The Missouri defensive line spent all week looking at film and looking for weaknesses in the Nebraska offense. But the most important instruction they got may have been a simple piece of paper.
"They had a piece of paper talking about our coaches forgot how to recruit defensive linemen," said Brian Smith, who moved within a single sack of the Missouri record on Saturday. "You can't put stuff like that on paper or we'll take it personally. You don't want to hype a team up anymore than what they are already for the game."
"We look for articles on the Internet and everything," Pinkel admitted. "There were some articles written about how off our defensive line has been. None of that was from the Nebraska players or coaches, just things that had been written."
The motivational tactic worked. The Tigers hounded Husker quarterback Zac Taylor all day long. Officially, Taylor was sacked four times, but he was hurried many more times and spent a good deal of the afternoon on his back.
"It just fueled our fire," Smith said of the pre-game talk. "We went out there and kept that in mind, played with heart and guts."
"We just had to put as much pressure as we could and get to our spots," said Dedrick Harrington, who had six tackles on Saturday. "They defintiely took it personally. They fueled the defense and they played a great game today."
Equally as impressive as the pass rush was the strong showing by the Tigers' run defense. Mizzou came into the league 11th in that category, but should get a strong boost when the rankings are released again on Monday. Mizzou held the Huskers to negative-2 yards rushing on Saturday.
"They had negative yards? I didn't know that," said Lorenzo Williams. "Nebraska's a great rushing team. We watched film last week against Baylor and they ran the ball really good. I didn't even know about that. I guess that's a good job by us."
The Huskers gave Cory Ross, the league's third-leading rusher, just ten carries on the day. In the final three quarters, Ross ran five times for ten yards.
"He had nowhere to go," said Xzavie Jackson. "So why would they give him the ball?"
Williams' effort on Saturday might have been the most impressive. He spent four hours in the hospital on Wednesday night after getting hit in the head during practice and briefly losing feeling on the left side of his body. He bounced back with 2.5 tackles, a forced fumble and a pass breakup. The rest of the line was just as good. Stryker Sulak had two tackles and multiple pressures. Evander Hood had a tackle for a loss. Smith and Jackson combined for two-and-a-half sacks.
"We got a hell of a defensive line and nobody gives us credit for anything we do," Jackson said. "If it's not a linebacker or a safety that you hear his name called out 30 times a game, then they don't know who it is. We're the unsung heroes of the defense. If we get our job done up front then the defense is clicking."
It was clicking on Saturday to the tune of a second-half shutout that allowed the Tigers to ensure remaining in a tie for the Big 12 North lead.