October 7, 2009

Powered Up: The North's top two

Two years and four days ago, I wrote that Missouri had a chance to catch Nebraska as a football program. That was three days before the Cornhuskers last played in Columbia. Since then, the Tigers have outscored Nebraska 93-23 and won both games. They have also won two Big 12 North titles. And now, a day before the Huskers first trip to Faurot Field since that 41-6 thrashing in 2007, I tell you this: Missouri has not only caught the Huskers as a football program; Missouri has passed Nebraska as a football program.

As I said then, historically, the Tigers are not on top of Nebraska. The Huskers have the national championship trophies and the Heisman winners and the all-Americans and more than 700 wins. Missouri can't catch Nebraska historically probably until I'm dead. But as I said two years ago, a football program is, to me, as good as its last five years. Beyond that, I call your accomplishments history or tradition. They're nice, nobody can take them away from you. But they don't contribute to what your program is right now.

So what have the last five years been for these teams? Let's take a look.

In the last five years (plus the first four games of this one), Missouri is 46-and-22. The Tigers are 23-and-19 against Big 12 competition (including conference championship games). They have made four bowl games and won three of them. They have won two division titles. They have finished third, second, second, first and first in the North.

In the last five years, Nebraska is 36-and-26. The Huskers are 20-and-21 against Big 12 teams, including conference championship games. They have made three bowl games and won two. They have won one division title. They have finished third, second, first, fifth and second (sorry, you didn't finish first if you didn't play in the championship game) in the division. They have won one division title.

Argue if you want. But in no category over the last five years are the Huskers better than the Tigers. Not one. Add to it the fact that Missouri has won three of the five head-to-head matchups in that span (and four out of six if you go back one more year).

The dynamic of this rivalry (and, yes, it's a rivalry) has changed. Husker fans don't want to admit it. But they're now the ones trying to play catchup. It's not exactly an insurmountable lead for Mizzou. I mean, the last five years are as bad as Nebraska's been in quite a while. They are also as good as Missouri has been in a long time. And, yes, Husker fans, I already know your emails are going to say, "So the best five year run in school history has Missouri marginally ahead of the Huskers and the Tigers haven't even won a Big 12 or national championship in that time? LOL." Sprinkle in a couple of well-placed expletives and you've covered the majority of my correspondence from Nebraska fans the last 24 months or so. But it doesn't change the fact that the Huskers are now the ones trying to catch Missouri.

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