(KMOV) -- With conference play set to begin and Tiger enthusiasm running high in Missouri, the time seemed right to take a few moments to temper that with a bit of enemy perspective before the Tigers head to Lincoln in search of their first win there in three decades. Little did we know, the enemies du jour wouldn't be too unkind to the men in black and gold.
is the Nebraska Cornhuskers blog for , the same site that hosts , whose co-manager Bill Connelly joined us here earlier in the week at with some Mizzou blogging perspective. This time around, Corn Nation bloggers Jon Johnston (known in the blogosphere as Corn Blight), Brandon Cavanaugh (Blankman) and Mike Jaixen (Husker Mike) joined us to provide some insight on their beloved Big Red team. All three were entertaining and informative guests, and we can't thank them enough for joining us. Without further ado, off to the gridiron we go
SW: Give us a feel for the Cornhuskers this year. What have been the top three themes or moments of the young season thus far?
Blankman: I'd have to say that the top three themes would be Bo Pelini being back in the saddle, a lot of young talent waiting in the wings and a program learning how to crawl. This is a team still trying to find its identity on all levels, especially after losing to Virginia Tech. A win over the Hokies may not have helped much, though. Nebraska played sloppy and reaped what it sowed.
Corn Blight: Learning, learning and learning. The coaching staff is learning how to work together, the players are learning a new system, and most importantly, they're learning how to get back to playing Cornhusker football. Last season, we weren't physical, and we weren't passionate - both have to be exorcised.
SW: Tell me one thing the rest of the country doesn't know about this Nebraska team that it should.
Husker Mike: We're not sure that Husker Nation knows a lot about this team. Or at least, we hope we don't. We think that there is some talent on this team, but it's been inconsistent at best. That inconsistency could be fatal against an opponent like Missouri, which has been extremely efficient.
Blankman: Last year after USC, obviously the air was let out of the balloon. After losing to Virginia Tech, there is still a lot of energy and belief that every game is a potential win, even when facing a team like Missouri. As mentioned before, Nebraska has a lot of young talent. Mizzou and the rest of the nation will learn a few new names wearing the scarlet and cream.
Corn Blight: We've played a lot of guys to date, and not because our first three games were against lower level teams. There's been a concerted effort to get younger guys into the game. It'll pay off down the road - when is anybody's guess.
SW: What are the expectations in Lincoln for this team this season? Is there a wins total or a postseason result that you and the fan base feel like this team needs to achieve in order for this to be a successful season?
Husker Mike: This was an oft-discussed item over the summer. Some people felt that after last season, merely playing hard was enough.Others felt that a bowl game was required, which means six or seven wins. Others felt that eight or nine wins were in order. I think those expectations are starting to be tempered by the start of the season, both by the Huskers and the rest of the Big XII.
Blankman: It varies from person to person. Right now, I feel that if Pelini can continue to keep the team focused and feel out his own position as the head man while contributing to all facets of the job at the same time as making sure his assistants are doing their jobs, that'll be a win in and of itself. A bowl game wouldn't hurt, though.
Corn Blight: My expectation is that we win enough games to get to a bowl game and that we play with passion, something that sounds trite but was completely missing from Bill Callahan's last team.
The key is to win enough games and look good enough doing it so the fans don't get restless. It will take a while to get back on a national level. Husker fans will need to exercise patience so we don't become the next Alabama - repeatedly throwing coaches into a grinder until we go out and buy a mercenary.
SW: As you're all too well aware - but I can't help myself from rubbing it in - the Huskers took a 41-6 pounding in their trip to Columbia last season. As I'm all too well aware, the Tigers haven't won in Lincoln in 30 years. What facet of the game will be most important for the Huskers toward rebounding from last season's defeat and keeping the Tigers' winless streak in Lincoln alive?
Husker Mike: Probably the mental effort. Last year's team raised the white flag of surrender in Columbia. They didn't score another touchdown until the 4th quarter of the next game, after being outscored 79-6 over the two games. They have to be more resilient when bad things happen, to pick themselves off the field and try to rally. If there was one bright spot from last week's Virginia Tech loss, it's that they made a game of it in the fourth quarter.
Blankman: Nebraska got slapped around in Columbia.There's no need to be shy about
it. As far as Lincoln 2008, Nebraska needs to come into this game confidently past Tech and continuing to give itself reasons to be confident as the game goes on: three-and-outs, interceptions, long drives, basically anything to confirm that practice is paying off.
Corn Blight: Whether or not the Huskers can establish a running game is key. Our best bet toward winning is to limit Missouri's scoring opportunities, whether by controlling the tempo on offense or by forcing turnovers on defense.
SW: Who is the X-factor for Nebraska this week? Most important match-up for this game?
Husker Mike: Ndamukong Suh and Ty Steinkuhler against the Missouri offensive line. Chase Daniel has been almost machine-like this season. He just sits back in the shotgun and fires the ball towards his receivers. The Nebraska defensive line must get some penetration and get their arms up to obscure Daniel's view of the field. Get him to hesitate, and disrupt his rhythm.Maybe you don't sack him, but the pressure might cause him to throw a couple of incompletions. We know from last season that failure to occasionally press Daniel won't work.
Blankman: Chase Daniel vs. Nebraska's secondary.
Corn Blight: Adi Kunalic vs Jeremy Maclin. Adi Kunalic handles kickoff duties and has placed 12 of 28 into the end zone for touchbacks. It's key that Kunalic has a good game, limiting Missouri's big play opportunities.
SW: Score prediction?
Husker Mike: You're going to make me do this? My head is saying MU 45, Nebraska 17.
Blankman: Missouri 45, Nebraska 20.
Corn Blight: Nebraska 31, Missouri 30.
Is that a homerific prediction? You bet! It's based on the hope that we get some turnovers and put Missouri in a position where the Tigers begin to doubt themselves. Then there's good old-fashioned luck. It's been a while since "The Fifth Down" and "The Flea Kicker." Missouri is due! Improbable? Yes. Impossible? No!
Besides that, what fun would it be if everyone went with Missouri?
Steve Weinman is a Mizzou J-student