COLUMBIA, Mo. (AP) -- Missouri coaches and players learned an important lesson this weekend watching several top-ranked teams while the Tigers spent a bye week preparing for the Big 12 season.
With Saturday's game at Nebraska approaching, Missouri coach Gary Pinkel's message of "over- preparing" rang true for his 4-0 team.
"Players have to listen because it's all about respect and all about preparation and it's that simple," Pinkel said. "Our job as coaches is to motivate players and remind players and educate players to get their leadership together because if you don't play your best you increase your chances of losing."
Top-ranked Southern Cal was upset by Oregon St. and three other top-10 teams -- Georgia, Florida and Wisconsin -- also lost, propelling Missouri up two spots to number four in the new Associated Press poll. The Cornhuskers (3-1) also lost to now No. 20 Virginia Tech 35-30 on Saturday.
Missouri quarterback Chase Daniel, who is friends with quarterbacks Mark Sanchez of USC and Matt Stafford of Georgia, said he felt bad for their misfortunes, but believes the Tigers must use those games as important lessons.
"They said it was the worst feeling in the world and told me to not let my team feel like that," Daniel said. "You have to expect anyone can beat anyone on any day and bring your A-game all the time."
Some Missouri players said the string of upsets was a timely reminder as Big 12 play begins.
"It couldn't have come at a better time, I feel personally," said safety William Moore. "I'm glad because it shows our program that anybody can lose, so you have to go in and respect everybody that you play."
The bye week also gave extra time for some players to nurse injuries.
Moore will take the field for the first time since the Sept. 13 game against Nevada when he suffered a sprained foot. He should help bolster a struggling pass defense that has shown improvements in the past three games.
Missouri's pass defense is ranked 112th in the nation, giving up approximately 280 passing yards a game. Nebraska has thrown for about 266 yards a game on offense.
But Moore is still impressed by the performance of the defensive backs in his absence.
"I told them to step it up when I was gone and play the way they know how," Moore said. "Nebraska is a great team and it's a challenge for us to go in there with a level head and trust our preparation."
Missouri will also have starting right guard Kurtis Gregory back from a sprained ankle that he suffered against Buffalo on Sept. 20.
Both will be needed as the Tigers will attempt to win at Nebraska for the first time since 1978.
"We have one big rivalry game against Kansas and then everything else is just another big game for us," Pinkel said. "And Nebraska is a big game for us."
(Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)