Oct. 30, 2006
#25 Missouri Tigers (7-2, 3-2) at Nebraska Cornhuskers (6-3, 3-2)
Nov. 4, 2006 — Memorial Stadium — Lincoln, Neb.
TIGERS AND HUSKERS SQUARE OFF FOR BIG 12 NORTH LEAD
The Missouri Tigers (7-2 overall, 3-2 in Big 12 Conference play) head North this Saturday to face the Nebraska Cornhuskers (6-3, 3-2) in a battle that will put the winner in control of the Big 12 North Division race. The game, which will be televised regionally on ABC Sports, will kickoff at 11:10 a.m. at Nebraska’s Memorial Stadium.
Mizzou is looking to bounce back from a 26-10 home defeat last Saturday to 19th-ranked Oklahoma, in a game that saw the Sooners score all of their points directly after Tiger turnovers, drive-extending penalties, and a safety on a blocked punt.
Similarly, Nebraska is looking to make amends after losing as favorites last Saturday at Oklahoma State, by a 41-29 count. The Huskers jumped out to a 16-0 lead, but were outscored 41-7 in a 35-minute stretch spanning from midway through the 2nd quarter until three minutes remained in the game.
TIGERS AND HUSKERS BATTLE FOR BIG 12 NORTH LEAD
Even with both teams coming off losses last week (with both having been favored over teams from the Sooner State), Saturday’s game between Mizzou and Nebraska in Lincoln is still a huge one that will go a long way toward determining who will win the Big 12 North Division in 2006.
The combatants enter the game tied atop the North with identical league records of 3-2 – one game ahead of 3rd-place Kansas State (2-3) entering the weekend. With both teams having already beaten the Wildcats in head-to-head matchups, K-State enters the final 3 games of the year essentially 2 games behind both teams.
In the same vein, the winner of Saturday’s Mizzou-Nebraska game will in effect have a 2-game lead over the losing team with just 2 games remaining. That means the winner, standing 4-2, will need to win just 1 of its remaining 2 games in order to represent the North in the Big 12 Championship game (Dec. 2nd in Kansas City, Mo.).
After Saturday’s game, Mizzou has a bye week, then wraps up the regular season with a Nov. 18th game at Iowa State (3-6, 0-5), followed by a Nov. 25th home game against rival Kansas (4-5, 1-4). Nebraska will close the regular season with a Nov. 11th game at Texas A&M (8-1, 4-1) and a Nov. 24th home game against Colorado (1-8, 1-4).
In somewhat of a factual oddity, even though we’re 9 games into the season, Mizzou and Nebraska have only one common opponent among them so far, and that was the aforementioned Kansas State Wildcats. K-State lost consecutive games to each team, first losing at home to Nebraska on Oct. 14th (21-3), and then falling the next week at Mizzou (41-21).
- MORE MUSINGS ON THE BIG 12 NORTH RACE
Here’s a quick look at the basic scenarios for each team in the North, in terms of how they can reach the Big 12 Championship game...
- Mizzou (3-2) & Nebraska (3-2) – Saturday’s winner will have a 1-game lead with 2 games left, but with head-to-head being the first tiebreaker if the teams end tied, it is in essense a 2-game lead. That means for the loser Saturday to reach Kansas City, it would have to win its last 2 games, while Saturday’s winner would have to lose its last 2 games...
- Kansas State (2-3) – K-State has to win its 3 remaining games to reach Kansas City, and hope that both Mizzou and Nebraska finish no better than 4-4. K-State has already lost games to both MU and NU, meaning they would have to be a game better in the standings...
- Kansas (1-4) and Colorado (1-4) – One of these teams will be eliminated from championship game contention Saturday (KU with a Nebraska win, and CU with a Mizzou win due to head-to-head competition). For the team not eliminated this Saturday, it would have to win out to reach 4-4 and tie for first, with KU winning a head-to-head tiebreaker with Mizzou (KU plays at MU on Nov. 25), and CU winning a head-to-head tiebreaker with Nebraska (CU plays at NU on Nov. 24)...
- Iowa State (0-5) – Iowa State will be eliminated from the title game contention regardless of which team wins Saturday in Lincoln. Even if the Cyclones win this Saturday at home against Kansas, they would be 1-5, and be 3 games behind the winner of MU-NU, with just 2 games left to play.
