Missouri Meets No. 4 Nebraska In Columbia

MUTIGERS.COM Honorable mention All-Big 12 pick Jamonte Robinson and the Missouri defense will try and stop Eric Crouch and Nebraska this weekend.
Honorable mention All-Big 12 pick Jamonte Robinson and the Missouri defense will try and stop Eric Crouch and Nebraska this weekend.

Sept. 24, 2001

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The Missouri Tigers and Nebraska Cornhuskers will meet for the 95th time on Saturday at Memorial Stadium in Columbia. The Huskers lead the all-time series 59-32-3 and own a 22-game winning streak against the Tigers. Nebraska enters Saturday's game ranked No. 4 in the nation in both the ESPN/USA Today and Associated Press polls. The last time Missouri defeated Nebraska was in 1978, a 35-31 victory in Lincoln. The Tigers last defeated the Huskers in Columbia back in 1973, a 13-12 win.

Missouri and Nebraska have provided fans with plenty of excitement in their last four meetings. In 1997, the Huskers, ranked No. 1 in the country, narrowly escaped Columbia with a 45-38 overtime victory in the infamous "kicked ball game." In 1998, it took a defensive stand by Nebraska on the final drive of the game to hold off the Tigers in Lincoln by a score of 20-13. In 1999, Nebraska won the game 40-10 in Columbia after a number of first half special teams mistakes doomed Mizzou. Last year in Lincoln, it wasn't until the fourth quarter when Nebraksa was able to pull away from a game Tiger team. The Huskers won 42-24.

The University of Missouri Athletics Department will team up with the American Red Cross and Columbia Fire Department on Saturday to raise money for the relief efforts in New York City and Washington D.C. Mizzou's men's and women's swimming and track and field teams will pair up with members of the American Red Cross and Columbia Fire Department to collect funds outside the entrance gates to Memorial Stadium. The money will go directly to the American Red Cross and will be presented at the Big 12 Championship game on Dec. 1 in Dallas, Texas.

Head Coach Gary Pinkel is in his first season at Missouri. In 10 seasons at the University of Toledo, Pinkel established himself as one of the most successful head coaches in Mid-American Conference history. He enters Saturday's contest with a career mark of 74-38-3. He is 1-1 as head coach at Missouri. He left Toledo with 73 wins, ranking him fourth among coaches in MAC history. His Toledo teams finished in the top three in the MAC or MAC West Division eight times, including four first-place finishes. Three of those teams advanced to play in the post-season and captured one MAC Championship and three MAC West Division titles.

Gary Pinkel enters Saturday's contest against Nebraska ranked 14th among active Division 1-A football coaches in winning percentage. His 74-38-3 career record gives him a winning percentage of .656. Only two current Big 12 coaches rank higher than Pinkel, R.C. Slocum at Texas A&M (6th, .756) and Bill Snyder at Kansas State (10th, .697).

Head Coach Gary Pinkel makes his Big 12 Conference debut this Saturday against Nebraska. Pinkel is 0-1 in his career against Big 12 opponents. His first career game as head coach at Toledo was against Kansas in 1991. The Jayhawks defeated Pinkel's Toledo Rockets by a score of 30-7.

Nebraska enters Saturday's game ranked No. 4 in the country in both the ESPN/USA Today and Associated Press polls. The Huskers defeated Rice University last Thursday night in Lincoln by a score of 48-3. Nebraska enters Saturday's contest ranked No. 4 in the country in total defense. The Huskers have allowed just 219.0 yards per game. They rank 11th in rushing defense, allowing opponents just 67.5 yards on the ground. Nebraska's offense is led by senior quarterback Eric Crouch, who rushed for 110 yards and threw for 173 yards against Missouri last season. Crouch accounted for five Nebraska touchdowns against Rice, rushing for two and throwing for three. Crouch has accounted for eight Nebraska touchdowns this season. He is averaging 61.2 yards per carry and 128 yards in the air. Running back Dahrran Diedrick enters Saturday's game ranked 12th in the nation in rushing. He is averaging 128 yards per game and has scored five touchdowns. Diedrick is also averaging 5.5 yards per carry.

