Nov. 20, 2010
AMES, Iowa (AP)--Blaine Gabbert threw a touchdown pass and No. 15 Missouri turned a fake punt into another score in a 14-0 victory over Iowa State on Saturday night.
On a chilly night in the heartland, Missouri (9-2, 5-2 Big 12) sputtered offensively for most of the game. But the Tigers' defense remained stout and they made just enough plays with the ball to deny Iowa State (5-7, 3-5) the victory it needed for bowl eligibility.
Gabbert threw an 11-yard touchdown pass to Michael Egnew in the first quarter and De'Vion Moore scored from the 1 in the second half after punter Matt Grabner kept the drive alive with a 15-yard run on fourth-and-2 at his own 28.
Missouri won its second straight after a two-game losing streak spoiled a 7-0 start. This is just the sixth time Missouri has won nine games in a season.
With the regular-season finale against Kansas and a bowl game still to go, the Tigers could reach 10 wins for the fourth time.
Iowa State, which broke out special gold jerseys for the game, had to go with sophomore Jerome Tiller at quarterback in place of injured starter Austen Arnaud. Tiller, making his third career start, gave the Cyclones a spark at times with this running, but he completed only 13 of 31 passes for 155 yards and lost a fumble at the Missouri 30 when the Cyclones were driving.
Arnaud, a three-year starter, had his college career end when he tore ligaments in his left knee in a 34-14 loss at Colorado a week ago. He was introduced with the other seniors before kickoff and encouraged Tiller and offered him advice on the sideline during the game.
Gabbert finished 16 of 26 for 172 yards with no interceptions, while Egnew caught seven passes for 77 yards. But the Tigers' offense overall never generated much rhythm and stalled repeatedly.
Iowa State just couldn't do enough with Tiller to capitalize. The Cyclones needed one victory in their last three games to become eligible for a second straight bowl appearance, but they lost all three and wound up with their fourth losing season in five years.
Clinging to a 7-0 lead late in the third quarter, Missouri lined up in punt formation at its own 28 after falling 2 yards short of a first down. But Iowa State left the middle of the field open and Grabner sprinted straight ahead to a first down at his own 43.
Gabbert hit Egnew, his tight end, for gains of 11 and 16 yards and ran 15 yards on a quarterback draw. The Tigers got a scare when Gabbert fumbled as he was hit, but teammate T.J. Moe recovered at the ISU 6 and Moore scored two plays later.
Missouri managed to put together an 80-yard scoring drive during what was otherwise a dull first half.
Gabbert completed passes of 26 yards to Rolandis Woodland and 24 yards to Egnew before a roughing the passer penalty gave the Tigers a first down at the Iowa State 11. On the next play, Gabbert lofted a pass toward the far right corner of the end zone, where the 6-foot-6 Egnew made a leaping catch.
Take away that drive and the Tigers produced just 98 first-half yards on 23 plays.
Tiller moved the Cyclones at times--they ran six more plays than Missouri in the first half--but he couldn't finish the drives.
Iowa State's best chance to score in the opening half came when Alexander Robinson's 18-yard run gave the Cyclones a first down at the Missouri 23. But the next three plays netted only 3 yards and Grant Mahoney's 38-yard field goal attempt hooked wide left.
Mahoney also missed a 27-yard attempt in the third quarter and finished the season 8 for 17, missing seven of his last eight kicks.