About an hour before game time, Faurot Field was doused in darkness as the power went out in and around the stadium.
The power outage was a campus-wide event. All the lights around the stadium were out, and the new video scoreboard at Faurot Field was out the entire game, as was the public address system.
The lights came on about 45 minutes before kickoff, but someone forgot to flip on the switch for the Missouri offense.
For three quarters, the defense was electrifying and shut down Nebraska. But in the fourth quarter, 27 unanswered Husker points shut off the light on the Tigers as they fell to their Big 12 North rival 27-12.
“I’m shocked," senior nose tackle Jaron Baston said. "I can’t believe that just happened. You don’t expect that to happen. You don’t expect that they’re going to score four touchdowns in one quarter.”
The fourth quarter proved costly to the Tigers. When the quarter started, Missouri held a 12-0 lead. Three minutes and 22 seconds later, they found themselves in a 20-12 hole.
The rally started when Nebraska junior quarterback Zac Lee connected with junior wide receiver Niles Paul on a 56-yard touchdown. On Missouri’s ensuing drive, sophomore quarterback Blaine Gabbert threw the first interception of his collegiate career, giving the Huskers the ball on Missouri’s 18-yard line.
On the first play of their drive, Lee found Paul again for another score and gave Nebraska their first lead of the night, 13-12, after the two-point conversion failed.
But the troubles continued for Gabbert and the Tigers. Nebraska picked off his first pass and returned it to the Missouri 10-yard line.
Lee threw his third touchdown, this time to junior tight end Mike McNeill, giving the Huskers a 20-12 lead. Nebraska would add another score late in the quarter on a run by senior running back Roy Helu Jr.
In his first 177 pass attempts, Gabbert never threw an interception. On Thursday, he was picked off twice in two attempts in the fourth quarter.
“My two turnovers were huge key plays that gave (Nebraska) 14 points, so that can’t happen,” Gabbert said. “The game came down to capitalizing on field position, and tonight we didn’t really do that, and it boils down to me.”
After having one of his best passing performances against Nevada two weeks ago, Gabbert had one of his worst on Thursday. He completed just 17 of 43 passes for 134 yards and two interceptions.
The offense as a whole failed to generate many big plays. Junior running back Derrick Washington ran 20 times for 80 yards, and, as a team, the Tigers managed just 118 yards on 35 rushes.
“We’ve got to get the running game started to open things up for Blaine and the passing game,” Washington said. “We’ve kind of got it going a little bit, but we didn’t establish it much, and that’s something we need to take care of.”
The team as a whole sees plenty of room to improve between now and next Saturday when they take on Oklahoma State.
“I have to coach better, and every player could have made a better play out there,” coach Gary Pinkel said. “We take this all into account, it’s part of what we do, and we’ll work together and try to get this fixed. But obviously we’re very disappointed.”