COLUMBIA — Missouri's defense appreciates the sentiment. After Nebraska's loss to Virginia Tech on Saturday, NU tailback Marlon Lucky told the Omaha World-Herald, "Missouri . . . they need to watch out, because we've got a lot of anger right now."
His anger might have been misdirected. By Monday afternoon, Missouri defensive personnel were well aware of Lucky's comment. Players approached it in different ways as they continued preparations for Missouri's Big 12 Conference opener Saturday night at Nebraska. Some let it die. Others will use it as motivation. But there was a consensus: Lucky's sharp words cut across the border.
"You can't get caught up in the bulletin board material, but we appreciate the bulletin board material," linebacker Sean Weatherspoon said, grinning. "It gives us a little more confidence. It gives us an edge, because we know guys are out there talking smack about us, and we just want to show guys what we can do.
"If we go out there and take care of business as a defensive front and take care of the line of scrimmage, then we'll be able to talk it up a little bit."
Missouri will attempt to slow Nebraska's offense for the second consecutive year. Last year in MU's 41-6 victory over Nebraska, the Tigers held the Cornhuskers to 297 total yards (compared to Missouri's 606). Nebraska managed 74 yards rushing, led by Lucky's 67. Nebraska quarterback Sam Keller threw for 223 yards on 25-of-43 passing with one interception.
This year, quarterback Joe Ganz leads the Cornhuskers' offensive threat. Nebraska ranks No. 33 in total offense, averaging 421 yards per game. Through four games, Ganz has thrown for 997 yards and seven touchdowns. Lucky paces Nebraska's running backs with 186 yards on 42 carries.
"You just have to shrug them off," linebacker Brock Christopher said of Lucky's comments. "We try not to make comments like that.
"You can use them for fuel if you want. I do."
Said defensive coordinator Matt Eberflus: "Obviously, players are going to read those things, but we're just going to focus on what we do.
"You coach them up. You tell them to always be positive to those you play with and you play against. That's what we teach (our players). We had a meeting about that. Hopefully, they listened to us."
They listened to Lucky, and pleasantries might be exchanged come Saturday.
"Somebody might say a little something to him about it," cornerback Carl Gettis said, smiling.
MU-OSU ON ESPN OR ESPN2: Missouri's game against Oklahoma State on Oct. 11 was selected for an ESPN or ESPN2 broadcast at 7 p.m., the Big 12 Conference announced Monday. It will mark Missouri's third appearance on ESPN's family of networks. MU's season-opening victory against Illinois and the Nebraska game were chosen for ESPN broadcasts.
GABBERT BACK IN LINCOLN: Reserve quarterback Blaine Gabbert will return to the site of the school he was formerly committed to. Gabbert, who is a former Ballwin Parkway West standout, committed to Nebraska in spring 2007 before signing with MU last February. He began to reconsider his options when the future of former Nebraska coach Bill Callahan became doubtful. Callahan was fired last November, one year removed from winning a Big 12 North championship.
"I can't focus on what happens on the outside of the football field," Gabbert said.
"It'll be fun. You can't worry about that other stuff. ... You just have to let all that other stuff just drift away."
DANIEL TALKS TO DEFEATED QBs: Quarterback Chase Daniel consoled USC quarterback Mark Sanchez and Georgia quarterback Matt Stafford after both experienced losses this past weekend. No. 1 USC lost to Oregon State, 27-21, on Thursday. On Saturday night, No. 3 Georgia fell to Alabama, 41-30. Daniel considers both friends and said lessons in leadership could be gained from their defeats.
"You sort of pull from what they did," Daniel said. "I talked to Mark Friday night. I talked to Matt Stafford yesterday and just asked them, ‘How does it feel? And they said, ‘It's just the worst feeling in the world. We don't want to feel this way ever again. Don't let your team do it.' And so I can promise you, I'm not going to let our team have a letdown.
"I don't like to see quarterbacks I know lose at all. ... You don't root against the quarterbacks. You might root against the teams. Me, personally, I don't go out there hoping Mark is going to have a horrible game and lose ... or Stafford is going to have a horrible game."
KU IS ONLY RIVAL: Missouri coach Gary Pinkel doesn't consider Nebraska a rivalry game. When asked if the Huskers have become the Tigers' second-biggest rival, Pinkel was quick to downplay the notion.
"We have one rival game, and that's Kansas, and all the rest are big games," Pinkel said.
"To classify, we have one rival game, and that's Kansas. All the rest, obviously, are very important."