Aug. 27, 2007
Missouri Tigers (0-0) vs. Illinois Fighting Illini (0-0)
Sept. 1, 2007 — Edward Jones Dome — St. Louis, Mo.
KICKOFF: 2:36 p.m. CT.
STADIUM:Edward Jones Dome (66,000 – FieldTurf surface).
RADIO:Tiger Network (Mike Kelly, play-by-play/John Kadlec, color/Chris Gervino, sidelines). Carried on over 50 stations statewide, and on the Internet at mutigers.com, and on Sirius Satellite Radio (Channel #122).
TV:ESPN2. Dave Pasch (Play-by-Play), Andre Ware (Analysis), Jimmy Dykes (Sideline).
RANKINGS (AP/COACHES):MU - RV/RV; ILL - None.
SERIES:MU leads, 13-7, including 3-1 alltime in games played in St. Louis, Mo. MU won games there in 2002 (33-20) and 2003 (22-15) most recently.
Mizzou:Gary Pinkel (Kent, ‘75), 37-35 at MU (7th year) and 110-72-3 overall (17th year). Pinkel is 2-0 versus UI and 0-0 vs. Ron Zook.
Illinois:Ron Zook (Miami, Ohio, ‘76), 4-19 at UI (3rd year) and 27-33 overall (6th year). Zook is 0-0 versus MU and Gary Pinkel.
ARCH RIVALRY RENEWS AS TIGERS, ILLINI MEET IN ST. LOUIS
The Missouri Tigers (8-5 in 2006) and Illinois Fighting Illini (2-10) will kick off the 2007 season in the recruiting battle ground of St. Louis, Mo., as the rivals will square off in the State Farm Arch Rivalry game, set for Saturday, Sept. 1st in the Edward Jones Dome. Kickoff for the ESPN-2 telecast is set for 2:36 p.m. (central).
Mizzou is coming off an 8-win regular season for only the 10th time in school history, and boasts what should be one of the nation’s top offensive attacks, led by junior QB Chase Daniel (5th in total offense in NCAA a year ago) and eight other returning offensive starters including the nation’s top pair of tight ends in senior Martin Rucker (53 catches, 511 yds., 5 TDs in 2006) and junior Chase Coffman (58-638, 9 TDs in 2006), senior WR Will Franklin (48-829 yds., 6 TDs in 11 games) and TB Tony Temple, who is the Big 12 Conference’s leading returning rusher (1,063 yards in 2006).
QUICKLY ABOUT MIZZOU
The 2007 season will be the 117th in Mizzou football history, and the Tigers bring an alltime record of 578-504-52 (53.3%) into ‘07.
Mizzou posted a record of 8-5 in 2006 – which was just the fifth winning season for the program since 1983. Under Head Coach Gary Pinkel, the Tigers have gone 28-21 over the past four years (8-5 in 2003, 5-6 in 2004, 7-5 in 2005, and 8-5 in 2006).
The 2007 Tigers return 15 starters from 2006, including 8 from an offense that ranked 8th in the nation last season, at 425.62 yards per game. Losses from that unit include RT Joel Clinger (13 starts), RG Mike Cook (9 starts) and H-WR Brad Ekwerekwu (7 starts). In all, 12 Tigers return to the offense who have started at least 1 game in their careers.
On defense, Mizzou is replacing 6 lost starters from last year’s unit that was one of the more improved overall in the Big 12 Conference – ranking 2nd in the league in pass defense (185.69 ypg), 3rd in pass efficiency defense (117.67 rating), 3rd in total defense (320.23 ypg) and 4th in scoring defense (19.54 ppg). Losses from the unit include DE sack-masters Brian Smith (MU’s career-leader in QB sacks with 31.5) and Xzavie Jackson (7th on MU sack list with 17.5 alltime), MLB Dedrick Harrington, WLB Marcus Bacon (1st-Team All-Big 12 in 2006), FS David Overstreet and SS Brandon Massey.
The cupboard isn’t exactly bare on defense, however, as there are 8 Tigers in all returning who have starting experience under their belt.