Missouri quarterback Kirk Farmer threw for a career-high 214 yards and rushed for 83 yards while Justin Gage pulled in 5 receptions for 125 yards and a touchdown, but all of that was not enough as Nebraska defeated the Tigers by a score of 42-24 in Lincoln, Neb. Missouri drew first blood on a 1-yard TD run by Farmer, but Nebraska evened the score at 7-7 after the first quarter when Dan Alexander capped a Husker scoring drive with a 2-yard TD run. Nebraska used two big plays in the second quarter to open up a 21-7 lead. I-Back Correll Buckhalter took a swing pass from Eric Crouch 34 yards for a touchdown to give Nebraska a 14-7 lead. The final four minutes of the quarter ended in a scoring frenzy. The Huskers' Bobby Newcombe could have broken the backs of the Tigers with a 94-yard punt return for a touchdown to make it 21-7, but the Tigers answered when Farmer hooked up with Gage on a 48-yard scoring strike to bring Mizzou within a touchdown. Nebraska's quick-strike offense answered and with 1:05 left in the second period, Jon Bowling scored on a 13-yard TD pass from Crouch to give the Huskers a 28-14 halftime lead. Missouri opened the third quarter with a scoring drive, capped off by a 13-yard TD scamper by Zack Abron to cut the Husker lead to 28-21. After Mizzou held Nebraska, the Huskers benefited from a costly Missouri mistake when Jamie Burrow scooped up a Mizzou fumble and ran it back 28 yards to up the Nebraska lead to 35-21. Brad Hammerich's 27-yard field goal with 4:59 left in the third quarter brought the Tigers back to 35-24, but Missouri lost their quarterback, Kirk Farmer, on that scoring drive. Farmer broke his clavicle following a long scramble, an injury that would sideline him for the rest of the season. Nebraska scored the lone touchdown of the fourth quarter, and despite a galant effort by Tiger back-up QB Darius Outlaw, Missouri could not get into the end zone.

The Missouri Tigers used two safeties, two blocked kicks, a solid running game and excellent defensive play to earn their first victory of the season against Southwest Texas. Missouri's 40-6 victory over the Bobcats was its' first under new head coach Gary Pinkel. The Tigers were led by junior running back Zack Abron who rolled up a career-high 108 yards on the ground and scored two touchdowns. Freshman tailback Tyrone Roberson made his collegiate debut and rushed for 74 yards on 13 carries. Junior wide receiver Justin Gage also scored two touchdowns for the Tigers, one on an 8-yard TD reception from quarterback Kirk Farmer, the other on a blocked punt return. With 9:20 to go in the game, sophomore cornerback Michael Harden came off of the edge and blocked the Southwest Texas punt attempt. Gage scooped up the ball and sprinted 18 yards into the end zone. The Tigers' first safety of the game occurred on a botched punt by the Bobcats in the first quarter. The snap went over SWT punter Marvin McCurry's head and ended up in the end zone. McCurry recovered the errant snap and punted the ball on the run from the end zone. The low punt deflected off of Missouri's David Monroe and back into the hands of McCurry who was tackled in the end zone by the Tigers' Gary Anthony for the safety. The second safety occurred in the second quarter when Missouri defensive tackle Cedric Harden tackled SWT running back Lee Davis is the end zone. Harden also recorded his second blocked PAT of the season. The Missouri defense held the Bobcats to 116 yards of total offense, including just 23 yards rushing. In the previous week, Southwest Texas rushed for 405 yards against Arkansas-Monticello.

The Missouri Tigers will make their 20th appearance on the Big 12 Package this Saturday against Nebraska. This will make the fifth straight season that the game has been picked selected for TV. The Tigers are 6-13 all-time on Fox Sports Net. The Tigers hope to break through in the 11:30 a.m. time slot this week. The broadcast talent of Drew Goodman (play-by-play), Dave Lapham (color) and Jim Knox (sidelines) have called several great games involving Mizzou in the last few years. In 1998, the Tigers came within a touchdown of upsetting Nebraska in Lincoln and were within a field goal of taking down Texas A&M, both on the road in 11:30 a.m. starts. In 1999, the Tigers lost an overtime thriller to Colorado, 46-39 in the early game. Last year in the season finale, Kansas State barely got out of Columbia with a 28-24 victory.

Due to the attack on the United States on Sept. 11, the Missouri Tigers have reshuffled their schedule. The Tigers will makeup their game with Michigan State in East Lansing, Mich. on Saturday, Dec. 1. Missouri has also moved its' game against Kansas State to Nov. 24 to accomodate the Wildcats who will play Louisiana Tech on Nov. 17, the original date for the MU-KSU game. The last time Missouri had a football game postponed or cancelled was back in 1918. The entire season was cancelled due to an influenza epidemic.

The experience on the defensive side of the football is talented. Five returning defensive players have been All-Big 12 selections. Both linebackers, Jamonte Robinson and Sean Doyle, have been honorable mention All-Big 12 picks. Defensive backs Antoine Duncan and Clarence Jones were honorable mention All-Big 12 selections last season and junior defensive tackle Cedric Harden has also been an All-Big 12 pick.

The Missouri defense allowed just 116 yards in total offense against Southwest Texas. That is the lowest output by a Missouri opponent since Sept. 5, 1998 when the Tigers held Bowling Green to just 93 yards in total offense.

The Missouri defense enters Saturday's game ranked 7th in the country in total defense. In its' first two games, the Tiger defense has allowed an average of 229 yards per game. Missouri is also ranked 7th in the nation in pass defense. Tiger opponents are averaging only 120 yards through the air per game.

