LINCOLN, Neb.- Chase Daniel knew what he was walking in to Saturday night.
The "Sea of Red." A defensive mastermind across the sidelines. The endless reminders of the Tigers' 30-year drought. The personal demons left behind from one of the worst performances of his career on Nebraska's field two years ago.
Known for his weekly routine of rigorous film study and preparation, none of Daniel's groundwork readied him for what he encountered during warmups Saturday night.
"Walking out before pregame, I got spit on," Daniel said, adding that a Nebraska player was the culprit. "I'm not going to say who it was. He knows who it is, and I think that's bush league. I've never done that before, that's just blatant disrespect."
An Associated Press report released Sunday afternoon quoted Nebraska coach Bo Pelini as saying if Daniel's accusation were true, it would be "unacceptable," but that he found nothing dirty after watching the tape of Saturday's game. The report also said Pelini tried to reach Missouri coach Gary Pinkel to discuss the accusation.
Sunday evening, Missouri media relations spokesman Chad Moller said he couldn't confirm if the two had made contact.
"I don't know anything," Moller said. "If they have spoken, I don't imagine the details of that conversation would be anything but private. If something does come from it, and he wants to make a statement, we'll have a release."
Daniel called Nebraska "one of the dirtiest team's he'd ever played," but he wasn't the only one angry after the Tigers' 52-17 victory. Junior defensive lineman Jaron Baston called Nebraska "by far" the dirtiest team he'd ever suited up against.
"It's always going to be an on-field battle, they're going to cheap shot you, you're going to talk trash, that's just part of the game," Baston said. "They do a lot of things that I've never had done to me. I know on one play I got knocked down, and I got back up, but one of their guys just jumped on my back and laid on me while the play was way down field."
But even with on-field antics keeping emotions running high, the Tigers unleashed their most dominating performance of the season in the most intimidating of atmospheres.
With Nebraska's defensive coaches bragging about their gameplan earlier in the week, and analysts lambasting the defense hours before kickoff, the Tigers used Saturday to not only silence the 85,000 Husker fans in attendance, but also their critics.
"We heard everything that was being said. If you looked in our eyes in that hotel, (Saturday morning) we were upset, we were furious," Baston said. "Chase Daniel saw it and came up to us, telling us what Lee Corso said (about the defense) and all of that. As a competitor, that gets to you, and we all just came out and said, ‘We got to dominate.'"
Derrick Washington, who finished the game with 139 yards on 14 carries, said he was offended that Nebraska chose the Tigers for its homecoming game.
"In high school, you want to schedule the worst teams (on homecoming) and you want to try and get that victory," Washington said. "That just added a little fuel to us. We came out on their homecoming, broke the streak, and everything worked out perfectly."
Once the last second ticked off the clock, the Tigers gave the Missouri fans who made the trek to Lincoln an unforgettable scene.
Senior tight end Chase Coffman made the triumphant march towards the sole spot in Memorial Stadium still making noise. On one side, a pocket of a few thousand black-and-gold clad fans, most of whom weren't alive the last time the Tigers toted the Missouri-Nebraska Bell back to Columbia from Lincoln, couldn't contain themselves. Coffman reached the fans, hoisting the bell as his teammates followed behind him, bathing in the delirious screams that drowned out the pep band which was blaring the Tigers' fight song. The players' attempts to sing in time with the band were a failure easily excused by the ecstatic Missouri fans, fresh off three hours filled with enough successes to perhaps last them another 30 years.
By the time defensive lineman Ziggy Hood got a chance to show off the rivalry hardware, recently topped by a black Missouri helmet, Memorial Stadium had nearly emptied, a picturesque moment that few fans thought would ever come. The Tigers, 35-point victors in Lincoln, exorcising the demons of a run that, even a decade ago, looked like it might never end.
We always want to dominate," sophomore receiver Jeremy Maclin said. "Always, no matter who we're playing."