Missouri Set to Host Bowling Green

MUTIGERS.COM Sean Weatherspoon
MUTIGERS.COM
Sean Weatherspoon
MUTIGERS.COM

Sept. 7, 2009

TIGER NEWS & NOTES
Bowling Green Falcons (1-0) at Missouri Tigers (1-0)
Sept. 12, 2009 - Memorial Stadium/Faurot Field - Columbia, Mo.

KICKOFF: 6:07 p.m. (central time).
STADIUM: Memorial Stadium/Faurot Field (71,004 - FieldTurf surface). Opened in 1926. MU is 247-164-20 there alltime (5-1 in 2008) and has won 20 of its last 22 overall and is 30-7 there since 2003.
RADIO: Tiger Network. Mike Kelly (play-by-play), John Kadlec (color), Chris Gervino (sidelines), Mark Mills (engineer). Carried on over 50 stations across the Midwest, and on the Internet at mutigers.com. The MU broadcast will also be on Sirius Satellite Radio (channel 130).
TV: Pay-Per-View. Dan McLaughlin (play-by-play), Corby Jones (color), Todd Donoho (sidelines), Allan Flowers (producer), Will Bealke (director).
RANKINGS (AP/USA): MU - RV [48th] / RV [34th]; BGSU - NA / NA.
SERIES: BGSU leads, 3-1, and is 2-1 in Columbia, including a 20-13 win in 2001.
COACHES:
Mizzou: Gary Pinkel (Kent, '75), 60-41 at MU (9th year) and 133-78-3 overall (19th year). Pinkel is 5-7 vs. Bowling Green and is 0-0 vs. Dave Clawson.
Bowling Green: Dave Clawson (Williams College, '89), 1-0 at BGSU (1st year) and 59-49 overall (10th year). Clawson is 0-0 vs. Mizzou and Gary Pinkel.

TALE OF THE TAPE
[NCAA Ranking in Brackets]
MIZZOU  BOWLING GREEN
442.00 [T-36th] Total Offense 389.00 [53rd]
117.00 [74th] Rushing Offense 50.00 [97th]
1 TDs Rushing 1
325.00 [13th] Passing Offense 339.00 [9th]
180.59 [18th] Passing Efficiency 147.87 [43rd]
3 TDs Passing 2
37.00 [31st] Scoring Offense 31.00 [T-43rd]
325.00 [61st] Total Defense 304.00 [51st]
110.00 [T-58th] Rushing Defense 41.00 [15th]
1 TDs Allowed Rushing 1
215.00 [70th] Passing Defense 263.00 [87th]
102.91 [43rd] Pass Efficiency Defense 112.22 [54th]
0 TDs Allowed Passing 1
9.00 [32nd] Scoring Defense 14.00 [44th]
+2.00 [T-10th] Turnover Margin +1.00 [T-27th]
1/0 Fumbles/Lost 2/0
0 Interceptions Thrown 1
1 Interceptions Gained 2
17.00 [T-87th] Kickoff Return Avg. 20.33 [62nd]
1.50 [82nd] Punt Return Avg. 2.00 [79th]
45.25 [10th] Net Punting Avg. 36.60 [68th]
3.00 [T-17th] Sacks By 2.00 [T-34th]
2.00 [T-63rd] Sacks Allowed 1.00 [T-31st]
29:54 [58th] Avg. Time of Poss. 34:39 [15th]
52.9% [25th] 3rd Down Conv. 30.8% [77th]
100.0% [T-1st] 4th Down Conv. 100.0% [T-1st]

