Tigers Return to the Heart of Texas For North-South Battle With Baylor

MUTIGERS.COM Stryker Sulak forced his NCAA-leading fifth fumble on Saturday vs. Colorado.
Stryker Sulak forced his NCAA-leading fifth fumble on Saturday vs. Colorado.

Oct. 27, 2008

#14/14 Missouri Tigers (6-2, 2-2)
at Baylor Bears (3-5, 1-3)
Nov. 1, 2008 – Floyd Casey Stadium – Waco, Texas

Game Central

   The Missouri Tigers (6-2 overall, 2-2 in Big 12 Conference play) take a trip to deep in the heart of Texas, as they return to the Lone Star State for the second straight road game to take on the Baylor Bears (3-5, 1-3). Kickoff for the game in Waco, Texas is set for 2 p.m. Saturday, with no television scheduled for the game.
   Mizzou is looking to continue the momentum established from its 58-0 pasting of Colorado last week in Columbia for Homecoming. The win broke a brief two-game losing streak for the Tigers, and re-energized MU into the thick of the Big 12 North Division race. After the win, Mizzou stands in a three-way tie for first in the division, along with rivals Kansas (5-3, 2-2) and Nebraska (5-3, 2-2).
   The shutout win was the first for MU since joining the Big 12 Conference in 1996, and it was the first shutout of a conference opponent by MU since 1986 against Kansas (W, 48-0). It was Mizzou’s first shutout of any kind since blanking Ball State by a 48-0 count in 2004.
   Baylor is looking to break a two-game losing streak on Saturday, as the Bears come into the game having dropped a hardfought 32-20 game at Nebraska last weekend in a game that BU led, 20-17 at halftime in Lincoln. Prior to that, Baylor dropped a 34-6 decision at then-#8 Oklahoma State, after earning its first conference win of the season on Oct. 11th in Waco against Iowa State (38-10).
   The Bears are led by freshman dual-threat QB Robert Griffin, who has thrown for 1,405 yards and 9 TDs, while adding a team-best 554 rushing yards and 9 TDs on the ground. He has not thrown an interception this season, while he’s attempted 175 passes so far.
   Baylor has played tough at home in 2008, as the Bears stand 3-2 at Floyd Casey Stadium on the year. The trio of wins came over Northwestern State (W, 51-6), Washington State (W, 45-17) and Iowa State (W, 38-10), while their only home losses this year were to a pair of ranked teams in then-#23 Wake Forest (L, 41-13) and to then-#1 Oklahoma (L, 49-17).



   From day one of his tenure at Missouri, Head Coach Gary Pinkel identified the state of Texas as a recruiting priority. Over the years, the Tigers have mined the state for athletes who developed into All-Big 12 honorees, including the likes of MU’s alltime career QB sacks leader, Brian Smith, as well as 2006 1st-Team All-Big 12 LB Marcus Bacon, in addition to other standouts such as David Overstreet, Jason Simpson, Shirdonya Mitchell, and Marcus King, among others.
   Mizzou features 28 Texas natives on its roster in 2008, including six projected starters, in QB Chase Daniel (Southlake), LB Sean Weatherspoon (Jasper), DE Stryker Sulak (Rockdale), DT Ziggy Hood (Amarillo), DE Tommy Chavis (Orange) and WR Jared Perry (La Marque). Add to that mix some key reserves such as WR Danario Alexander (Marlin), WR Earl Goldsmith (Denton), S Del Howard (Dallas) and CB Kevin Rutland (Houston) and there’s quite a flavor of Texans on the field at any time for the Tigers.
   In addition, five of Mizzou’s 10 true freshmen who have seen the field in 2008 are from the Lone Star State, including LB Will Ebner (Friendswood), TE Michael Egnew (Plainview), WR Jerrell Jackson (Houston), DB Kenji Jackson (Mansfield) and DE Jacquies Smith (Dallas)

KICKOFF: 2:05 p.m. (central time).

STADIUM: Floyd Casey Stadium (50,000 – Prestige artificial surface). Opened in 1950. MU is 3-1 in Floyd Casey Stadium, winning its last 3 trips there by scores of 30-10 (2004), 47-22 (2000) and 49-42 (1996 in 3-OT).

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.
   Satellite radio owners may also find the game on Sirius (channel 121). The Baylor game is not available on XM.

TV: None.

   MU – #14.
   BU – none/none.

SERIES: Mizzou leads, 9-2 overall, and has won 6 straight, including all 6 meetings since the formation of the Big 12 Conference in 1996.

