Tigers Headed to Sunshine State

Andrew Wilson leads the nation in forced fumbles, with three.

Andrew Wilson leads the nation in forced fumbles, with three.

Sept. 24, 2012

Missouri Tigers (2-2) at Central Florida Knights (2-1)

KICKOFF: 11:05 a.m. CDT.

STADIUM: Bright House Networks Stadium (45,323 - Natural Grass). Opened in 2007. UCF is 25-9 there alltime (1-0 in 2012), and they are 17-4 there since 2009.

RADIO: Tiger Network. Mike Kelly (play-by-play), Howard Richards (color), Chris Gervino (sidelines), Scotty Cox (producer), Matt Winegardner (director). Carried on over 50 stations across the Midwest, and on the Internet at mutigers.tv.
   The game will also be available on satellite radio (Sirius 113 & XM 199).

TV: FOX Sports Net. Ron Thulin (play-by-play), Shaun King (analyst), Desmond Purnell (sideline reporter), Kevin Patterson (producer).

   MU - None.
   UCF - None.

SERIES: This will be the first meeting between the schools.

   MU: Gary Pinkel (Kent, '75), 87-56 at MU (12th year) and 160-93-3 overall (22nd year). Pinkel is 0-0 vs. UCF and George O'Leary.
   UCF: George O'Leary (New Hampshire, '69), 52-52 at UCF (9th year) and 104-85 overall (16th year). O'Leary is 0-0 vs. MU and Gary Pinkel.

   The Missouri Tigers (2-2 overall in 2012) will hit the road for a second-straight week when they visit Orlando, Fla. - the home of Walt Disney World (whose namesake, Walt Disney, was a Marceline, Mo. native by the way), for a Saturday contest against the Central Florida Knights (2-1). Kickoff for the game is set for 11 a.m. central/12 p.m. eastern time, and it will be televised live by FOX Sports Net.
Mizzou won't have time to hit the amusement park, of course, as they're dialing in for a tough opponent on Saturday who will be sky high about hosting an SEC team for the first time in program history. The Tigers are also focused on correcting mistakes which led to a 31-10 loss last Saturday at 7th-ranked South Carolina.
   Central Florida is coming off a bye-week which followed a 33-20 home win on Sept. 15th over Florida International. In that game, the Knights held a 23-0 halftime lead and cruised from there. The week prior, UCF played at 14th-ranked Ohio State, and stood tied with Buckeyes at 10-10 in the 2nd quarter, before OSU pulled away with 21 straight points on the way to a 31-16 win. The Knights opened their 2012 season with a 56-14 road win at Akron, thanks to a 28-point 2nd quarter and 4 forced turnovers.

   In what is surely just a scheduling oddity, the Central Florida game will mark the first of three straight opponents Mizzou will face who will play the Tigers after coming off of a bye week. UCF was off last week prior to this Saturday's game in Orlando, Fla.
   Following that, Mizzou will return home for an Oct. 6th game against Vanderbilt. The Commodores played this past Saturday at Georgia (a 48-3 loss), but are off this Saturday. Similarly, Mizzou will play host to #1-ranked Alabama the following week (Oct. 13th), and as if the Crimson Tide wasn't strong enough on their own, 'Bama will roll into Columbia with a full week of rest. Alabama plays at home against Ole Miss this Saturday and is off on Oct. 6th.
   Only Hurricane Isaac prevented what would have been a fourth 2012 Mizzou opponent from facing MU after a bye week. Texas A&M was originally scheduled to host Mizzou on Nov. 24th after a bye week, but when Hurricane Isaac forced a postponement of the Aggies' 2012 season opener on Sept. 1st against Sam Houston State, that game was rescheduled for Nov. 17th.

