They say New Orleans and the surrounding land in Louisiana, Texas and Mississippi are sinking at the rate of one half-inch per year. Wonder what the weight of the Husker Nation would do to that decline in elevation come Sugar Bowl time.

That's crazy talk this early, but the Big Red did clear some big hurdles with its 38-14 victory against Southern Mississippi on Thursday night in Hattiesburg.

This batch of Cajun-style leftovers starts with the feel-good story of the game - Robin Miller's 47-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter.

Miller, a senior who has battled knee and ankle injuries throughout his frustrating Husker career, had two carries, giving him a grand total of 10 rushes in four seasons.

But one of those carries made Miller the Huskers' top rusher for the game. Offensive coordinator Barney Cotton said the call ("45 Roll") had been collecting dust in the playbook.

"It made me kind of wonder why that was the first time we called that play," Cotton said. "It was just an inside zone play out of a certain set that we hadn't run yet."

Miller went inside, then outside and down the sideline for a touchdown, the second of his career. He credited teammate Grant Mulkey, a reserve receiver, for the block that cleared the way to the end zone.

When Miller came off the field, he got a big high-five from Cotton and a bear hug from running backs coach Tim Albin.

"Everyone was excited," Miller said.

Especially head coach Frank Solich.

"Everybody on this football team, from the coaching staff to every player, felt great for Robin," Solich said, "because he's gone through so much. He's had a number of things that have kind of set him back.

"He's been such a team player."

n The same could be said for Richie Incognito. NU's star offensive lineman had several opportunities to lose his cool Thursday night - fans were taunting him and so were Southern Miss defenders - but Incognito kept his emotions in check.

n In response to my Friday column, I got a friendly call from one of the Golden Eagle students who got kicked out for causing too much trouble behind the Husker bench. Anyone want his phone number?

n I think we can all lay off Jammal Lord for a while. He played very well Thursday night in a tough environment. "I'm proud of the way he sat in the pocket," Cotton said. "He gave the offense the big-play opportunities. He put the ball right on the money on two of those deep throws."

n Several NU coaches hit the recruiting trail after Thursday's game armed with some great sales material. You can't beat a strong showing on ESPN when there's no other football to be seen that day.

n Just as everyone expected, it looks like the Big 12 North is down to a two-team race between Nebraska and Kansas. It's nuts, I know, but I still like the Huskers' chances of pulling off the upset Nov. 8 in Lawrence.

n Gary Pinkel's stock sure dropped in a hurry. Funny how things are shaking out around the Big 12. The best NU-Mizzou battle on turf this fall might be today's 1 p.m. futbol game at the Abbott Sports Complex.

n Did you know that there are several bars in New Orleans that do not close - ever? It's true. Just don't ask me how I know.

John Mabry is proud of himself for John Mabry is proud of himself for writing an entire NU football column without mentioning a certain assistant coach who would be known as Beau in the French Quarter. Reach Mabry at 473-7320 or