Even with so many experienced players returning to the fold in 2007, the Tigers still have the look of a youthful squad with plenty of upside. Of the 22 projected starters for the 2007 season opener against Illinois, only 8 are seniors, with 10 being juniors, 3 being sophomores and 1 freshman (CB Carl Gettis) in standing.
Of the 44 players listed in the two-deep for the Illinois game, the breakdown included: Seniors – 13; Juniors – 17; Sophomores – 9; Freshmen – 5.
PINKEL AMONG SELECT COACHING HISTORY AT MIZZOU
Mizzou Head Coach Gary Pinkel is in his seventh season at MU and touts a career record of 110-72-3 (60.3%).
Pinkel, who has led MU to a combined record of 28-21 over the past four seasons, and to bowl games in 2003, 2005 and 2006, has a six-year record in Columbia of 37-35 (51.4%).
He is in a select group of Mizzou coaches that includes College Football Hall of Famers Don Faurot and Dan Devine, as well as Warren Powers, to be the only coaches to have an MU record of above .500 (with at least one full season coached) dating all the way back to 1935.
The 2006 season got off to an historic start for Pinkel and his Tigers, as he led MU to its first 6-0 start since 1973, and its first 7-1 start to a season since 1969. He was awared with a new five-year contract late in the year that will keep him on the Tiger sidelines through the 2011 season. The new deal trumped the old contract that was set to expire after the 2008 campaign.
Pinkel has led MU to three bowl games, and if his Tigers can reach a fourth in 2007, he would join Faurot (4 bowls), Devine (6 bowls), and Powers (5 bowls) as the only coaches to guide MU to 4 bowl games. After beating Nebraska (41-24 in 2005) for the second time in three years, Pinkel became the first MU coach since Onofrio to defeat NU twice.
Pinkel has driven Mizzou to 3 winning seasons (8-5 in 2003, 7-5 in 2005, 8-5 in 2006), with those representing 3 of MU’s 5 winning campaigns dating back to the 1983 season.
|1. Mizzou (16)
||1. Texas (16)
|2. Nebraska (8)
||2. Oklahoma (7)
|3. Kansas State
||3. Texas A&M (1)
||4. Oklahoma State
||5. Texas Tech
|6. Iowa State
TIGERS PICKED TO WIN BIG 12 NORTH BY LEAGUE MEDIA PRE-SEASON POLL
Mizzou finds itself in rarified air heading into the 2007 season, as the Tigers were picked to win the Big 12 North Division title in the Big 12 pre-season media poll – marking the first time since the formation of the league in 1996 that MU has been tabbed to win.
A quick look at the pre-season media poll is at right (first place votes in parentheses). Here are some notes on the poll:
- In all but one year of the Big 12 media preseason poll, Mizzou has finished within two spots of where it was predicted to finish. The only exception was last season, when the league scribes picked Mizzou to finish in fifth place, but the Tigers exceeded expectations with a second-place showing...
- The highest MU had previously been picked in the preseason media poll was second in 2004. The Tigers finished fourth that season...
- In the previous 11 preseason polls spanning the Big 12s existence (1996-2006), Mizzou has finished higher than predicted five times (1996 picked 6th, finished 4th; 1997 picked 4th, finished 3rd; 1998 picked 4th, finished 3rd; 2003 picked 4th, finished 3rd; 2006 picked 5th, finished 2nd)...
- Mizzou has finished lower than predicted in the preseason poll only two times (1999 picked 4th, finished 6th; 2004 picked 2nd, finished 4th)...
- Mizzou has finished exactly where it was predicted by league media four other times (2000/6th; 2001/5th; 2002/5th; 2005/4th).
Should the Tigers win the North, it would mark the first conference title of any kind for MU football since tying for the Big Eight championship in 1969.
TIGERS IN SEASON OPENERS
In its previous 116 seasons of play, Mizzou stands 72-39-5 alltime (64.2%) in season openers. The Tigers have won 5 straight season openers, and 9-of-10 overall, dating back to 1997. Included in the current 5-game streak were season-opening wins over Illinois in 2002 (33-20) and 2003 (22-15). In its last 20 season openers, MU is 15-5 overall.