   MU: Gary Pinkel (Kent, ‘75), 55-39 at MU (8th year) and 128-76-3 overall (18th year). Pinkel is 3-0 vs. BU and 0-0 vs. Art Briles.
   BU: Art Briles (Texas Tech, ‘79), 3-5 at BU (1st year) and 37-33 overall (6th year). Briles is 0-0 vs. Gary Pinkel and MU.

   Mizzou and Baylor have met just 11 times in their histories, with the Tigers holding a solid 9-2 edge coming into Saturday’s matchup in Waco, Texas. Mizzou has won all 6 meetings since the formation of the Big 12 Conference in 1996, with the only game in that stretch decided by fewer than 15 points coming in the first year of the league, when the Tigers took a 49-42 triple-overtime thriller from the Bears in Waco. The five games since have been won by the Tigers by margins of 18 points (42-24 in 1997), 25 (47-22 in 2000), 17 (41-24 in 2001), 20 (30-10 in 2004) and 15 (31-16 in 2005).
   Mizzou is 3-1 alltime in Baylor’s Floyd Casey Stadium, with the only other appearance coming in 1991, when the Bears took a 47-21 decision that marks BU’s last win in the series.
   In Mizzou’s last appearance in Waco, the Tigers claimed a 30-10 win to move to 4-1 on the year in 2004. Brad Smith threw for 151 yards and 3 TDs on the night in a game that didn’t start until after 9:30 p.m. central time in order to accommodate a Fox Sports Net telecast. Mizzou held a 6-3 lead late in the 2nd quarter, until Smith broke through with a 7-yard TD pass to TE Martin Rucker just before half, and opened the 3rd with another scoring strike to Rucker - this one from 17 yards - to extend the Tiger lead to 20-3. Mizzou would score 10 more consecutive points to put the game out of reach before Baylor added a late TD to account for the final score. Smith ended the night 13-of-27 passing for the 151 yards and 3 TDs, while the late Damien Nash led MU in rushing, with 87 yards on 27 carries. Sean Coffey had 3 receptions for 50 yards and 1 TD, while Rucker ended the night with 3 catches for 34 yards and 2 scores. Mizzou’s defense held Baylor to just 173 yards of total offense, while the Tiger offense managed only 327 yards on the night, but it was enough as MU enjoyed a turnover margin of plus-4 in the game, gaining a pair of Bear fumbles and interceptions each while not turning the ball over once itself.
   Unfortunately for MU, that was its final win prior to a 5-game losing streak that knocked the Tigers out of running for a bowl game, and MU ended the year with a 17-14 overtime win at Iowa State to close with a 5-6 overall record.

   A couple of coaches currently on Baylor Coach Art Briles’ staff have ties to Mizzou. Larry Hoefer, currently Briles’ linebacker coach (and in his 6th year overall at Baylor since landing there in 2003), served as an assistant coach at MU from 1989-93 under former Tiger skipper Bob Stull.
   Additionally, Kim McCloud, who is in his first year at Baylor in 2008 as secondary coach, served as a graduate assistant coach for the late Larry Smith at Mizzou in 1997, and was part of that Tiger team which went 7-4 in the regular season and reached the school’s first bowl game since 1983, with an appearance in the 1997 Holiday Bowl.