TIGERS HOST FALCONS
The Missouri Tigers (1-0 overall) play host to the Bowling Green Falcons (1-0) Saturday night at Memorial Stadium/Faurot Field. The Tigers are riding high and looking to continue the momentum built from a scintillating season-opening 37-9 win over rival Illinois in St. Louis, Mo. last weekend. In the game, sophomore QB Blaine Gabbert was superb in his first career start, throwing for 319 yards and 3 TDs, while rushing for a fourth score, and the Tiger defense clamped down on an Illini offense that was tops in the Big Ten Conference a year ago. Bowling Green comes to Columbia after claiming a 31-14 season-opening win at home over Troy last Thursday. The Falcons dug out from a 14-0 second-quarter deficit to score 31 straight points - including a 24-0 second-half whitewash - to pull away for the win. Falcon QB Tyler Sheehan had a big game, as he completed 32-of-44 passes for 339 yards and 2 TDs (1 INT), with receiver Freddie Barnes grabbing 15 of those passes for 157 yards and 2 TDs. Bowling Green was held to just 50 yards net rushing on 28 carries, for an average of 1.8 per carry. The Falcon defense intercepted Troy twice in the game, including one that was returned 64 yards for a TD with 2:14 left in the game to seal the deal.

PAY-PER-VIEW INFORMATION
Saturday's game between Mizzou and Bowling Green was not chosen for telecast over the Big 12 Conference package, which typically includes games most weeks on Fox Sports Net, ESPN, ABC or the Versus Network. Per league rules, when a game is not selected for one of those windows, the only option a school has to get the game on TV is to show it on a pay-per-view basis. Saturday's game (with kickoff at 6:07 p.m.) will be produced by Fox Sports Net and offered on various cable providers and satellite systems around the country. Fans are encouraged to check with www.mutigers.com for continuous updates on providers of the telecast, which is available for $29.95. For the Bowling Green game Dan McLaughlin will call the play-by-play alongside former Mizzou star and current FSN Big 12 studio analyst Corby Jones. Todd Donoho will serve as sideline reporter.

TIGERS ACE FIRST TEST, LOOK FOR MORE IN FOLLOW-UP EXAM
If a game is akin to a classroom test, then Head Coach Gary Pinkel will want to put the results of Mizzou's season-opening 37-9 win over favored Illinois on his refrigerator for all of his friends to see, because his kids passed with flying colors. In a game that a vast majority of the "intelligencia" of the football world expected Illinois to walk away with, it was the Tigers who executed in all phases of the game, and who improved to 1-0 with the school's fifth-straight win over the Illini. To guard against any complacency setting in, Pinkel promised his team in the lockerroom after Saturday's game that they'd see the hardest practices they've faced yet on Tuesday and Wednesday. There were a few audible groans heard from the group, but collectively they accepted the fact that there was plenty to improve on, despite the outstanding overall performance in St. Louis. If recent history is any indicator, the Tigers have done a good job of guarding against any letdown after emotional wins over Illinois. Each of the previous four years Mizzou has defeated Illinois to open the season under Pinkel, the Tigers have followed up with wins in their next game. Here's a quick recap:
2002 - Def. Illinois (33-20); Def. Ball State (41-6)
2003 - Def. Illinois (22-15); Won at Ball State (35-7)
2007 - Def. Illinois (40-34); Won at Mississippi (38-25)
2008 - Def. Illinois (52-42); Def. SE Missouri State (52-3)

MIZZOU CONTINUES MASTERY OF ILLINOIS WITH COMPLETE 37-9 WIN
Perhaps the Mizzou Football team should pay taxes on St. Louis' Edward Jones Dome - because the Tigers certainly own the place. Ba da bing! Seriously though, Mizzou improved to 5-0 in the Dome with what can be described no other way than a completely solid 37-9 win over favored Illinois. While coaches get paid to nit-pick and find areas in which their team can improve upon, there really weren't any glaring deficiencies of note, as virtually every area of MU's game last Saturday contributed in the big win. Minus departed offensive stars such as Chase Daniel, Jeremy Maclin and Chase Coffman, the Tiger offense was expected to struggle by most observers. But first-time starting QB Blaine Gabbert was simply outstanding as he belied his youth and inexperience by directing the offense to a big day. Playing in his hometown, Gabbert led Mizzou to scores on 7 of his 9 drives before giving way to reserve QB Jimmy Costello midway through the fourth quarter. Gabbert ended the day with 319 yards passing, 4 total TDs (3 passing, 1 rushing), and 358 yards of total offense. The Tiger defense, much maligned a year ago, was impressive in holding down much ballyhooed Illinois QB Juice Williams. A year after Williams threw for 451 yards and 5 TDs in 2008 against the Tigers, Mizzou did a much better job of containing Juice, as he threw for only 179 yards ran for 27. The Illini were held scoreless until a 2nd-quarter field goal, and were kept out of the endzone until a meaningless TD run in the 4th quarter made it a 30-9 score. Mizzou's special teams contributed significantly to the cause, as well. The biggest splash was made by PK Grant Ressel, who was in his first outing trying to replace departed star Jeff Wolfert, who ended his Tiger career in 2008 as the most accurate kicker in NCAA history (combined FGs/PATs). All Ressel did was go a perfect 3-of-3 on field goals (32, 44 and 41 yards) and a perfect 4-of-4 on PATs for the day. Punter Jake Harry was outstanding as well, as he averaged 49.3 yards on 3 boots, with a long of 60 yards and 2 of them being downed inside the 20 yardline.

