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Friday, October 03, 2008

Nebraska vs. Missouri: The Rivalry That Isn't/Never Was

I know how much Missouri fans are looking forward to this game as they should be. Their team is ranked 3rd and 4th in the polls and the last time they won in Lincoln was before many of us were born. The one thing I'm failing to understand as I read Missouri columnists and bloggers this week is how much they honestly believe this game is a rivalry based somewhat on the scale of Auburn/Alabama, Texas/Oklahoma, Navy/Army, Michigan/Ohio State... It's not.

Let me give you an idea on how 'The Nebraska/Missouri Bell' works...

"Bell was originally stolen from a church in Seward, Neb., by two Nebraska fraternities (Phi Delta Theta and Delta Tau Delta) who shared the same house ... When each fraternity moved to separate living quarters, they battled for possession of the bell each year in a specified contest athletic or academic ... When in 1927, Missouri proposed a suitable trophy be established for the MU-Nebraska football rivalry, the bell was suggested and adopted - engraved on one side with an "M" and on the other with an "N" ..."

I'll be honest here. Most of us had no idea this existed until a few weeks ago when some Mizzourah fans brought it up in a comment section claiming battles for this 'prized' bell by asking something to the effect of 'how can you say there is no tradition when we have playing for the Missouri/Nebraska Bell for over 80 years.' The Innocents and Q.E.H.B. are the Honorary Societies of Nebraska and Missouri, respectively. They are the two groups that hold the trophy.

Not that academics aren't important (we have an NCAA leading 260 academic All-Americans; Notre Dame is second with 204), but here's the problem. The trophy started in Nebraska, was passed around fraternities at Nebraska for years, and for some reason, Missouri thought it was cool and wanted to be a part of it. Now it is celebrated by chemical engineering majors. I'm pretty sure it gets stowed away in the janitor's closet of the North Stadium when Nebraska wins it back.

Some statistics worth noting:

  • Missouri's last win in Lincoln was 1978.
  • Missouri's last conference championship was in 1969 where they split it with Nebraska.
  • Since 1969, the Huskers have won 5 National Championships, 16 Big 8 Championships, 3 Heisman Trophies, and 2 Big 12 Championships.
  • Big 12 Conference titles (all sports): Nebraska 63. Missouri 2.
  • National Team titles (all sports) for the Big 12 since 1996: Nebraska 7. Missouri 0.

Even more statistics worth noting:

  • Missouri has had 8 consensus All-Americans.
  • Nebraska has had 52 consensus All-Americans.
  • Missouri has been to 25 bowl games since 1924 with a 11-14 record.
  • Nebraska has been to 44 bowl games since 1941with a 22-22 record.
  • Missouri has a total of 6 conference championships since joining the Big 8 in 1939.
  • Nebraska has a total of 31 conference championships since joining the Big 8 in 1928.
  • Nebraska leads the all-time series 63-35-3.

The far left corner of Nebraska's trophy case...

and Missouri's entire trophy case...

It's hard to call a team a rival when you have 5 of them:

Missouri's Rivals (a.k.a. opponents)

#1 Kansas (The Border War)
#2 Illinois (Arch Rivalry or Braggin' Rights)
#3 Iowa State (The Telephone Trophy)
#4 Nebraska (The Missouri-Nebraska Bell)
#5 Oklahoma (The Peace Pipe)

Pick one.

For as dominant as Missouri thinks they have been against Nebraska as of late, let's not forget that Nebraska was a home underdog in 2004 (NU 24-3) and 2006 (NU 34-20) to Missouri.

Who are you picking to win Chase Daniel?

The play that will forever be engraved in Missouri fans' heads is becoming a distant memory. For Nebraska, it was just another win that lead to just another National Championship.

Missouri at Nebraska, Saturday, October 4, 9:00 PM ET
Open Current Current Current Current
70.5 O/U
69.0 O/U

My advice on this game for gamblers everywhere: betting the potent and highly ranked Missouri football team of 2008 sounds too good to be true. I'd be wary.

We'll probably lose the game. We might even win. But win or lose, the 2008 Nebraska team isn't going to define their season on this one game. We really have NOTHING to lose here. For Nebraska, it is still a rebuilding process under a 1st year coach. For Missouri, Sunday morning will be one day closer to another loss to a Big 12 South team and another shut-out of a Heisman Trophy, Big 12 Championship, and a delusional National Championship.