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LINCOLN, NEB. • As Mizzou tries to purge the anguish of its 31-17 loss to Nebraska on Saturday, it will be contending with what receiver T.J. Moe called the "polar opposite" feeling of the euphoria of toppling then-BCS No. 1 Oklahoma last week.

"It's the first loss of the year; it's very difficult for all of us," MU coach Gary Pinkel said. But "we're battlers, and we're competitors. And we'll get up tomorrow and get back and (get) lessons learned and move on."

Along the way, MU may ask why it strayed from offensive strategies that worked so well against Oklahoma, including enough backfield commotion for MU to run for 178 yards and leave the Sooners guessing whether the Tigers would go by air or by land.

While Nebraska simply could be that much better than OU or offered different attack points, much of what the Tigers did against Oklahoma would seem to have universal usefulness.

Meanwhile, the MU defense that largely had corked most everyone else will be trying to account for why it couldn't contain Nebraska. At least not in time.

The Tigers had been allowing 13.14 points a game (fifth in the nation) but gave up nearly double that by the end of the first quarter, when Nebraska led 24-0.

One factor: MU got caught out of position on blitzes.

"If you don't get in gaps, there's creases," Pinkel said, simply.

Other than San Diego State's two long touchdown runs on Sept. 18, each of Nebraska's four (from 66, 40, 73 and 53 yards away) were the longest scores of the season against the Tigers. Nebraska has a splendid running game, but because of its speed and experience, MU had seemed to be beyond that kind of cave-in.

Even as those questions linger, they are less about second-guessing than about spackling over a few unsightly gaps in an otherwise successful season that still has the potential to be special.

Yes, MU's loss left it falling from No. 7 to No. 14 in The Associated Press poll at 7-1 overall and 3-1 in the Big 12. The Tigers are tied with Nebraska in the Big 12 North standings, with the Cornhuskers owning the tiebreaker.

Yes, the Tigers went from one of seven undefeated teams to one of the dozen now with one loss.

But Mizzou is well-positioned to win its final four regular-season games against teams that are a collective 7-13 in conference play.

That may not be enough to overtake Nebraska, which plays its final four games against teams just 5-12 in the Big 12. But even if not, it would be enough to make MU 11-1, the first one-loss regular season since 1969.

And depending on many, many other moving parts, that could be enough to spring the Tigers into a BCS bowl.

None of those possibilities even is worth contemplating fully until Mizzou shows it can shrug off any potential Nebraska hangover starting Saturday at Texas Tech.

In their first season under Tommy Tuberville, the Red Raiders are 4-4 overall and 2-4 in Big 12 play. The Tigers have won five of their past six against Tech, including two of the last three in Lubbock.

Winning there may not be enough for a polar opposite feeling next week, too, but it could be a key start to better days ahead.

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