LINCOLN, Neb. — It was 30 years ago, but some Nebraska diehards have not forgotten the last time Missouri won in Lincoln. Even though they said they wish they could.
“We had them beat right to the end,” Ron Strong said, remembering the 1978 game he watched with his wife Shirley from the south end zone. “We had the game clinched, but the quarterback did a beautiful job hiding the ball, and they (Missouri) snuck in there.”
Jim Loftus said he thought the game would be easy after Nebraska scored on its first drive.
“Turned out it wasn’t,” he said. “It was a cold, bad night.”
Loftus said Nebraska, which was ranked No. 2, looked flat coming off a win over Oklahoma the week before.
“Missouri was pumped,” Loftus said, recalling how MU tailback James Wilder scored with only minutes left in the game.
“He doesn’t know where he parked the car,” Dotti Loftus said about her husband. “But he remembers everything about football.”
“I wish I didn’t remember that one,” Jim Loftus said of the game.
Strong said, as crushing as the 1978 loss was, at least the Huskers held the Tigers off at home since then.
“We’ve taken them over,” he said.
But Loftus said he was not sure the streak would last.
“Missouri looks too good,” he said before the game.
NEBRASKA NICE TO MAMA DANIEL: Chase Daniel’s mom Vickie Daniel didn’t have any trouble with Nebraska fans as she mingled with Tiger and Husker supporters before the game.
“You have a very talented son,” one college-aged man said as he passed the quarterback’s mom.
Another Husker fan happily introduced her young son to Vickie Daniel and wished her luck.
Although a nearby crowd chanted Missouri was “overrated,” Vickie Daniel found everyone pleasant one on one.
“Yeah, what’s that about?” Vickie Daniel said about the chanting. “No, they’ve all been good.”
BO KNOWS: If T-shirts are any indication, Nebraska fans are happy about new head coach Bo Pelini.
Husker supporters wore shirts bearing slogans like, “Bo Big Red” and “BOwl BOund,” playing on the name of the former LSU defensive coordinator who replaced Bill Callahan this year. Pelini had a one-year stint as defensive coordinator for the Huskers in 2003.
In response, one young girl sported a shirt reading, “My Bo-friend’s back...And you’re gonna be in trouble.”
The most common shirts offered, “Bo Knows Football,” “Bo Knows Nebraska” or simply, “Bo Knows.”
What does Bo know best?
“Everything,” one fan said.
5,000 RED BALLOONS: Nebraska’s marketing department passed out 5,000 red balloons to fans at the Husker Nation Pavilion, an indoor practice field, before the game. Nebraska puts on a free event every home game for people seeking a pregame alternative to tailgating or another outdoor viewing venue.
“You can still have the Husker experience, even without a ticket,” said Trisha Dowse, a Nebraska senior marketing student.
With a large television screen and the loud stadium nearby, Dowse said the Pavilion is a good option for fans, especially for families because kids can play on the turf or the several bounce houses.
“It’s really fun,” Dowse said. “Until the snow comes.”
Before the game, members of the New Covenant Community Church painted kids’ faces and sprayed their hair red and white, while a family band covered songs like “Walking on Sunshine.”
Dowse said current or former Nebraska athletes sign autographs at the Pavilion each home game. This week the women’s gymnastics team showed up for fans. The women also helped distribute those red balloons.
Head gymnastics coach Dan Kendig looked on as the team carried bunches of more than a dozen helium-filled balloons.
“Yeah, I hope they don’t blow away,” he said — referring to the gymnasts, not the balloons.
Most of the balloons were released after Nebraska’s touchdown in the first quarter.