This will mark the 8th time that Mizzou has faced Illinois to open a season, and the Tigers have managed a solid 5-2 record against the Illini in the previous 7 such meetings.
Here’s a quick listing of the previous MU-UI season-openers:
- 1983 – Mizzou 28, Illinois 18 (Columbia)
- 1984 – Illinois 30, Mizzou 24 (Champaign)
- 1991 – Mizzou 23, Illinois 19 (Columbia)
- 1992 – Illinois 24, Mizzou 17 (Champaign)
- 1993 – Mizzou 31, Illinois 3 (Columbia)
- 2002 – Mizzou 33, Illinois 20 (St. Louis)
- 2003 – Mizzou 22, Illinois 15 (St. Louis)
MU-ILLINOIS SERIES HISTORY
Missouri and Illinois will meet for the 21st time when they tangle in the State Farm Arch Rivalry Saturday in St. Louis. MU holds a 13-7 edge in the series, based largely on the strength of taking 9-of-11 games in a stretch from 1949 to 1983.
Since then, the series is almost a dead heat, with MU holding the slightest of possible edges, 4-3, from 1984-2003. The Tigers have claimed the last 2 meetings, however (33-20 in 2002 and 22-15 in 2003), and lead the Fighting Illini 3-1 alltime in games played in St. Louis. The other games played between the two border rivals in St. Louis included 1969 (MU won, 37-6) and 1896 (UI won, 10-0).
||SMU leads, 13-8-2
||MU leads, 13-7
||MU leads, 7-5
||OSU leads, 10-1-1
||UI leads, 6-2-2
MORE MU-ILLINOIS FACTS
Illinois is the 2nd-most common non-conference opponent in MU history. The previous 20 games played vs. Illinois ranks behind only the 23 played alltime vs. SMU. Here’s a brief listing of the Tigers’ most common non-league foes:
LAST MU-ILLINOIS MEETING: MIZZOU 22, ILLINOIS 15 
Recap by Tom Orf...
Illinois out-gained the Tigers 411-223 but MU made the big plays in key situations. The Tigers had to drive only 3 yards (after LB Derrick Ming tackled the punter) and 47 yards for a 14-3 2nd-quarter lead on a 1-yard TD run by TB Zack Abron and a 14-yard pass from Brad Smith to TE J.D. McCoy.
Illinois slowly chipped away with three field goals by John Gockman and took a 15-14 lead over the favored Tigers with 10:36 to go in the game. But QB Brad Smith would then direct a 78-yard drive, including converting on a key 3rd-and-11 at the Illini 46 on a screen pass to Abron that went for 19 yards.
Smith hit WR Darius Outlaw for a 6-yard touchdown with 4:12 left in the game, and then scored the 2-pointer on a run from the 8 after a false start on the first try.
The teams would trade punts and the Illini would take over at their 10 after Christian Morton fielded Brock Harvey’s 52-yard punt at 3 and could only get 7 yards back on the ill-fated return. Illinois QB Jon Buetjer threw for 72 yards on 7-of-9 passing on a last-ditch drive, but a 4th-and-4 pass from the Missouri 23-yardline would fall incomplete at the Missouri 5 with 8 seconds left to end the game.
Mizzou’s Brad Smith ended the day 12-of-18 passing for 102 yards and 2 TDs, while leading the Tigers with 66 yards on the ground on 17 attempts. Abron added 60 yards rushing and 1 TD. Illinois’ E.B. Halsey led all ground gainers on the day with 139 yards, while Beutjer completed 31-of-44 passes for 284 yards and 1 TD.
WATCHING THE AWARDS LISTS
Several Tigers are included on the preseason watch lists for some significant national awards. Here’s a look at Tigers that people are keeping their eyes on:
WALTER CAMP AWARD (PLAYER OF THE YEAR)
• Chase Daniel – 5th in NCAA total offense in 2006 (300.46 ypg)...
DAVEY O’BRIEN AWARD (QUARTERBACK)
• Chase Daniel – MU-record 3,527 passing yds. & 28 TDs & 3,906 tot. off. in ‘06...
