Osborne anxious for return to option attack

(c) Copyright the News & Observer Publishing Co. and The Associated Press, 1994

COLUMBIA, Mo. (AP) -- Nebraska beat Missouri by 35 points, and coach Tom Osborne seemed to hate every minute of it.

The past two weeks, Osborne's top objective was to protect quarterback Brook Berringer's fragile lungs from taking hits. After the third-ranked Cornhuskers' 42-7 Big Eight victory Saturday, he said he's a little tired of going without his beloved option attack.

"This is more like a pro offense, and I never have liked professional football because I feel like you're fighting with one hand tied behind your back," Osborne said. "You're standing there without any options.

"That's what the pro people do every day and that's what we've done the last two weeks. Basically, we've stood there like a pro team."

Basically, he's had no choice.

Berringer sat out the first half of last week's victory over Kansas State with a partially collapsed lung and had to wear a flak jacket in the second half to avoid further injury.

Against Missouri, Osborne restricted Berringer to another day of basic football, highlighted by handoffs and a few rollout runs. But Berringer also completed 9-of-13 passes for 153 yards and three second-half touchdowns.

All of Berringer's second-half completions went for touchdowns, two of them long passes.

"We've got a heck of a passing game," Berringer said. "Sometimes we don't get to it as much as we'd like. They gave us opportunities and we took them."

Berringer also ran for 23 yards on five carries, and wasn't sacked. He said he'd be at 100 percent for the game against No. 2 Colorado Saturday.

"I didn't want to take any unnecessary hits," Berringer said. "If I had a chance to get out of bounds, that's what I had in mind. I came out of it all right."

That's good news for Osborne, because backup quarterback Matt Turman sprained his right shoulder running the option in the fourth quarter. Third-stringer Monte Christo, a freshman who wasn't listed on the game-day roster, had to finish the game.

"I didn't want to do it very bad, but I didn't want to play Berringer anymore either," Osborne said.

Lawrence Phillips rushed for 110 yards on 22 carries and a touchdown, and his backup, Damon Benning, scored twice.

That was more than enough cushion for Nebraska's defense, which has allowed 16 points the past three weeks. Defensive back Barron Miles ended a Missouri scoring chance when he forced Joe Freeman to fumble into the end zone from the 1 and returned an interception 27 yards to set up a Nebraska score. Nebraska also sacked Jeff Handy three times.

Missouri averted a shutout when Handy completed a 34-yard touchdown pass to Rahsetnu Jenkins with 7:34 to play.

Handy's first seven completions went to Jenkins, who finished with eight catches for 90 yards. In the first six games, Jenkins caught 15 passes.

Missouri coach Larry Smith wasn't happy about most of the rest of his team's play. After the game, Smith could be heard screaming at his players behind closed doors, and he told reporters that his team gave up.

"I'm irked, I'm angry," Smith said. "When you've got a whole quarter to play, anything can happen. And I think some people thought the game was over.

"We can't play like we did in the third and fourth quarters. We've got to play our butts off."

Nebraska has a 16-game winning streak against Missouri and the last six meetings have been by a cumulative 307-72 score. The Cornhuskers also have won 21 in a row during the regular season, the longest streak in the NCAA, and 12 in a row in the Big Eight.

Missouri hasn't beaten Nebraska at Faurot Field since 1973.