TIGERS JUMP ON THROTTLE, DON'T LET UP AGAINST ILLINOIS
With such a young team overall (i.e. - see accompanying note about 34 freshmen/sophomores combined among 51-man two-deep depth chart), perhaps the most impressive aspect of Mizzou's 37-9 win over Illinois last Saturday was the team's killer instinct. Each of the previous two seasons, Mizzou jumped out to significant leads against Illinois, only to hit a second-half lull that allowed the Illini back into both games. But this time around, after jumping out to a 10-0 first-quarter lead, the closest Illinois would get the rest of the way was seven points. The Illini got a 2nd-quarter field goal to pull to within 10-3, but the Tigers closed the half with a pair of field goals from new kicker Grant Ressel, and the defense got an interception and held on downs to take a 16-3 lead into the lockerroom. There would be no second-half surge by Illinois this time, as the youthful Tigers played like crafty veterans in the second half, as sophomore first-time starting QB Blaine Gabbert led a pair of TD drives that covered 81 yards and 70 yards, respectively, and MU blew the game open to lead 30-3 after three quarters. The defense held up its end of the bargain, as well, limiting Illinois on their six second-half possessions to one touchdown, while three drives ended in three-and-out punts, one with a fumble, and one more on downs.

GABBERT WOWS WITH HIS STARTING DEBUT
He's just one start into his career, so as Head Coach Gary Pinkel would say, let's not start erecting any statues of his likeness just yet, but sophomore QB Blaine Gabbert had Tiger nation - and much of the nation overall - abuzz with his stellar play last Saturday. Making his first collegiate start, Gabbert completed 25-of-33 passes for 319 yards and 3 TDs (49, 4 and 46 yards), and rushed for a 4th score on an 8-yard keeper in the 4th quarter. He had 39 rushing yards in all, to give him 358 yards of total offense in his starting debut. His QB rating of 186.96 was the best of any Big 12 signal caller on the opening week, and it was the 2nd-highest rating ever for a Tiger making his starting debut - trailing only the mark of 207.4 set by Chase Daniel in 2006 against Murray State (23-of-32 for 320 yards and 5 TDs). Additionally, thanks to the work of crack Columbia Daily Tribune reporter Dave Matter, Gabbert's QB rating was better than 34 of 41 career starts by Daniel. Gabbert took the field for his first series under some duress, as the Tigers got their first possession of the season in the shadow of their own goalline, taking over on their 7-yardline. Gabbert calmly drove the Tigers 79 yards in 14 plays for a short field goal to give MU a 3-0 lead, that would grow to 10-0 on the next drive as he threw a laser to WR Wes Kemp for a 49-yard TD pass. In all, Gabbert led the Tigers to scores on 7 of the 9 possessions of which he took the field. - they ended in 4 TDs (all of which he personally accounted for), 3 FGs and 2 punts (only one of which was a 3-and-out series).