   Coming off of consecutive losses and hungry to redeem itself, the 16th-ranked Missouri Tigers took out their frustrations, and then some, against the compliant Colorado Buffaloes Saturday night in Columbia, to the tune of 58-0. The shutout marked the first time they held a Big 12 opponent scoreless and was the first shutout win against a conference foe for MU since blanking Kansas in 1986 (W, 48-0).
   The Tigers scored on 9-of-11 possessions with the #1 offense on the field, and tacked on a late TD by the reserves on a long run in the final 5 minutes to mark the largest win ever for Missouri in Conference play. Heisman hopeful QB Chase Daniel was on fire from the start, as he completed his first 13 passes of the night and ended 31-of-37 passing for 302 yards and a school-record tying 5 TDs.
Daniel’s main accomplices were the usual suspects, in WR Jeremy Maclin (11 receptions, 134 yards, 2 TDs) and TE Chase Coffman (7 catches, 50 yards, 1 TD), while TB Derrick Washington got untracked after being held in check in the ground game the previous two weeks, as he contributed 83 rushing yards and 1 TD on 17 tries (4.9 avg.).
   Coffman broke an NCAA record for career receptions by a TE in the game, as he entered with an MU-record 213 catches. His 7-catch night moved him past Louisville’s Ibn Green, who held the record with 217 grabs from 1996-99. One of Coffman’s catches was one of his countless highlight-reel catches that capped MU’s 2nd possession, when he made a leaping, one-handed grab while falling out of the back of the endzone on a 3rd-and-1 play to give the Tigers a 14-0 lead.
   The Tigers took the opening kickoff and promptly marched 56 yards in just 4 plays, taking just 1:09 off the clock as Washington capped the drive with a 3-yard TD run, his 13th of the year. After CU went 3-and-out on its ensuing drive, disaster struck for the Buffs as punter Tom Suazo mishandled the snap and was tackled while trying to scramble on his own 5-yardline, setting up Coffman’s heroics as the Tigers grew the lead. After the Tiger defense forced a second successive 3-and-out, Daniel led a 13-play, 55-yard drive that culminated with a 3-yard TD pass to Maclin, and with 3:20 left in the 1st quarter, it was 21-0 Tigers.
   As impressive as the Tiger offense was, the story of the night was Mizzou’s defense, which was coming off a tough game at #1 Texas, where they allowed 56 points - the most ever allowed by a Gary Pinkel Tiger team. They made up for that in a hurry as they constantly harrassed a pair of CU quarterbacks and never allowed the Buffaloes to get any traction offensively. The Buffs ended the night with just 199 yards of total offense, and didn’t have positive yards until midway through the 2nd quarter.
   A pair of Jeff Wolfert field goals (23 and 44 yards) followed a Tommy Saunders 10-yard TD catch-and-run in the 2nd quarter, as Mizzou took a 34-0 lead into halftime. The Buffaloes sustained their first drive of the game to open the 3rd quarter, only to have it snuffed out on an incomplete 4th-down pass attempt on the Tiger 17-yardline. Mizzou would answer by getting TD passes of 4-yards and 30-yards in the 3rd quarter from Daniel to Danario Alexander and Maclin, respectively, as the bulge grew to 48-0.
   The defense kept its shutout alive as the Tigers added a 46-yard field goal early in the 4th by Wolfert. Even when the offense was not in scoring mode, it still did so, as reserve TB De’Vion Moore took a handoff and burst untouched 55 yards for his first career TD with 4:45 left to account for the final score.
   Mizzou’s defense then permitted the Buffaloes to drive in the waning seconds to its 9-yardline before time ran out. The Buffaloes admirably eschewed a cheap field goal attempt just to avoid the shutout, which broke a string of 242 consecutive games in which CU had scored, dating back to their last shutout loss (1988 against Nebraska).

   Mizzou’s defense got tired last Saturday about taking a back seat to its offensive counterparts, and did something about it on the field against Colorado. The result was MU’s first shutout since 2004 (48-0 vs. Ball State), and the school’s first shutout of any conference foe since the Big Eight Conference days, when in 1986 the Tigers blanked rival Kansas, 48-0.
   Colorado wasn’t exactly known as an offensive juggernaut coming into last Saturday’s game, as the Buffaloes had scored only 14 points in each of their first three Big 12 games. But to expect Missouri to hold them to a season-low 199 yards of offense, especially after the Tigers had just permitted 591 yards at Texas a week ago, wasn’t on the minds of many folks coming into the game.
   But that’s exactly what the Tigers did as they stuffed the Buffaloes from the get-go. Colorado ran for 247 yards just one week before in its 14-13 home win over Kansas State, but this week, the Tiger defense was stingy, allowed an opponent season-low 41 yards on the ground on 35 attempts, while limited CU to 158 passing yards.
   Mizzou sacked CU quarterbacks 4 times on the night, led by DE Stryker Sulak’s 2 sacks (18 yards total). The Tiger defense held CU to just 4-of-16 on 3rd-down conversions, one game after allowing top-ranked Texas to convert on 10-of-12 3rd-down tries in its 56-31 loss at UT on Oct. 18th.
   The stout defensive effort was the stingiest for the Tigers since allowing just 196 yards of offense in 2007 to none other than – Colorado. Mizzou claimed a 55-10 win in Boulder in 2007, as it outgained the Buffaloes 598-to-196 in total offense on the night, meaning that in their last two games, MU has now outgained Colorado by a 1,089-to-395 margin, while outscoring the Buffs 113-to-10.
   Mizzou has also now scored 106 consecutive points against Colorado, as it closed the 2007 game by tallying the final 48 points, while scoring all 58 points put on the board last Saturday.