Season Date Result Next Game Result
2012 Sept. 8 L vs. #7 Georgia W vs. Arizona State
2011 Nov. 5 L at Baylor W vs. #21 Texas
2011 Oct. 22 L at #6 Oklahoma State W at #16 Texas A&M
2011 Oct. 8 L at #20 Kansas State W vs. Iowa State
2011 Sept. 24 L at #1 Oklahoma L at #20 Kansas State
2011 Sept. 9 L at Arizona State W vs. Western Illinois
2010 Nov. 6 L at Texas Tech W vs. Kansas State

   If recent history is any indicator, then the Mizzou Tigers hope history repeats itself this Saturday. Of late, Mizzou has proven very resilient, and shown a key ability to avoid losing streaks. The Tigers have won four straight times (and 6 out of the last 7 times dating back to the 2010 season) following a defeat. That ability to get quickly back in the winners circle played a huge role in Mizzou's 8-5 season a year ago, as the Tigers rebounded to post wins four times after suffering a defeat. The only time they fell in 2011 on consecutive weeks was in two straight road games at #1 Oklahoma (38-28) and at #20 Kansas State (24-17).
   At right is a look at Mizzou's recent history following a defeat.

COLUMBIA, S.C. - A huge field position disadvantage spelled too much to overcome, as the Missouri Tigers fell Saturday at 7th-ranked South Carolina, 31-10, to drop to 2-2 on the season, and 0-2 in SEC play.
   The Gamecocks had seven first-half possessions, and four of them started at midfield or better, including three in the second quarter that they cashed in for touchdowns and a 21-3 halftime lead.
   South Carolina QB Connor Shaw was virtually flawless, as he completed 20-of-21 passes for 249 yards and a touchdown, while the stout Gamecock defense held Mizzou to just 255 yards of offense, and kept the Tigers out of the endzone until just :17 seconds remained in the game, when backup QB Corbin Berkstresser hit WR Marcus Lucas on a 1-yard touchdown pass.
   Mizzou's defense staved off the first threat of the day, as Sheldon Richardson forced a fumble that Kenronte Walker covered on the Tiger 16-yardline in the first quarter. But the Tiger offense couldn't get any momentum going, running just 9 plays in the quarter, which ended in a scoreless tie.
   The second quarter began with Mizzou's defense holding one more time with its backs against the wall. South Carolina had a 3rd-and-goal from the Tiger 1-yardline, but LB Donovan Bonner stopped Gamecock QB Connor Shaw for no gain, and on 4th-and-goal, Shaw was dropped for a loss of one yard by DE Kony Ealy.
   A three-and-out ensued, however, and SC's Ace Sanders broke several tackles on a 49-yard punt return which took the ball to the Tiger 4-yardline. Two plays later, RB Marcus Lattimore scored from 2 yards out for a 7-0 Gamecock lead at the 11:08 mark. Less than one minute later, it stood 14-0, as South Carolina knocked the ball out of freshman TB Russell Hansbrough's grasp, with the Gamecocks recovering on the Tiger 37-yardline. A 36-yard pass on the first play took it to the Mizzou 1-yardline, and Lattimore plunged in for his second short TD run.
   Mizzou quickened the pace offensively, going to its fastball attack, and finally got some traction. Late in the quarter, the Tigers drove from their 20-yardline to a 1st-and-goal at the Carolina 3. But the drive stalled, and MU had to settle for a 22-yard field goal by Andrew Baggett with just 1:20 left.
   Just when it seemed like the Tigers had some momentum, a big special teams play by South Carolina struck again, as SC's Bruce Ellington returned the ensuing kickoff 50 yards to midfield. The Gamecocks converted the opportunity, as Shaw hit Sanders on a 23-yard TD pass with :24 seconds left for a deflating score which made it 21-3 at half.
   Mizzou's offense started the second half slow, and eventually it was field position that proved troublesome again, as South Carolina took over midway through the quarter after a punt at the Tiger 47-yardline. Shaw led a 10-play drive which ended in his 2nd TD pass of the day and a 28-3 lead with 2:17 left in the third.
   The Tigers drove to the Carolina 31-yardline early in the fourth quarter, but a 4th-and-1 attempt went awry when QB James Franklin bobbled the snap and got stuffed for no gain. The Gamecocks drove the other way for a field goal and a 31-3 lead.
   With the outcome in hand, redshirt freshman QB Corbin Berkstresser came off the bench for MU's last drive, and he promptly led the Tigers downfield on an 11-play, 75-yard drive which ended in his 1-yard TD pass to WR Marcus Lucas (who ended with a career-high 9 catches for 78 yards) with :17 seconds left to account for the final score.
   South Carolina's five scoring drives on the day covered only 4, 37, 50, 47, and 48 yards.

