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September 22, 2008

Eye on Nebraska

He knew he was going to hear the statistic countless times over the next 14 days. So Chase Daniel figured he would intercept the media at the pass after Saturday's 42-21 win over Buffalo. The attention had already turned to the Tigers' date with Nebraska in two weeks.

"Obviously, we haven't won there in 30 years," Daniel said.

Got that out of the way. Yes, Missouri's last win in Lincoln came in 1978. That was a team led by Phil Bradley, Kellen Winslow and James Wilder. Mizzou took the game 35-31 over the second-ranked Cornhuskers. Since that day, Mizzou has dropped 15 straight games in Lincoln by an average of 26 points. However, only one of those really matters to this group of Tigers.

"We got embarrassed my sophomore year when we went up there," Daniel said. "We didn't play well, turned the ball over."

The Tigers got beat 34-20 in Lincoln by a Nebraska team that would go on to win the Big 12 North championship. It is the only game in Lincoln that any current Tiger has played in…and many of this year's biggest weapons weren't even part of that game.

"It's a new year," Jeremy Maclin said. "None of the history matters."

What will matter more is the Tigers correcting the litany of mistakes they made in the win over Buffalo. Missouri fumbled the ball away three times, gave up a touchdown on a kickoff return and committed a costly special teams penalty. After the game, Gary Pinkel called it a "comedy of errors."

"Those things will get fixed right now," the coach said. "We don't need two weeks to fix those things. You do those kind of things in a game, you're in trouble."

The Tigers did not pay for those miscues against Buffalo. However, they do not expect the Huskers to be quite so accommodating.

"It's gonna be a whole new level of competition," said senior defensive tackle Ziggy Hood. "Right now they're looking good."

"It's going to be a lot faster than the three different foes we faced previous," Daniel said.

Is this the bunch of Tigers that finally has enough firepower to get the job done in Lincoln and end three decades of frustration? It wouldn't be the first barrier this group has broken down. Last season, Missouri got its first win at Colorado in a decade and followed that up with the Tigers' first victory at Kansas State since 1989.

"I can give you a list of things our players have had to overcome since we got here," Pinkel said. "It's a long list. Our players are very well aware of it. They know they're going to get the best shot at Nebraska. Then again, it's still about us. How are we going to play?"

If they play well, the Tigers think this just might be the season they can end that 30-year drought.

Said Hood: "It's gonna feel real good if we have a chance to do that."

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