Missouri's defensive front four had a tremendous game against Southwest Texas. Defensive ends Antwaun Bynum and Dan Davis each recorded their first career quarterback sack. Defensive tackle Keith Wright not only posted his first quarterback sack, he also had an interception off of a deflection. Fellow defensive tackle, Cedric Harden, also had a quarterback sack for the Tigers.

Junior wide receiver Justin Gage is Missouri's best offensive weapon. Gage is off to a very good start. He has recorded 13 receptions for 143 yards and a touchdown. Gage has scored two touchdowns on the season, the other coming on an 18-yard blocked punt return. His 9 receptions in the season opener vs. Bowling Green were a career-high. Playing wide receiver for the first time in his life last season, Gage earned honorable mention All-Big 12 honors and was the MU offensive MVP. His 44 receptions ranked 10th among Missouri single-season leaders. His 709 receiving yards was seventh-best in school history. The 6-4, 208-pounder is perhaps the Tigers' best overall athlete. A former quarterback, Gage has completed 16 passes in his career, two of them for touchdowns. Gage has also been a key reserve each of last two seasons for Quin Snyder's basketball team.

Sophomore center A.J. Ricker is among 21 players in the nation on the Rimington Trophy "watch list." The Rimington Trophy is awarded to the best offensive center in college football, and is presented by the Boomer Esiason Foundation. The Klein, Texas native started all 11 games as a redshirt freshman last year. He snapped the ball 654 times without committing a single penalty. He recorded 45 knockdowns and allowed just seven hits on the Tigers quarterbacks.

Freshman tailback Tyrone Roberson made his collegiate debut against Southwest Texas. Roberson carried the ball 13 times for 74 yards, averaging 5.7 yards per carry. Roberson's speed looks to be a positive addition to the Tigers' offense. The Missouri backfield looks to have a solid one-two punch with the power of Zack Abron and the speed of Roberson. The duo combined for 180 yards on the ground against Southwest Texas.

Three Missouri Tigers were named preseason honorable mention All-Americans by Street & Smith's. Wide Receiver Justin Gage, offensive guard Mike Hayes and linebacker Sean Doyle were all recognized by Street & Smith's. Hayes was also named to The Sporting News "All-Underrated Team."

Senior linebacker Jamonte Robinson is climbing the career tackles chart at the University of Missouri. The St. Petersburg, Fla., native has 289 career tackles, ranking him 11th in school history. Robinson needs 11 tackles to become the 10th player in school history to record 300 tackles. With six tackles on Saturday against Nebraska, Robinson will move into the top 10 all-time at Missouri. He needs 57 tackles to crack Missouri's all-time top-five.

Senior kicker Brad Hammerich is off to a great start in 2001. The Chesterfield, Mo., native connected on field goal attempts of 30 and 51 yards, improving his already impressive career numbers. Hammerich is 45-of-46 in his career in PAT attempts. He is 18-for-26 in field goal tries. Just one of those missed field goals has come on attempts of under 40 yards. He is 11-of-12 from inside 40 yards in his career and 7-of-14 from beyond 40 yards. Hammerich has a big-time leg, evident by a 56-yard field goal in the Black and Gold Game in the spring. His 51-yard field goal in the season opener against Bowling Green was the longest of his career.

Junior linebacker Sean Doyle racked up 17 tackles in the season opener against Bowling Green, equaling his career-high. It was the fifth time that Doyle has recorded double digit tackles. It was also the third time that Doyle has posted 15 or more tackles in a single game. Last year against Kansas, the Rockhurst High School graduate had 17 tackles. In his first career start in 1999, Doyle posted 15 tackles against Texas A&M.

The Missouri Tigers have blocked two PATs and one punt. The two blocked PATs belong to junior defensive tackle Cedric Harden, giving him four blocks for his career. The Missouri blocked punt was by sophomore cornerback Michael Harden. No relation to Cedric, Harden's blocked punt resulted in an 18-yard touchdown return by Justin Gage.

Sophomore Marcus James enters Saturday's game against Nebraska ranked 20th in the country in punt returns. James is averaging 13.2 yards per return. He took over punt return duties midway through the 2000 season. He averaged 5.9 yards per return last season.

Junior R-back Joe Chirumbolo earned the nickname "Touchdown Joe" two years ago after catching three touchdown passes as a fullback and rushing for another. It seems like every time Chirumbolo touches the ball, good things happen. "Touchdown Joe" is back in 2001. He has three receptions on the season, two of them are touchdowns. Against Bowling Green. Chirumbolo capped a 15-play, 80-yard drive with a two-yard touchdown reception in the corner of the end zone for the Tigers' first touchdown of the season. Against Southwest Texas, Chirumbolo pulled in a nine-yard touchdown pass from Darius Outlaw.

Six seniors were voted captains by their teammates in the spring for 2001 season.



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