LINCOLN, Neb. — Saturday's game in Lincoln pitted the top two teams in the Big 12's North Division against each other with the winner essentially wrapping up first place. With a 34-20 loss, Missouri football fans can probably wave goodbye to the Big 12 championship game.
MU's first half was arguably its worst half all season, but the team managed to fight back in the second half. Turnovers once again hurt the Tigers though, as Nebraska scored 14 points off three MU turnovers.
"We just made mistakes and obviously weren't consistent enough against a good football team to win," coach Gary Pinkel said.
The Tigers picked up where they left off against Oklahoma, struggling to move the ball or stop the Cornhuskers. In the first quarter the Tigers' 26 total yards compared to 136 for Nebraska.
Last week MU abandoned the run, but this week they stuck with it. Running back Tony Temple rushed for 99 yards on 18 carries and made the offense less one dimension.
"I just focused this week," Temple said. "I didn't turn my phone on. I didn't even talk to my own mom and dad. I just wanted to go out there because I know what I can do."
The passing game had been MU's weapon of choice all year, but quarterback Chase Daniel struggled in the first half, going 8-18 for 113 yards and two interceptions. He finished 20-38 for 244 yards with two interceptions and two touchdowns.
"We just wanted to keep [Daniel] moving his feet and not allow him to settle in and set his feet and make decisions," Nebraska coach Bill Callahan said.
Nebraska jumped out to an early lead on a Jordan Congdon 40-yard field goal and a reverse pass from receiver Maurice Purify to Terrence Nunn.
On the next series, Will Franklin could not hold onto Daniel's pass, and Adam Carriker intercepted the ball at the Tigers' 22-yard line. Nebraska quarterback Zac Taylor hit Purify with a 7-yard touchdown.
After a Jeff Wolfert 26-yard field goal, Bo Ruud intercepted Daniel's pass and returned it to the MU 17-yard line. Taylor hit tight end Hunter Teafatiller for a 17-yard touchdown. Congdon added another field goal from 33 yards out with 1:18 left in the half.
The Tigers moved the ball to the Nebraska 36-yard line with six seconds left, and Wolfert hit a 54-yard field goal, a career long.
"I hit the ball clean, but I didn't hit it real solid," Wolfert said. "I couldn't tell how close it was, and it took the refs a little bit of time to put the sign up."
Nebraska turned the ball over on downs to start the second half, giving MU possession at its own 38-yard line, and MU scored on a 6-yard pass from Daniel to Martin Rucker.
Nebraska answered with Brandon Jackson's 2-yard touchdown run, putting Nebraska up by three touchdowns. Jackson finished with 182 total yards on 121 rushing and 61 receiving.
With eight minutes left in the game and facing fourth and 16, Daniel found Chase Coffman in the end zone for a 19-yard touchdown pass and gave MU some hope of a comeback.
MU had two more possessions but couldn't trim the lead, turning the ball over on downs and fumbling.
With the loss, the Tigers are one game behind Nebraska in the North Division with two games left. The only way MU can make it to the championship game is if Nebraska loses its last two games and MU wins its last two.