HATTIESBURG, Miss -- Don't take any lessons away from last week's Miss America pageant.

Baby, you don't gotta be pretty to win.

The last two games over the past three weeks have proved that to Nebraska's football team, its coaches and Husker Nation. An 18-10 victory over Penn State went up in the win column, and that's all that matters. Now a 38-14 win over Southern Mississippi can join it.

Frame those ugly things, because, you know what? Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and this beholder thinks winning ugly is beautiful. Winning is winning.

Right now when the Huskers have gone unshucked for four games, and with Troy State sitting next in line, what more could you ask for on the bottom line?

Yes, keeping with the beauty pageant metaphor, Nebraska could do a little better in the evening gown competition, but when it comes to the talent portion, they're doing better than last year. Amazing considering it's pretty much the same team, right?

And Nebraska is getting prettier.

Case in point, the four beautiful arcs Jammal Lord hoisted high into the muggy Mississippi sky Thursday night.

One caught Ross Pilkington right in stride. Score.

The next caught Isaiah Fluellen right in stride. Strike that band up again (oh wait, it didn't make the trip.) Cue cheerleaders.

The next fell just out of Fluellen's reach, but was on target. Same goes for the fourth-quarter pass to Matt Herian.

You know what was pretty about those babies? Consistency. The last time Jammal Lord would have thrown four balls like that in the same game would have been the first. Call me crazy, maybe it's this midnight 85-degree temperature and humidity, but I really don't think those are the last beautiful passes you'll see from Jammal.

"We've been looking for some big plays," NU Coach Frank Solich said after the game. Jammal helped deliver them, this time through the passing game -- and when the game was on the line, too.

Aside from the passing, there was more ugly beauty to be found.

The defense was downright nasty again for the three quarters that mattered. Dustin Almond took quite the Blackshirt beating that even Frank Costa would have winced from. The running game, well that was really ugly.

Robin Miller's first career touchdown score -- the 47-yarder -- made him Nebraska's leading rusher in the game. What's better, the two carries he got were his first two carries of the season.

That Nebraska can pack away its running game for the first time this season and still score 31 points, matching its season high, bodes well. Mainly because of the defense. In part because this offense showed it can pass. At least sometimes.

But let's not hope this passing game gets a raging case of Todd Hundley disease. You know, one breakout performance (see New York Mets, late 1990s) and then nothing, zippo, from that point on. The Huskers will need the air game to step up, especially if winning ugly sticks around as NU's modus operandi.

And winning ugly could work in the Big 12 North. Kansas State and Colorado do not have close to the defenses previously thought. Missouri suddenly looks like real stiff competition for the division title, but their defense isn't earning any cool nicknames (Iron Curtain, Purple People Eaters, for example).

So maybe Nebraska can keep playing ugly, because who really cares as long as it gets the job done.

This isn't a beauty pageant anyway.

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Unsigned editorials are the opinions of the Fall 2003 Daily Nebraskan. They do not necessarily reflect the views of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, its employees, its student body or the University of Nebraska Board of Regents. A column is solely the opinion of its author; a cartoon is solely the opinion of its artist. The Board of Regents acts as publisher of the Daily Nebraskan; policy is set by the Daily Nebraskan Editorial Board. The UNL Publications Board, established by the regents, supervises the publication of the paper. According to policy set by the regents, responsibility for the editorial content of thenewspaper lies solely in the hands of its employees.