DEFENSE HALTS BIG PLAYS TO HOLD ILLINI AT BAY
To the surprise of no-one, senior LB Sean Weatherspoon was the ringleader of Mizzou's defensive effort in MU's 37-9 win over Illinois last Saturday, as he turned in a team-high 9 tackles, with 1 QB sack and 1 QB hurry thrown in for good measure. What surprised a lot of people was MU's overall effectiveness on defense, especially after Illinois racked up 532 yards and 42 points in MU's 52-42 shootout win in 2008. Illinois QB Juice Williams threw for a career-best 451 yards and 5 TDs in that 2008 game, and most prognosticators assumed he'd enjoy a similar result in 2009 against a Tiger defense that returned only 4 starters from a year ago, including just 1 starter from the secondary overall. In 2008, Illinois burned the Tiger defense with the big play, as they had a whopping 9 plays that went for 20 yards or more, including 4 that went for 30 yards or more. Last Saturday, it was a different story, as first-year defensive coordinator Stec (seriously, that's what he wants to be called by everyone, his wife Mary Beth even calls him that) had his troops dialed in and hanging back to keep things in front of them, and the plan worked. Illinois had just one pass play in the game that went for for 20 yards or more (a 24-yarder), and the longest rush was just 15 yards (only 3 rushes in all went for 10 yards or more). In all, Illinois managed 325 yards of total offense - more than 200 fewer than they amassed against MU in 2008. Williams' QB rating on Saturday was just 110.84, which was significantly down from his rating of 181.87 from 2008.

SPOON GETS OFF TO GOOD START
The undisputed face, voice and leader of the 2009 Tigers is senior LB Sean Weatherspoon. "Spoon" came to Mizzou as a mostly-unheralded two-star recruit out of Jasper, Texas, and he's looking to leave as an All-American. He got his senior campaign off to a promising start as he registered a team-best 9 tackles in Saturday's 37-9 dismantling of favored Illinois. Spoon added a QB sack of the Illini's Juice Williams, and threw in 1 QB hurry too. Perhaps just as important as Spoon's individual play to his awards candidacy, is the play of the defense overall, and after the Tigers tamed an Illini offense that returned 8 starters from last year's unit which ranked 18th in the NCAA in total offense, they're off to a good start in support of the senior captain. He's been named a 1st-team pre-season All-American by ESPN.com, and is on the pre-season watch lists for the Walter Camp, Butkus, Nagurski, Lombardi, Bednarik and Lott awards in 2009. And for good reason, as he led the Big 12 in 2008 with a career-best 155 tackles, which ranked him 5th in all of the NCAA last year. He closed his junior season in fine fashion as he tallied 17 tackles in helping lead MU to a comeback 30-23 overtime win against Northwestern in the 2008 Alamo Bowl, winning Defensive MVP honors in the process. Spoon entered his name for consideration for the 2009 NFL Draft, but chose to come back for his senior year. In doing so, he has a chance to leave Mizzou as the school record-holder for career tackles. After his 9-tackle outing against Illinois, he has 311 career stops entering the Bowling Green game, which puts him 15th on the MU charts, 123 shy of record-holder James Kinney, who had 434 tackles at the LB position from 2001-04. After earning playing time as a true freshman mostly in a reserve role and on special teams, Weatherspoon emerged on the scene in 2007 as a sophomore. He took over the starting spot at the weakside linebacker position a year ago, and from the get-go was a leader on the defense. He ended the year with a team-best 130 tackles, and was named a 1st-Team All-Big 12 performer by the Associated Press.

RESSEL DOESN'T WRESTLE WITH HIS DEBUT
Replacing the NCAA record holder for career accuracy could be seen as a daunting task for sophomore PK Grant Ressel, but the successor to former star Jeff Wolfert appeared unflapable in Saturday's season opener. Ressel was perfect on all 3 FG attempts as well as nailing all 4 of his point after tries, as he scored 13 points in all as part of MU's 37-9 win over Illinois. Perhaps what was most impressive with his performance is that none of his field goals came in mop-up time. To the contrary, all three came during the first half with the game's outcome still squarely hanging in the balance. It didn't take long for the Jackson, Mo. native to get his first test, as he was called on for a 32-yard attempt that he nailed to cap MU's season-opening possession as the Tigers took a 3-0 lead at the 7:23 mark of the 1st quarter. After MU took a 10-0 lead and Illinois closed to 10-3, the Tiger defense got an interception in Illini territory. The drive stalled out, however, and Ressel was called on to try a 44-yard attempt, which again was true with 8:36 left in the half for a 13-3 lead. He tacked on a 41-yarder for good measure with just :06 seconds left in the half to give Mizzou a huge boost of momentum, as well as a 16-3 lead, into the lockerroom for halftime.

