most importantly, they helped plow the field for Helu's big runs. So I'll give them an A.
OL: It all starts up front, and these guys created huge holes for Helu. ESPN highlighted their work that helped spring Helu on his 73 yard touchdown run near the end of the first quarter. Grade: A+
DL: The front four manhandled the Missouri offensive line, just like last year, and sent Blaine Gabbert running for cover. You don't think that Gabbert isn't secretly glad that the Huskers are leaving for the Big Ten after this season? Grade: A+
Secondary: What can you say about this group? They locked down on the Missouri receivers, and didn't give them much of an opportunity to catch the ball. True freshman Ciante Evans came in early on after Alfonzo Dennard suffered a concussion, and played like a veteran. Courtney Osborne and Austin Cassidy played well as well in their first significant playing time. All in all, a solid A.
Overall: A solid victory against an conference opponent getting national recognition. Highlight reel plays, and a nice bump in the rankings. That earns the Huskers an A in my book.
Elsewhere in College Football
Texas: F We've been there ourselves and watched the wheels fall off a season (2007). There is an underlying soap opera that's going to take place at the end of the season, in all likelihood.
Baylor: A The Dr. Pepper was flowing free in Waco last night.
Iowa: A Nice comeback for the Squawkeyes after a tough loss at home the week before.
Texas A&M: B Also a nice turnaround after making a quarterback change.
Iowa State: B- What does it say about the state of things when the Cyclones aren't happy with the size of their halftime lead against Kansas?
Elsewhere Around Memorial Stadium
Dairy Store Ice Cream: A- I had never tried it before, but as I had gotten to the stadium early to deliver tickets to Jon, I had some extra time to kill. And since the afternoon was warmer than expected, all of a sudden I was reminded that I had been meaning to try the Dairy Store based on recommendations from our "Best of Nebraska" series. So I wandered over through the student section and into the East Stadium and picked up some chocolate. Very good ice cream. They really should sell this at all the concession stands.
Costumes: B+ With it being Halloween weekend, some people decided to dress up for the game. Most of them weren't very creative, but the guys dressed up as Pooh and Tigger caught my eye. They had to be sweltering in the first half. Afterwards, I caught them leaving the stadium with their girlfriends, who weren't in costume. I have to believe that those two guys lost a bet.