MU seeks rare win today at Nebraska

Saturday, November 4, 2006

LINCOLN, Neb. -- Missouri looks to get its season back on track at a place where it hasn't won since 1978.

The Tigers visit Nebraska today, with the winner earning sole possession of first place in the Big 12 North.

Missouri (7-2, 3-2) opened with six straight wins but has lost two of its last three, including last week's mistake-filled 26-10 defeat to Oklahoma. The loss knocked the Tigers out of the Top 25.

Nebraska (6-3, 3-2) also fell out of the rankings with a 41-29 loss at Oklahoma State.

Tigers coach Gary Pinkel said his team must be sharper to beat Nebraska in the 100th meeting of the teams. Oklahoma scored all of its points against the Tigers after turnovers, drive-extending penalties and a safety on a blocked punt.

"The key is that you've got to be able to execute, and if you have some adversity you have to be able to fight through it," Pinkel said. "We gave ourselves more [adversity] than you want in any one game, or any three games. Hopefully, we still have a confidence level."

Missouri has won two of the last three games with Nebraska, but the Huskers have won 14 straight in Lincoln.

Both teams are banged up. Pinkel will start Earl Goldsmith at tailback in place of Tony Temple, who has a slight shoulder dislocation. Another reason for Temple's absence from the starting lineup, Pinkel said, is his recent fumbling problems.

Receiver Brad Ekwerekwu has a mild knee sprain but is probable, and strong safety William Moore is expected to play after suffering a mild concussion.

Nebraska linebackers Corey McKeon (knee and ankle) and Steve Octavien (hamstring and ankle) missed practice time this week but should play. Offensive lineman Greg Austin is out with a knee injury.

Missouri quarterback Chase Daniel comes into the game off an up-and-down performance against Oklahoma. He amassed a career-high 359 yards of total offense, accounting for all but 1 yard of the Tigers' total offense. He passed for 284 yards and ran a career-high 20 times for 75 yards and a touchdown.

But Daniel threw a career-high three interceptions, including two in the final 4 minutes as the Tigers were trying to come back.

Daniel said he hopes the offense is more spread out this week.

"I don't think you put that much stress and physical stuff on a quarterback like that. But whatever they ask me to do, I'll be happy to do it. You know I'm a gamer," he said. "But, obviously, we want to get our running backs involved. With the types of running backs we have, we're definitely going to be focusing on that this week."

The Huskers also may be looking to run against a Missouri defense that is giving up 186.8 yards on the ground to Big 12 opponents.

Pinkel said the Tigers' front seven have to shore up the run defense. He said a wide array of problems have occurred defensively, from running backs escaping containment to his own players not being physical enough.

"There's nothing magical there," he said. "We're not going to change schemes or anything. We believe in what were doing."

Pinkel said another key will be pressuring Nebraska quarterback Zac Taylor, who was sacked five times by Oklahoma State and 20 times for the season.

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