   According to the NCAA, there's not a team in the nation who has played as tough of an early-season schedule as the Missouri Tigers. When factoring in FBS opponents only, (and not including games against itself) Mizzou's 3 foes (Georgia, Arizona State, South Carolina) are a perfect 8-0. According to the NCAA measurements, Mizzou's future opponents have a combined record of 14-12.

   It's certainly only one facet of the game, but it's been a very key factor in Mizzou's last three games - field position. There has been a very distinct winner in the field position battle in the last three games, and the team which won that battle has gone on to win the game. Seven of MU's opponent's last nine TD drives have started at midfield or in Tiger territory, dating back to the Georgia game (4 by South Carolina, 1 by Arizona State, 2 by Georgia).
   Of those last nine TD drives by Tiger opponents, their average starting point is the Mizzou 33-yardline. The breakdown includes: South Carolina's four TD drives started at the MU 4, 37, 50 and 47. Arizona State's three TD drives started at the ASU 41, the MU 36 and the ASU 34. Prior to that, Georgia's last two TD drives of the game started on the MU 5 and the MU 1 (after an interception and fumble, respectively).
   Each of #7 South Carolina's four TD drives last Saturday started at midfield or better, including at the Tiger 4, 37, 50 and 47 yardlines. By contrast, Mizzou's first three drives of the game started at its own 14, 16 and 2 yardlines. The Tiger offense struggled against the stout Carolina defense to flip the field, and while the first quarter ended up scoreless thanks to a some great defensive play by Mizzou, the dam broke in the second quarter, when SC's average starting point on four possessions was the Mizzou 39-yardline (while Mizzou's was its own 17).
   In its previous outing, Mizzou won the field position battle against Arizona State, as it converted five drives which began at midfield or better into 21 points, while the Sun Devils had only two drives start at midfield or better (turning those into 7 points).
   The previous week saw Georgia own the high land, as the Bulldogs scored 20 of their 41 points off of five possessions which started at midfield or better, while the Tigers had only two drives start at midfield or better, and they were able to convert those into just three points.

   Junior DT Sheldon Richardson was already playing at a high level this season, but he seemingly took his game to another level the last couple of weeks. Richardson was a disruptive force last Saturday at South Carolina, as he was in on virtually every defensive play in the 1st quarter. First, he had a QB hurry which forced what proved to be the only pass incompletion of the day by Carolina's Connor Shaw. Then he sacked Shaw, and on the very next play forced a fumble after a completed pass to give the Tigers the ball back on their own 16-yardline. He added another tackle in the quarter, and ended the day with a 7-tackle outing.
   That was a follow-up performance to a big game Richardson had the previous week against Arizona State, when he was a big part of Mizzou's solid defensive effort in a 24-20 win over the Sun Devils. In that game, Richardson notched a career-high 9 tackles, with 1.5 tackles for loss and a half-QB sack thrown in the mix, to go with 1 QB hurry as well on a night when it seemed he was either in on, or influenced every play.
   Mizzou's defense held Arizona State to 236 yards and 34 points below their average offensive output, as the Sun Devils entered the game averaging 532.0 yards and 54.0 points a contest. Richardson's effort was a big reason why the Tigers held ASU to just 296 yards of total offense and 20 points.
   With 24 tackles through 4 games, Richardson is amazingly Mizzou's 2nd-leading tackler, despite being a defensive tackle. He also ranks 1st in the SEC among defensive linemen, with Damontre Moore of Texas A&M having the next most (22 tackles in 3 games).

1. Andrew Wilson, Mizzou 1.00
  Jarvis Jones, Georgia 1.00
  Nate Smith, Temple 1.00
4. Adam Davis, Kansas St. 0.75
  Calvin Pryor, Louisville 0.75
  Damon Ogburn, San Jose St. 0.75
  Donovan Bonner, Mizzou 0.75

   Take a poll among members of the Missouri Tiger team, and you'll likely get a near unanimous vote that says junior LB Andrew Wilson is the hardest hitter on the team. Wilson has been especially good at popping the ball loose against opposing ball carriers, as he has forced a fumble in each of Mizzou's first four games of the 2012 season, and his per-game average of 1.00 forced fumbles per game is currently tied for tops in the nation. Here's a look at that category at right.
   Dating back to last season, Wilson has now forced a fumble in five consecutive games. He's coming off a 4-tackle outing at #7 South Carolina, which included a half-QB sack to go with his fumble. Through 4 games, Wilson ranks 3rd on the squad with 22 tackles.
   Against Arizona State, Wilson tied for the team lead with 9 tackles, including 8 of the solo variety. He also forced a fumble which was recovered by the Tigers. Wilson, who was MU's leading tackler in 2011 (98 tackles in 13 games), is the son of former Tiger standout LB Jay Wilson, who lettered from 1980-83 (All-Big Eight in '83), and who left MU holding the school's career tackles record, with 323 (he now ranks 12th on the list).