• Martin Rucker – MU career TE leader for receptions (119) and yds. (1,341)...
JOHN MACKEY AWARD (TIGHT END)
• Chase Coffman – Led all Big 12 TEs in 2006 in receptions (58), yds. (638) & TDs (9)...
• Martin Rucker – 1st-Team All-Big 12 TE in ‘06 vying for All-American honors in ‘07...
MAXWELL AWARD (OFFENSIVE PLAYER)
• Chase Daniel – Went 8-5 in his 1st year as a starter...
RIMINGTON AWARD (CENTER)
• Adam Spieker – 4th-year starter scheduled to start his 37th straight game Saturday...
GROZA AWARD (PLACEKICKER)
• Jeff Wolfert – One of nation’s top PKs in 2006, making 18-20 FGs & 45-45 PATs...
||Tyler Luellen (Sr.)
||Ryan Madison (Jr.)
||Adam Spieker (Sr.)
||Webb City, Mo.
||Kurtis Gregory (So.)
||Colin Brown (Jr.)
O-LINE IS MISSOURI’S BEEF COUNCIL
With all 5 projected starters on the offensive line for Saturday’s game hailing from small towns in the state of Missouri, the Tiger offensive line could pass as ambassadors for the state’s Beef Council.
Projected starters include senior LT Tyler Luellen (Pre-Season 1st-Team All-Big 12 by Street & Smith’s), junior LG Ryan Madison (10 starts at LG in 2006), senior C Adam Spieker (Rimington Award Watch List & Pre-Season 1st-Team All-American by Phil Steele’s), sophomore RG Kurtis Gregory (13 games played in 2006) and junior RT Colin Brown (13 games played in 2006).
Just how small are the towns that the fivesome comes from? Here’s a quick look across the line, with population of each hometown, and where it ranks in terms of size among Missouri’s 1,263 registered towns (numbers according to www.census.gov website).
The line looks to keep things humming for a Tiger offense that ranked 8th in the NCAA in 2006 in total offense (425.62 ypg). Thanks to them, Mizzou had the nation’s 10th-ranked passing attack last season (276.15 ypg) and also ranked 20th in scoring (30.08 ppg), while ranked 46th overall in rushing (149.46 ypg).
And that’s certainly not to diminish the expected contributions from others who plan to factor in a large way on the line this season – senior LG Monte Wyrick (8 career starts, including 7 in 2006) and sophomore RT Dain Wise (4 games played in 2006), as well as others.
|at Iowa St.
|vs. Oregon St.
DANIEL RETURNS FOR ENCORE OF STELLAR 2006 SEASON
At this time last year, prognosticators didn’t think too highly of Mizzou’s chances for success, as the Tigers were picked to finish 5th in the Big 12 North prior to the 2006 season. That was largely due to the fact that former all-everything QB Brad Smith was lost to graduation after the 2005 season and a record-shattering career.
The pundits obviously overlooked one factor that was in MU’s favor heading into last season – QB Chase Daniel. All Daniel did in replacing Smith was lead MU to its first 6-0 start since 1973, and an 8-win season for only the 10th time in school history.
In doing so, Daniel smashed numerous season records that Smith and others held, including passing yards (3,527 – almost 1,100 more than the old record of 2,436 by Jeff Handy in 1992), passing TDs (28), TDs responsible for (32) and total offense (3,906). Daniel ranked 5th in the NCAA in total offense with his per-game average of 300.5 ypg – that was the highest a Tiger has rated in total offense nationally since Bob Steuber finished 3rd in 1942.
Typical with a first-year starter, Daniel had his share of challenges, but how he finished the season gave Tiger fans good reason to be excited about the future of the offense (right).
Over the summer, Daniel was invited to participate as a camp counselor at the prestigious EA Sports Elite 11 quarterback camp, where he won an individual competition one day and also got to meet legendary signal caller, Joe Montana. Daniel’s visit was a repeat one, as he participated prior to his senior season in high school, when he was named the national player of the year by several outlets.