You knew somebody was more interested in proving a point than anything else when, on third and 9 at the Nebraska 22 late in the first quarter, Brad Smith threw a flat pass to third-string tailback Beau Viehmann. The play lost 2 yards. MU may not score, but it will run any old play it chooses to run, no matter what anyone else thinks.
Play of the game
You knew all was lost when late in the third quarter Mizzou punter Matt Hoenes fumbled a perfectly fine snap, picked it up, ran to his right and then fell on his bum after whiffing the punt. Nebraska got ball at the Missouri 15. Cory Ross ran untouched up the middle for a TD and a 17-3 Huskers lead.
Reason to hope
None. Absolutely none. Kansas State, Missouri's next opponent, crushed Nebraska. Missouri couldn't even score a touchdown against the Cornhuskers. Looking for a rainbow? Look elsewhere.
Reason to mope
There is every reason to believe that the season, if it didn't end on Saturday, should have. Missouri's defense played well enough to win. Missouri's receivers played well enough to help win — particularly Thomson Omboga, with eight catches for 96 yards, and Sean Coffey with six for 66 yards. But Brad Smith didn't. The running backs didn't. The offensive line didn't. And the Mizzou coaching staff didn't.
Missouri hasn't scored a touchdown in the last six quarters. Smith has become a less-effective quarterback than Allen Webb, K-State's second-string quarterback. Quick, Gary Pinkel — apply for a medical redshirt for Tony Temple. The stage has been set, as the coach who doesn't update anything but season-ending medical problems took pains to mention, unbidden, that Temple ended the game with an Achilles strain.
Mizzou's defense gave up three points to the Cornhuskers before the Tigers' offense officially assured this loss. A blocked punt and a fumbled punt snap gave Nebraska 14 points. The Tigers' defense sacked Joe Dailey three times. He completed only four passes in 17 attempts.
Special teams: F
One blocked punt. One fumbled punt snap that led to a whiffed kick. There are 14 points handed to Nebraska. And Missouri's return game is now non-existent. Thank goodness for Joe Tantarelli's 39-yard field goal. Without that, this grade would have been an F. Oh, sorry. It's still an F.
Great. Pinkel is taking full responsibility for this third straight loss. He's not going to criticize one of his players. (Did you forget the rip job on Tantarelli at Texas, the “Brad called the wrong play” against Oklahoma State?) Actually, taking responsibility doesn't matter. Just fix it .
MISSOURI (4-4, 2-3)
at Iowa State
NEBRASKA (5-3, 3-2)
at Texas Tech
at Kansas State
at Iowa State
News and notes
Tony Temple's first appearance as a Tiger came with 6 minutes, 57 seconds left in the first quarter. He gained 1 yard, becoming the second true freshman to play for Missouri this year. The other is wideout William Franklin. … Kickoff man Adam Crossett was called on to try the first field goal of his Mizzou career. He missed from 44 yards, getting the distance but not the direction. … Nebraska and Missouri combined for 20 punts: Mizzou nine and Nebraska 11. That's the most since Nebraska and Oklahoma each punted 10 times in Nebraska's 20-10 victory on Oct. 27, 2001. … Brad Smith did set a record on Saturday. His 77 total offense attempts (21 runs and 56 passes) surpassed the 74 plays Louisiana Tech's Tim Rattay had against the Huskers on Aug. 29, 1998.