ALEXANDER THE GREAT
Senior WR Danario Alexander was another star in Saturday's big win, as he turned in career highs of 10 receptions for 132 yards against Illinois. Time and again he was QB Blaine Gabbert's go-to guy, as 6 of his 10 catches came on 3rd or 4th down, with 4 of them extending the chains. A fifth, which didn't gain a first down, was just as crucial as any of them, as he had a 16-yard catch on the sideline on a 3rd-and-27 from the Illinois 30-yardline on MU's opening drive of the game. That catch was essentially worth three points, as it put the Tigers within field goal range, and after Grant Ressel made the ensuing 32-yard field goal, the Tigers were off and running with a 3-0 lead. Alexander's performance last Saturday put him over the 1,000-yard mark in receiving yards for his career. He enters Saturday's game against Bowling Green with 88 career catches for 1,129 yards and 8 TDs. The performance was great to see for such a great kid who has battled through various injuries over the past two seasons. It's easy to forget that Alexander beat out Jeremy Maclin for the starting job at one receiver spot prior to 2007 - a pretty good indicator of his talent. But Alexander broke his wrist in the 2007 season opener, and that kept him out of action for three games. He returned to catch a TD pass in game 5 against Nebraska, and closed the regular season with an 8-catch, 117-yard, 1-TD performance in 4th-ranked MU's historic 36-28 win over arch rival and 2nd-ranked Kansas that led to MU taking over the #1 ranking the next week in the A.P. and BCS polls. But Alexander saw his season come to an end the next week in the Big 12 Championship Game against Oklahoma as he tore knee ligaments while being tackled on an end around. He had surgery to repair the damage, and was making good progress until his ligament graft came undone during the spring of 2008, which forced him to undergo surgery again. He worked hard to return in 2008, and he did so admirably after missing only the first two games, but he clearly wasn't 100% for the season. His numbers dropped from 37 catches for 417 yards and 2 TDs in 2007 in 10 games to 26 catches for 329 yards in 12 games in 2008. He did up his TD total last year to 5. Alexander's perserverance to overcome his challenges was recognized in the off-season by his teammates, as they voted him one of four team captains for the 2009 season.

TIGER BYTES
• - Senior WR Jared Perry just missed his first career 100-yard outing, as he caught 4 passes for 93 yards against Illinois, including a 46-yard TD in the 3rd-quarter that essentially iced the game, as it gave the Tigers a 30-3 lead. Perry's career high in receiving yards was another near-miss of the century mark, as he had 98 yards on 6 catches in 2008 against Nevada. Perry is MU's active leading career receiver with 95 career receptions for 1,241 yards and 8 TDs...
• - Mizzou's starting trio of wide receivers of Danario Alexander, Jared Perry and Wes Kemp combined for 18 receptions that accounted for 302 of MU's 325 passing yards against Illinois in Saturday's 31-9 victory...
• - Senior captain DL Jaron Baston's line score of 2 tackles from Saturday's win over Illinois might not jump off the page, but make no mistake, his play, along with the solid play of sophomore tackles Terrell Resonno and Dominique Hamilton was very important to the cause. Their ability to clog up the middle helped keep Illinois' ground game in check. The Illini managed just 110 rushing yards on the day, and averaged only 3.1 yards per carry...
• - Another standout on the Tiger defense was redshirt freshman DE Aldon Smith, who had six tackles in his collegiate debut, including 3 tackles for loss, which was the second-most among Big 12 defenders in the opening weekend of play. One of those was a QB sack of Illinois' Juice Williams...
• - Sophomore WR Wes Kemp made his starting debut vs. the Illini, and he responded in fine fashion, as he caught 4 passes for 77 yards. After catching a 4-yarder to open MU's second possession of the game, Kemp got free on the right sideline and hauled in a 49-yard TD pass from Gabbert to reach the endzone for the first time in his career, and give the Tigers a 10-0 lead. Kemp played in 9 games a year ago as a true freshman, and caught 1 pass for 15 yards...
• - Mizzou's run game didn't post prolific numbers against Illinois, as it finished with 117 net yards on 37 attempts, for an average of 3.2 yards per try. However, the ground game was still effective overall and provided a nice compliment to the passing game, as Mizzou had 8 rushing 1st downs on the day. Five different times on 3rd-and-2 or less, the Tigers ran the ball under 1st-year offensive coordinator David Yost, and they were successful on getting a 1st down on 4 of them (TB Derrick Washington twice, QB Blaine Gabbert twice). On one of Gabbert's keepers, he even actually went under center for a surprise QB sneak - something not seen much around these parts since the Tigers went to the spread offense prior to the 2005 season. There is no truth to the rumor that a celebratory riot broke out in downtown Columbia immediately after seeing the QB sneak...
• - While TB Derrick Washington was held to 61 yards overall, he did manage 4.4 yards per carry (14 attempts). After starting slow with 8 yards on his 7 1st-half carries (1.1 avg.), he finished strong with 53 yds. on 7 second-half carries (7.8 avg.)...
• - Mizzou's win was its fifth-straight over border rival Illinois, and it also marked win #60 at MU for Head Coach Gary Pinkel (60-41 at MU in his 9th year, 133-78-3 overall in his 19th year). Pinkel improved to 5-0 vs. Illinois and to 3-0 vs. Illinois' Ron Zook...

