1961 Orange Bowl



Orange Bowl -- Miami, Fla.

Missouri's 1960 team was the first to be ranked No. 1 nationally. The Tigers began the season with nine straight victories, a string which included Oklahoma's first home conference loss since 1942. Only a 23-7 loss to Kansas knocked them from that pedestal, however, Mizzou was later awarded a win when it was discovered the Jayhawks had used an ineligible player. The Tigers got their second straight Orange Bowl bid in the first year a team was allowed to play in the same bowl two consecutive years.

Mizzou's opponents were the Navy Midshipmen, a team boasting Heisman Trophy winner, halfback Joe Bellino. The Tigers held Bellino to four yards rushing, a key to their 21-14 victory.

The game's opening quarter was so bizarre and exciting, it nearly made the rest of the game seem uneventful. The circus started with Missouri on Navy's 2-yard line, threatening to score. But on the next play, Navy's Greg Mather scooped up a fumble and returned it for a 98-yard score, the longest play in Orange Bowl history, for a 6-0 Middie lead. Not to be outdone, Mizzou's Norm Beal picked off a Hal Spooner pass at the Tiger 10 and brought it back for a Missouri touchdown and a 7-6 advantage.

After this riotous exchange of touchdowns, the game settled into a Missouri domination at the line of scrimmage. The Tigers went on drives of 80 and 74 yards, piling up 296 yards rushing to Navy's minus-8. Mel West led the way for the Tigers with 111 yards and Donnie Smith helped out with 93. Despite Mizzou's ground domination, it was the pass defense which preserved the victory, grabbing four interceptions, including two by Andy Russell and one by Fred Brossart on the game's final play.

The triumph capped an undefeated season and Mizzou finished 4th in the UPI and 5th in the AP polls. In those days final polls were released before bowl games, so in the AP poll Missouri was actually ranked behind Navy in the final poll.

NAVY 6 0 0 8 -- 14
MISSOURI 7 7 0 7 -- 21

N -- Mather 98 fumble return (kick failed)
M -- Beal 90 pass interception return (Tobin kick)
M -- D. Smith 4 run (Tobin kick)
N -- Mather 98 fumble return (kick failed)
M -- Beal 90 pass interception return (Tobin kick)
M -- D. Smith 4 run (Tobin kick)
M -- Taylor 1 run (Tobin kick)
N -- Bellino 27 pass from Spooner (Luper pass from Spooner)
Att. -- 71,218

MU Navy
First Downs 19 9
Rushes-Yards66-296 24-(-8)
Passing Yards 5 176
Passes 1-6-0 13-23
Punts-Avg. 4-30.5 7-35.4
Penalties-Yards 1-15 1-4

RUSHING -- N: Prichard 1-9, Meyer 2-6, Bellino 8-4. MU: West 21-108, Smith 16-93, Mehrer 5-41, Stevenson 7-37.
PASSING -- N: Spooner 13-21-4-176, Dietz 0-2-0-0. MU: Taylor 1-6-0-5.
RECEIVING -- N: Prichard 4-69, Bellino 3-37, Matalavage 2-33. MU: West 1-5.