COLUMBIA -- At 6:53 P.M., just over an hour before kickoff, the primetime spotlight shining on the Missouri Tigers went out.
For about 20 minutes.
A power outage knocked out the Memorial Stadium lights for a brief period before kickoff Thursday night, highlighting the volatile conditions that did their best to defuse the hype of the night.
But even the blackout wasn't enough to dim the spirits of the poncho-clad group of students who had made their way into the stadium.
The roar brought by the darkness was only matched by the one accompanying the Tigers' jog onto Faurot Field, which took on a rain-induced shine as the lights regained power.
Outside the stadium the student-entry gates featured lines typical of a normal game day as hundreds of students in gold rain gear had congregated two hours before game time.
But farther down Mick Deaver Drive, just behind the Hearnes Center, the lots that have become the epicenter of the Columbia tailgate scene symbolized the contrast between the night's pregame environment and the last time the Huskers made their way to Missouri.
The parking lot just south of Hearnes was nearly barren. A few cars dotted the spaces closest to the stadium while most of the lot was left empty.
The majority of the adjacent lot was blocked off by orange cones.
The day-long party that was the lead up to that October night in 2006 was nowhere to be found. A buzz that was inescapable was replaced by water-logged loafers, soggy socks, trash bags with arm holes, fans forced to sip beer in the cargo hold of semi-trucks and the noticeable absence of the smell of grilled bratwurst.
Nearly every group of tailgaters was huddled under a tent perched behind each car, and only a few like Rob Shaw from Troy, who played catch with his son, were willing to weather the sheets of rain.
Vince Knipp was among those tucked under the tent behind his truck, watching a replay of the MU-Nevada game on the flat screen TV in his trunk as he lamented the lack of atmosphere.
"It really put a damper on this whole thing," Knipp said.
When the lights came back on inside the stadium it seemed like the game time environment might suffer the same fate.
The edges of the student section were still bare. The stands on the west side were almost empty.
But with about 20 minutes before kickoff the cold gray of the stadium bleachers was replaced with a burst of gold. As the smoke poured out from underneath the south goal post, the power outage left the stadium without any music, allowing cries of "M-I-Z" and their standard reply to roar into a silent night.
Sometimes even Mother Nature's best shot isn't enough to dampen a rivalry.
A PRO FLAVOR: If the packed stadium wasn't enough to signify the start of conference play, the influx of NFL personnel certainly was. Eighteen teams were represented among the game's spectators including members of the Chiefs and Rams organization. The Thursday night kickoff even allowed Kansas City general manager Scott Pioli to be in attendance for his first MU game of the year, an opportunity he isn't normally afforded with typical Saturday game times.
MOVING BY BUS LOAD...LITERALLY: Nebraska fans are notorious for traveling well, and Thursday night wasn't an exception. The section of the stands reserved for opposing fans reached areas of the southwest corner of Memorial Stadium that were filled with gold in previous weeks. Husker fans even had charter buses full of fans being dropped off outside the stadium a few hours before kickoff.