COLUMBIA, Mo. — The Faurot Field goalposts tumbled so fast that some slow-moving Missouri fans weren't able to take part in the destruction.
Moments before, Nebraska's collapse was nearly as quick and harsh.
The Tigers scratched a 24-year itch by dismantling the Huskers with a 27-point fourth quarter Saturday night. With Missouri's 41-24 win complete, Nebraska players with jaws dropped risked having them stepped on by a stampede of Mizzou fans.
"It felt great," said Missouri receiver Darius Outlaw. "I've been waiting for a long time for those fans to rush out there, tear down the goalposts and take them to Harpo's. It's been a long time."
The Tigers hadn't ended up on the winning side of the scoreboard against Nebraska since 1978. Hadn't done it at Faurot Field since 1973.
No wonder, then, that flashbulbs kept going off nearly 10 minutes after the final seconds ticked away. No wonder that all that was remaining of the goalposts was a four-foot stump in the south end zone.
"You couldn't really step back and see," said tight end J.D. McCoy. "There were people everywhere, slapping you and stuff. I probably got hit harder there than a few times in the game."
The Huskers did their best to escape the pandemonium, but reality followed them to the visiting locker room.
No more unbeaten record. No more Top 10 rating. No hold on the Big 12 North Division lead that was available after Kansas' loss at Colorado earlier in the day.
"They won, man," muttered NU senior Patrick Kabongo. "What are you going to say?"
A four-minute stretch opening the fourth quarter changed a game that Nos. 7 and 10 Nebraska (5-1, 1-1 Big 12) had led by 10 points. The next 11 minutes accelerated it from painful to almost embarrassing before a sellout crowd of 68,349.
"Bottom line," NU Head Coach Frank Solich said, "is we all shared in this one."
That was an accurate statement after a 24-14 advantage turned into a 28-24 deficit with mistakes, in order, by the NU defense, offense and special teams.
Sophomore quarterback Brad Smith used his Tigerlike agility to run for a 39-yard touchdown on the first play of the fourth quarter. Smith tallied 303 total yards after being shut down in last season's 24-13 loss in Lincoln.
On the Huskers' next series, two short gains sandwiched around a penalty set up a third-and-11 play from their 42-yard line. Quarterback Jammal Lord, trying to evade the Missouri rush, fumbled on a sack by James Kinney, and Dedrick Harrington returned the loose ball to the NU 9.
After getting pushed back to a fourth-and-goal from the 15, Missouri (5-1, 1-1) sprung a fake field goal to go ahead.
Holder Santino Riccio rolled to his right after taking the snap. The backup quarterback then lofted a touchdown pass to Victor Sesay, just over the fingertips of linebacker T.J. Hollowell.
"They certainly swung the momentum around in the fourth quarter," Solich said. "But there was more than that play that did it."
Both Solich and Assistant Coach Scott Downing said the Huskers weren't surprised by the call. Missouri just executed it well.
"It was something we thought might be a possibility in that situation," Downing said. "They just made the play and we didn't."
Smith added two more fourth-quarter touchdown runs against an NU defense that had allowed a total of seven second-half points all season. In between, Lord was intercepted by Zach Ville.
Through three quarters, Nebraska had logged 437 yards behind the play of Lord (146 yards passing, 111 rushing) and I-back David Horne (119 rushing). But the Huskers had negative yardage in the fourth.
"It was a disaster," said Lord, who accepted blame after Solich stressed that he shouldn't. "You can't put it in other words."
Touchdown runs by Horne and Lord in the third quarter had given Nebraska some cushion. But the mistakes kept adding up for a team that muffed two kicks, lost two other fumbles, threw an interception and kept pushing itself backwards with eight offensive penalties.
Missouri, just two weeks removed from a painful loss to Kansas, gained reason to believe with each NU mistake. Even when history said don't bother.
"There was no lack of confidence," McCoy said. "That's how teams in the past have gotten beat, and I've been part of three of those teams — where we play with them and play with them, and then we let them go.
"This was our year. We decided nothing was going to stop us. What a great fourth quarter we had."
Nebraska, meanwhile, paraded players out of its locker room who repeatedly talked about how they didn't play four quarters. Free safety Josh Bullocks said it a half-dozen times in a three-minute interview.
Nebraska's defense, the one constant this season, allowed a season-high 452 total yards.
Solich called the five turnovers ridiculous. Said NU had way too many penalties. Admitted that the Huskers lost their poise.
Maybe they even celebrated a bit too early. Offensive Coordinator Barney Cotton tore a calf muscle getting excited over the touchdown that pushed the Huskers ahead 24-14.
Then Missouri, for the first time in a quarter-century, got the last laugh.
"I was going to keep my jersey on," McCoy said. "I was trying to. But they made me take it off."
|Yards per carry||4.8||4.7|
Nebraska is 65-36 all-time against Missouri.
|Oklahoma State||Aug. 30|
|Utah State||Sept. 6|
|Penn State||Sept. 13|
|Southern Miss||Sept. 25|
|Troy (formerly Troy State)||Oct. 4|
|Texas A&M||Oct. 18|
|Iowa State||Oct. 25|
|Kansas State||Nov. 15|
|Michigan State||Dec. 29|
Nebraska has played 17 games on Oct. 11. See them all »
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