November 2, 2006

Huskers, Tigers to meet for North lead

How's this for a little Northern Exposure? When Big 12 North co-leaders Missouri and Nebraska meet for a regionally-televised matchup Saturday in Lincoln, one team will gain an edge toward becoming the first squad other than Colorado or Kansas State to represent the division in the Big 12 Championship game in seven years. The loser will leave with its third defeat in four weeks.

So goes the beat for the North, which not only continues to struggle against the South (3-13 in intra-divisional games) but has seen its top two teams - the Tigers, 7-2 overall and 3-2 in the Big 12; and the Huskers, 6-3 and 3-2 - fall into the also-rans in The Associated Press poll after each lost last weekend.

Nebraska, which hasn't won the North crown since 1999, was ranked during the first nine weeks of the season. Missouri, which last won the Big Eight title in 1969, was ranked in the previous five polls.

"This is a huge game for both programs," Nebraska head coach Bill Callahan said. "We'd like to be coming into this game after winning the last two weeks, but that isn't the case and I'm sure Mizzou feels the same way."

Nebraska has lost its last two, including a 22-20 loss to Texas at home and a 41-29 loss at Oklahoma State last weekend. Missouri has lost two of its last three. Like the Huskers, the Tigers have struggled against the South, as a 25-19 loss at Texas A&M and a 26-10 loss to Oklahoma at home sandwiched a 41-21 win over Kansas State.

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