MIZZOU-BOWLING GREEN SERIES HISTORY
Mizzou and Bowling Green have met four times previously, and the results haven't been kind to the Tigers, as Bowling Green has won 3-of-4 games between the schools. The Falcons have won each of the last two meetings, including a 20-13 win in Columbia which spoiled Gary Pinkel's first game as Tiger head coach in 2001. The Tigers looked to even the score the next season in Bowling Green, Ohio, but the Falcons would have none of it, as the prolific offense of then-coach Urban Meyer outdistanced Mizzou freshman phenom QB Brad Smith, and took a 51-28 win. Former Tiger Coach Larry Smith split two meetings with Bowling Green while at Mizzou, losing in 1995 (17-10) followed by a 37-0 win in 1998, with both games coming in Columbia. Pinkel had plenty of coaching experience against Bowling Green prior to coming to Mizzou, as he went an even 5-5 against the Falcons during his years at Toledo (1991-2000). He actually coached against Bowling Green two straight times, as he defeated the Falcons in his final game as Toledo's head coach in 2000 (W, 51-17), before falling to the Falcons in his Tiger debut to start the 2001 season. Pinkel also has a personal history with the BGSU program, as he served there as wide receivers coach under Denny Stoltz for the 1977-78 seasons, before being lured away to be an assistant coach under Washington's Don James in 1979, where he served in a variety of roles until landing the Toledo job for the 1991 season.

HOME OPENER HISTORY
In its previous 118 seasons of play, Mizzou stands 83-31-4 alltime (72.0%) in home openers. Included in that overall figure is a mark of 53-27-3 (65.7%) in home openers since 1926, the year that Memorial Stadium opened for play. Breaking that down even further, since the playing surface at Memorial Stadium was named Faurot Field in 1972 for MU's legendary coach, the Tigers are 26-11 in home openers (70.3%). The Tigers have won 3 straight home openers, and 10-of-12 overall, dating back to 1997. Mizzou Head Coach Gary Pinkel currently stands 6-2 in home openers in his 8 seasons at the helm for the Tigers. After dropping his first game as MU head coach to Bowling Green in the 2001 home and season opener (L, 20-13), Pinkel's teams have gone 6-for-7 in home openers and have scored a minimum of 35 points in each of those last 7 outings at Faurot Field.

TIGERS ARE 30-7 AT 'THE ZOU' SINCE 2003 SEASON
Since nicknaming Faurot Field/Memorial Stadium "The Zou" prior to the 2003 season, Gary Pinkel's Tigers have done a nice job of defending their home turf (FieldTurf surface, which was also installed prior to the '03 season, by coincidence). Since 2003, the Tigers are an impressive 30-7 at home, good for a winning percentage of 81.1%, including 17-6 during that time in Big 12 competition (73.9%). That breaks down to records of 6-0 in 2003, 3-3 in 2004, 4-2 in 2005, 6-1 in 2006, 6-0 in 2007 and 5-1 in 2008. The Tigers carry an active win streak of 2 games at The Zou, and have won 18 of their last 20 at home dating back to midway through the 2005 season. The only losses in that stretch were a 26-10 setback in 2006 to #19 Oklahoma and a 28-23 loss in 2008 to #17 Oklahoma State. Mizzou has won 9 straight home games against non-conference opponents, dating back to the last setback, a 45-35 loss to New Mexico in the 2005 home opener.