Margin Year First Game Next Week
125 pts 1986 Oklahoma 77, MU 0 MU 48, Kansas 0
87 pts 1944 Ohio State 54, MU 0 MU 33, Kansas St. 0
86 pts 1988 Miami, Fla. 55, MU 0 MU 52, Kansas St. 21
83 pts 2008 Texas 56, MU 31 MU 58, Colorado 0
72 pts 1990 Indiana 58, MU 7 MU 30, Arizona State 9

   Mizzou’s 58-0 pasting of Colorado not only represented MU’s largest margin of victory ever in conference play (previous record was a 57-0 win over Colorado in 1962), but it helped secure the school’s 4th-biggest single-game turn-around ever.
The 58-point win came on the heels of the previous week’s 25-point loss at Texas, marking an 83-point swing. Here’s a quick look at the Tigers’ biggest one-game turn-arounds…

(Through Games of Oct. 25th)
(Rank indicates NCAA ranking among all players)
Rank Player, School (Pos.) Rec. Yds. Avg. TDs YPG
2 James Casey, Rice 67 803 11.99 6 100.38
5 Chase Coffman, Mizzou 63 744 11.81 5 93.00
10 Mark Hafner, Houston 52 569 10.94 8 81.29
27 Dennis Pitta, BYU 50 645 12.90 4 80.63
52 Eddie Williams, Idaho 49 636 12.98 5 70.67
63 Shawn Nelson, Southern Miss 41 441 10.76 3 55.13
77 Branden Ledbetter, Western Michigan 38 385 10.13 5 48.13
77 D.J. Williams, Arkansas 38 444 11.68 2 55.50
97 John Phillips, Virginia 35 300 8.57 1 37.50
n/a Jermaine Gresham, Oklahoma 29 467 16.10 7 58.38

   Mizzou’s John Mackey Award candidate TE Chase Coffman had yet another performance for the record books last Saturday against Colorado, as he caught 7 passes for 50 yards and 1 TD (a ridiculous one-handed grab in the back of the end zone in the 1st quarter to make it 14-0 Tigers). While his numbers might not by eye-popping from the game, they certainly were historic in nature, as they gave him 220 career receptions, which makes him the NCAA’s career record holder for all Div. I-A (FBS) tight ends.
   The previous FBS record for catches by a tight end was 217, held by Louisville’s Ibn Green (1996-99). Coffman entered the CU game with 213 grabs (already an MU record for all players), and he quickly went to work, tying Green’s record by the end of the 1st quarter. The NCAA record-breaker came on a non-descript 4-yard reception from QB Chase Daniel in the 2nd quarter, but it was typical Coffman, as he made the grab in traffic on 3rd-and-1, and pushed the pile ahead for the first down that kept alive a drive that culminated in a TD to make it 28-0 Tigers.
   Coffman has 2,416 career receiving yards, which puts him in range of Green’s FBS TE record of 2,830. He also holds MU’s record for most receiving TDs (any position), with 25 entering the Baylor contest.
Prior to the CU game, Coffman turned in an All-American performance in MU’s loss at #1 Texas. The senior from Peculiar, Mo. caught 12 passes for 140 yards and 1 TD, and was seen breaking tackles, hurdling defenders and making difficult catches in traffic all night long. The receptions and yards marked a career high for Coffman, who also made history with his 3rd catch, which gave him the MU career record of 204, surpassing the previous mark of 203 formerly held by TE Martin Rucker (2004-07).
   Coffman has 30 catches for 294 yards and 2 TDs in his last 3 outings, after catching 11 passes for 104 yards against Oklahoma State three games ago. One of those grabs included a spectacular catch on MU’s opening drive where he leaped backwards near the left sideline to snare a ball out of the air with one hand and bring it in for the catch – all while the OSU covering him was being flagged for pass interference. The gain went for 21 yards and extended MU’s drive that resulted in a short field goal for a 3-0 lead.
   He now has 4 100-yard outings in 8 games in 2008, to match his 120-yard performance against Illinois and 127-yard day against Nevada already this year.
   Coffman is the NCAA Division I-A (FBS) active career leader for tight ends in both receptions (220) and yards (2,416), and he ranks #5 on the list among all players (see below chart). His career yardage total ranks 13th overall among all active players, and he is the only TE on the top 20 of both lists compiled by the NCAA.
   For the 2008 season, Coffman ranks #2 among all tight ends in receptions (63), as well as yards per game (93.00), and he is the clear leader among BCS school tight ends. His stats are enough to rank him 5th in the NCAA in receptions among all players, and he also ranks 20th nationally among all players in yardage.