   Some random news and notes to catch you up on Tiger Football:

  • Junior WR Marcus Lucas leads the Tigers with 21 receptions, 222 yards and 2 receiving touchdowns so far in 2012. That's no big surprise for those who follow the program, as many expected the 6-foot-5, 215-pound receiver to have the potential for a breakout year. He showed in 2011, when he caught 23 passes for 414 yards and 5 TDs, that he had the ability to be an impact player. Lucas, whose mother Monique, was a women's basketball letterwinner at Mizzou from 1986-89, was one of the bright spots in a tough offensive day last Saturday in MU's 31-10 loss at #7 South Carolina. Lucas led the team with a career-high 8 catches for 69 yards and a TD which came from 1-yard out with :17 seconds left in the game for MU's sole TD. Lucas enters play this Saturday ranked 5th in the SEC with his 5.50 receptions per game average…
  • Senior TB Kendial Lawrence didn't post eye-popping numbers at South Carolina, but his 67 yards rushing on 11 carries (6.1 average) wasn't bad at all, considering the fact that the Gamecocks came into the game allowing just 1.6 yards per rush. Carolina ranked 5th nationally in rushing defense coming into the game, having allowed a total of 159 yards on 102 carries, for an average of just 53.00 rushing yards per game. The Tigers didn't run roughshod exactly, but still managed to more than double that average output, as they gained 109 net yards on 32 carries (3.4 avg.). Lawrence had a 28-yard run on the day which was a season long against Carolina. Through 4 games, Lawrence leads MU with 291 rushing yards on 45 carries (for a solid per-carry average of 6.5 yards) and 4 TDs…
  • Mizzou won the turnover battle by a 2-1 margin at South Carolina. The Tiger defense forced 2 Gamecock fumbles, recovering them both (and the offense had only one giveaway), and Mizzou now boasts a turnover margin ratio of +1.75 per game, which ranks them 3rd in the SEC and 11th in the nation…
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 87 11 (2001-Present) 87-56 .608 8
Warren Powers 46 7 (1978-84) 46-33-3 .580 5

   Mizzou Head Coach Gary Pinkel is in his 12th season at MU (22nd overall as a head coach) and touts a career record of 160-93-3 (63.1%).
   Pinkel, who has led MU to a combined record of 65-31 (67.7%) over the past 7+ seasons, and to bowl games in 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010 and 2011, has a 12-year record in Columbia of 87-56 (60.8%). Dating back to the 2005 Independence Bowl win over Steve Spurrier and South Carolina, Pinkel has gone 59-26 in his last 85 games overall (69.4%). 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 87. The win over Kansas in 2010 was the 150th of his career.
   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.
   In 2007, Pinkel guided the Tigers from unranked in the pre-season to a team which won a school-record 12 games and a final ranking of #4 in the Associated Press Top-25. Mizzou ascended to #1 in the BCS rankings following the regular season, and stood just one half away from playing in the BCS National Championship Game (before Oklahoma pulled away from a halftime tie to win the Big 12 title game). For his 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, and his 7 bowl games is an MU record.
   Pinkel has directed Mizzou to 8 winning seasons (8-5 in 2003, 7-5 in 2005, 8-5 in 2006, 12-2 in 2007, 10-4 in 2008, 8-5 in 2009, 10-3 in 2010 and 8-5 in 2011), with those representing 8 of MU's 10 winning campaigns dating back to the 1983 season.
   The Big 12 North Division titles won by Mizzou in 2007, 2008 and 2010 represent the only football conference titles of any kind Mizzou has won since 1969 – the last time it claimed a share of the old Big Eight Conference crown. In April of 2011, Pinkel agreed to a two-year contract extension, meaning he'll patrol the Tiger sidelines through the 2017 season.



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