OUT OF THE MOUTHS OF BABES
If the future belongs to youth, then things should be looking up for Tiger Football for a long while, because the 2009 Mizzou team takes the field as an extremely young squad. While Head Coach Gary Pinkel would never offer up youth as an excuse for anything, the fact remains that this team is very young, with only 14 seniors on the roster. Of those, only seven started on offense/defense in the opener against Illinois, with only eight total who are on the two-deep entering Saturday's game against Bowling Green. That's a stark contrast to 2008, when the Tigers began the season with 12 senior starters (5 on offense and 7 on defense). Here's a breakdown of MU's projected starters and the offense/defense two-deep for the Bowling Green game. You'll notice that of MU's 50 players listed on the 2-deep, more than half (34) are either freshmen or sophomores...

STARTERS BY CLASS 2-DEEP BY CLASS
Seniors 6 [3 off./3 def.] 8 [3 off./5 def.]
Juniors 6 [2 off./4 def.] 8 [ 2 off./6 def.]
Sophomores 9 [6 off./3 def.] 20 [14 off./6 def.]
Freshmen 1 [0 off./1 def.] 14 [7 off./7 def.]

TIGERS 2ND IN MOST WINS IN NATION OVER LAST THREE SEASONS
With a school-record 12 wins in 2007, and 10 more wins in 2008, (the first time Mizzou has had double-digit win totals in consecutive years), plus a 1-0 start to the 2009 season, MU's three-year win total of 23 is tied for 2nd-most in the nation during that time period. Here's a look at the leaders...

MOST WINS, 2007-09
Wins School 2007 2008 2009
24 USC 11 12 1
23 Mizzou 12 10 1
23 Oklahoma 11 12 0
23 Boise State 10 12 1
23 Florida 9 13 1
23 Texas 10 12 1
23 Utah 9 13 1
22 Ohio State, BYU, Cincinnati, Tulsa

CAN TIGERS WORK A THREE-PEAT?
Two-time defending champions of the Big 12 North Division, the Missouri Tigers entered the 2009 season without a bullseye squarely on their backs, as most prognosticators have either rivals Kansas or Nebraska winning the North Division. Obviously, the Tigers are dead set on proving the skeptics wrong, after going 7-1 in league play in 2007 (with an average margin of victory in those seven league wins of an impressive 23.4 points per game), followed by a 5-3 league mark in 2008 after beginning that year as the unanimous pre-season favorite by league media. After being picked to win the Big 12 North each of the last two years, the Tigers were slotted 3rd in 2009 by league scribes. Here's a quick look at the preseason media poll (first place votes in parentheses):

NORTH PTS. SOUTH PTS.
1. Nebraska (17) 172 1. Texas (17) 174
2. Kansas (12) 164 1. Oklahoma (15) 174
3. Missouri (3) 124 3. Oklahoma State 130
4. Colorado 100 4. Texas Tech 89
5. Kansas State 81 5. Baylor 75
6. Iowa State 33 6. Texas A&M 33

PINKEL STANDS 3RD ON ALLTIME MU COACHING WINS LIST
Mizzou Head Coach Gary Pinkel is in his 9th season at MU and touts a career record of 133-78-3 (62.9%). The Illinois game to open the 2008 season was the 200th in Pinkel's head coaching career. Pinkel, who has led MU to a combined record of 38-16 (70.4%) over the past 4+ seasons, and to bowl games in 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007 and 2008, has a 9-year record in Columbia of 60-41 (59.4%). Dating back to the 2005 Independence Bowl win over Steve Spurrier and South Carolina, Pinkel has won 32 of his last 43 games overall. MU's win in the 2008 opener against Illinois gave Pinkel his 50th MU win, and he now ranks 3rd on the coaching wins list at MU, with 60.