   Mizzou PK Jeff Wolfert has put up incredible numbers over three seasons of booting the ball, as he’s made 210-of-220 (95.5%) combined kicks in 2006, 2007 and 2008. Those numbers break out to 51-of-61 (83.6%) on FGs and a perfect 159-of-159 on PATs (that’s 100.0% for any non-math types out there).
   In fact, Wolfert is on pace to break an NCAA career record for best accuracy for combined field goals and PATs. Wolfert’s combined career mark of 95.5% is currently ahead of the record of 93.3% set by UCLA’s John Lee from 1982-85 (116-of-117 PATs, 79-of-92 FGs). The minimum standard to qualify for this record is 50 career field goals.
   Much more on Wolfert’s considerable exploits can be found elsewhere in the PDF edition of the game notes. Open PDF

   Mizzou’s Mr. All-Everything WR/KR/PR Jeremy Maclin enters Saturday’s game at Baylor as the NCAA’s #1 all-purpose player, with an NCAA-best 193.25 average per game. He’s coming off a 192-yard outing last week against Colorado, doing most of his damage on offense, as he caught 11 passes for 134 yards and 2 TDs. What could be most amazing about his yardage total is that he amassed the total despite getting zero yards in kickoff returns! Since Colorado was shutout, the Buffaloes tried only one kickoff all night, and that was on the opening kick of the game. The Buffs squibbed that one to keep it away from J-Mac.
   Maclin enters Saturday’s game at Baylor with 4,322 career all-purpose yards. Even though he’s only a sophomore, Maclin stands just 98 yards shy of breaking MU’s career record for all-purpose yards. That mark is held by former QB Brad Smith, who amassed 4,419 yards for the Tigers from 2002-05.
   Much more information on Maclin can be found elsewhere in the PDF edition of the game notes. Open PDFTIGERS HAVE STICKY FINGERS

Rk. Team Fumbles  (Lost)
1. Miami, Fla. 3 (1)
2. Mizzou 4 (4)
3. Middle Tenn. St. 5 (4)
4. Ball St. 6 (3)
Central Michigan 6 (2)
Connecticut 6 (4)

   While all coaches preach ball security until the cows come home, Mizzou has taken that mantra to heart in 2008. The Tigers have fumbled just 4 times total in 2008, and they’ve run 551 plays from scrimmage – meaning they’ve fumbled just once every 138 plays on average. The fumbles (all recovered by the opponents) have come in two games, with one in the opener against Illinois, and the other three all coming in game #4 against Buffalo.
   All four fumbles happened in opponent territory, with all four coming from Tiger receivers.
   Only one team in the country has put the ball on the ground fewer times than Mizzou, as Miami, Fla. has fumbled just 3 times so far in 2008 (losing just 1). Here’s a quick look at the leaders…

Rk. Player, School, Pos. (Class) Games Fumbles P/G
1. Stryker Sulak, MU, DE (Sr.) 8 5 0.63
2. Zach Arnett, New Mexico, LB (Sr.) 9 5 0.56
3. Keenan Clayton, Oklahoma, DB (Jr.) 8 4 0.50
Brandon Ghee, Wake Forest, DB (Jr.) 6 3 0.50
Stephen Anderson, Army, LB (So.) 6 3 0.50

   While the Tiger offense has proven trustworthy in holding onto the ball, Mizzou’s disruptive DE Stryker Sulak has proven quite adept at getting the ball out from the grasp of opponents. The Rockdale, Texas native has forced 5 fumbles in 8 games in 2008, and that per-game average of 0.63 forced fumbles per game is highest in the nation.
   For his career, Sulak has forced 13 fumbles in 47 games as a Tiger. The next-most by any active Tiger is 5 forced fumbles by Ziggy Hood in 44 career games.
   At right is a quick look at the national leaders in the category.

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 55 8 (2001-Present) 55-39 .585 4
Warren Powers 46 7 (1978-84) 46-33-3 .580 5

   Mizzou Head Coach Gary Pinkel is in his 8th season at MU and touts a career record of 128-76-3 (62.6%). 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 46-25 (64.8%) over the past 5+ seasons, and to bowl games in 2003, 2005, 2006 and 2007, has an 8-year record in Columbia of 55-39 (58.5%). Dating back to the 2005 Independence Bowl win over Steve Spurrier and South Carolina, Pinkel has won 27 of his last 36 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 55.
   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…

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