COLUMBIA, Mo. (AP) -- Minutes after Missouri completed an unbeaten preseason with a far from perfect victory over Buffalo, players and coaches were pondering the upcoming challenge.
After a week off the Tigers open Big 12 Conference play on Oct. 4 at Nebraska, where they haven't won in 30 years. The run of 15 consecutive losses in Lincoln, Neb., is a reminder of the bad old days, not so long ago, when Missouri was a doormat for the conference powers.
Even though Missouri has won three of the last five overall against the Huskers, ending an overall 25-game losing streak in 2003, and the Tigers were the preseason media pick to win the Big 12 North while Nebraska was picked for third, the Huskers' Lincoln dominance has survived. There have been four coaching chances since a 35-31 victory in 1978 propelled Missouri to the Liberty Bowl under Warren Powers.
"They're definitely on our mind," quarterback Chase Daniel said after Saturday's mistake-filled 42-21 victory. "We got embarrassed there my sophomore year.
"When you're in front of 95,000 screaming fans, the sea of red as they call it, it's going to be an adverse situation. We'll be better prepared this time."
Nebraska leads the series 63-35-3, including a 34-20 victory in the last home game in 2006. A handful of the victories in the streak are severe whippings, notably a five-game stretch from 1990-96 in which the average score was 57-8.
The extra time gives Missouri players a chance to rest, even though they were hardly winded while breezing through most of the non-conference schedule, plus extra preparation time. Meetings and walkthroughs are planned later this week with a pair of bonus practices Saturday and Sunday while Nebraska (3-0) plays at Virginia Tech after taking last week off.
Coach Gary Pinkel said it's just another step up the ladder for the program, which won its first Big 12 North title last year and played in its first January 1 bowl game since 1970. In the 17 seasons before Pinkel arrived in 2001 after a successful run at Toledo, Missouri had two winning records.
"I'll give you a list of things our players have had to overcome since we got here," Pinkel said. "It's a long list. Our players are very well aware of it."
Players and coaches believed overcoming three turnovers and crucial special teams errors to win the final pre-conference tuneup, even though Buffalo was a 33 1/2-point underdog, will help in preparations for the first big game of this season. After the sloppy outing, Missouri dropped a spot to No. 6 just behind LSU in the poll.
"I think it might help a bit, just from the fact we had to stay in there all four quarters," tight end Chase Coffman said. "It might be kind of good for us."
Entering the final week of pre-conference play, the strength of the Big 12 was evident. Four teams are in the Top 10, Oklahoma (3), Missouri, Texas (7) and Texas Tech (10), with a combined record of 14-0. Kansas is 18th and two others, Oklahoma State and Colorado, received votes this week.
The Big 12 is 33-8 against non-conference opponents, even after its toughest week of tuneups with Texas A&M losing to Miami and UNLV beating Iowa State in overtime on Saturday to wrap up a 5-4 showing. The highlight: Colorado's 17-14 victory over No. 22 West Virginia on Thursday.
Texas Tech (4-0) didn't allow a first-half touchdown for the third straight week in a 56-14 victory over Massachusetts. The Red Raiders also rushed for 100 yards for the fourth straight game in a single season, a first since Mike Leach arrived in 2000.
"That was never hidden," said Shannon Woods, who ran for three scores to match his career high. "We just never would do it. A lot of that had to do with us proving ourselves in the run game."
Woods said he lobbies quarterback Graham Harrell for more running plays.
"Me and Graham, we're the same year so I can kind of talk him into a run here and there," Woods said jokingly.
Kansas quarterback Todd Reesing set a school record with his 14th 200-yard passing game in a 38-14 victory over Sam Houston State, throwing for 356 yards and two touchdowns. His main target was Kerry Meier, who had a career-best eight catches for 136 yards and a 69-yard touchdown.
Missouri's Daniel broke the Big 12 record with 20 consecutive completions and hasn't thrown an interception in 131 passes dating to the opener against Illinois. For the season he has 12 touchdown passes and one interception.
The Tigers fell to second in the nation in scoring (53.75 points) after its first sub-50-point outing. Jeremy Maclin also did his part with a career-best 14 receptions for 168 yards, and totaled 236 all-purpose yards.
Iowa State (2-2) forced overtime by erasing a 21-point second-half deficit against UNLV before losing 34-31. The Cyclones have lost 13 in a row on the road.
(Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)