Pinkel 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. Here's a quick look at the top winning coaches in MU history...

MIZZOU COACHING WINS LEADERS

Coach Wins # Seasons (Years) Record Pct. # Bowls
Don Faurot 101 19 (1935-42, 46-56) 101-79-10 .558 4
Dan Devine 93 13 (1958-70) 93-37-7 .704 6
Gary Pinkel 60 9 (2001-Present) 60-41 .594 5
Warren Powers 46 7 (1978-84) 46-33-3 .580 5

For the efforts in 2007, Pinkel was a finalist for several national coach of the year awards, including the Robinson, Bryant and Munger awards. He was also named the National Coach of the Year by FieldTurf in 2007. Pinkel has led MU to 5 bowl games, and if his Tigers reach a 6th in 2009, he will join Devine as the only other coach to guide MU to 6 bowl games. Pinkel has directed Mizzou to 5 winning seasons (8-5 in 2003, 7-5 in 2005, 8-5 in 2006, 12-2 in 2007, 10-4 in 2008), with those representing 5 of MU's 7 winning campaigns dating back to the 1983 season. The Big 12 North Division titles won by Mizzou in 2007 and 2008 represent the first football conference title of any kind Mizzou has won since 1969 - the last time it claimed a share of the old Big Eight Conference crown. In November of 2008, Pinkel agreed to a new seven-year contract, meaning he'll patrol the Tiger sidelines through the 2015 season.

TIGERS RIDING SCHOOL-RECORD NON-CONFERENCE WIN STREAK
Dating back to the season-opening win against Illinois in 2007, Mizzou has won 11 consecutive non-conference games. That is the longest such streak in school history, surpassing the previous mark of 7 from 1981-82 (see chart below). The last non-conference defeat the Tigers suffered was a 39-38 loss to Oregon State in the 2006 Sun Bowl. If you take bowl games out of the equation, then the Tigers have won 14 straight regular-season non-league games, dating back to a win over Troy in 2005. Mizzou's last regular-season non-conference loss was a home loss in 2005 to New Mexico (45-35). Mizzou Coach Gary Pinkel has enjoyed success against non-conference foes in his time at MU, as he's a solid 27-7 in all (.794) while stepping outside of Big 12 play. Here's a rundown of Mizzou's longest non-conference win streaks (including bowl games):

# Wins Year(s) Began With Ended With
11 2007-09 W, 40-34 vs. Illinois, 9-1-07 Current streak
7 1981-82 W, 24-10 vs. Army, 9-12-81 L, 21-0 at Texas, 9-11-82
6 2005-06 W, 52-21 vs. Troy, 9-17-05 L, 39-38 vs. Oregon St., 12-29-06
6 1998-00 W, 35-14 vs. Northwestern St. L, 62-9 at Clemson, 9-9-00
6 1978-79 W, 45-14 vs. Miss., 9-23-78 L, 21-0 vs. Texas, 9-29-79
6 1968-69 W, 44-0 vs. Illinois, 9-28-68 L, 10-3 vs. Penn St., 1-1-70
6 1960-61 W, 20-0 vs. SMU, 9-17-60 T, 14-14 vs. California, 10-7-61

TIGERS HAVE BEEN CREAM OF THE BIG 12 NORTH CROP
Thanks to the research skills of resident MU football historian Tom Orf, we proudly pass along the following tidbits about Mizzou and the Big 12 Conference North Division... o Mizzou has won the most games, both in Big 12 North play, as well as overall, in the last 7 years (2003-09). The charts look like this:

BIG 12 NORTH TEAM WINS BIG 12 NORTH TEAM WINS
LAST 7 YRS., ALL GAMES LAST 7 YRS., BIG 12 GAMES ONLY
School Record School Record
Mizzou 51-27 Mizzou 27-21
Nebraska 47-29 Nebraska 25-23
Kansas 44-31 Kansas 22-26
Kansas St. 38-37 Colorado 20-28
Colorado 33-43 Kansas St. 19-29
Iowa St. 26-47 Iowa St. 11-37

 

 

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