SOONERS CAPITALIZE ON TIGER MISCUES FOR 26-10 WIN LAST SATURDAY
Missouri entered last Saturday’s home contest as the nation’s 23rd-ranked team, and was a slight favorite as it hosted 19th-ranked Oklahoma. The Sooners, however, didn’t pay heed to the prognosticators, as they capitalized fully on numerous Tiger mistakes to claim a 26-10 win in Columbia.
Oklahoma made the plays it needed in order to win – as good teams so often do – but those in the Tiger camp couldn’t help but feel that they didn’t make the Sooners work very hard for the win. All 26 Oklahoma points came directly from MU mistakes that came in the form of 4 turnovers, a blocked punt and an absolute killer drive-extending penalty. Add into the mix that Mizzou receivers dropped two passes that would have gone for touchdowns, and you’ve got a recipe for a Tiger loss.
Mizzou took the opening kick and drove for a field goal to take a quick 3-0 lead, and after holding the Sooners to a 3-and-out series, appeared poised to make a huge play when QB Chase Daniel found TE Chase Coffman all alone in the OU secondary for an apparent 66-yard TD. The sure-handed Coffman, who just last week was named the national TE of the week, couldn’t make the catch, as the ball went off his fingers. Instead of leading 10-0, on the very next play, Daniel had a pass tipped at the line of scrimmage and intercepted at the Tiger 34 yardline, and OU went in for a TD 7 plays later to take a 7-3 lead.
The Tiger offense once again put together a nice drive, and had moved into OU territory on its next series, only to lose the ball when TB Tony Temple was hit hard and fumbled. The Sooners capitalized by driving for a TD to take a 14-3 lead, and that was extended to 16-3 on MU’s following possession when P Adam Crossett had to fall on the ball in the endzone after his punt from the MU 12 yardline was blocked, and that’s how the score stood at halftime.
While that barrage left MU bloodied, the Tigers responded with some fire in the 3rd quarter, as its defense forced an OU fumble that it recovered in MU territory to start things, and the offense responded with an 8-play, 66-yard TD drive that took just 1:52, to make it 16-10.
The pro-Mizzou crowd of 62,045 was whipped into a frenzy when the Tiger defense stopped OU on a 3-and-out series and appeared to get the ball back at midfield with all sorts of momentum and nearly a full quarter-and-a-half left to play. But “Uncle Mo” decided to hit the snooze button on the Tigers, as S William Moore was flagged for roughing the punter on the ensuing punt, giving OU a fresh set of downs. The battle-tested Sooners took advantage of their reprieve, and marched for a back-breaking TD to make it 23-10 with 5:02 left in the 3rd quarter.
The Tigers still had time to get back into the game, and they appeared poised to do just that, as they drove to the OU 2 yardline late in the 3rd quarter. Facing a 1st-and-goal from the OU 2, MU could muster only 1 yard on a pair of rushes sandwiched around an incomplete pass on its first 3 tries. On 4th down, a pass went incomplete, and the Tigers had missed another golden scoring opportunity.
Oklahoma got its final points, a 30-yard field goal with 3:48 left in the game, after Daniel’s 2nd interception of the day.
MIZZOU-OKLAHOMA WRAP-UP NOTES
- QB Chase Daniel had a personal-best 359 yards of total offense in the game. Amazingly, he accounted for all but 1 yard of total offense for Mizzou, as Oklahoma shut down the Tiger running game outside of Daniel himself. Daniel completed 23-of-44 passes for 284 yards, and rushed a career-high 20 times for 75 yards and 1 TD, while TBs Tony Temple and Earl Goldsmith were held to a net of 1 yard on 7 combined carries (all coming in the 1st half)...
- Daniel threw a career-high 3 interceptions, with 2 of them coming in the final 4 minutes of the game as it became desperation time with the Tigers trailing by 16 points. He was also held without a passing TD for the 1st time this season, ending his school-record streak of 8 consecutive games with a TD pass...
- MU outgained Oklahoma in total offense on the day, by a 360-to-358 margin, but the Sooners rushed for a season-high 231 yards to win the time of possession battle by a 36:23-to-23:37 margin...
- Red zone efficiency played a key role in the outcome of the game, as OU was a perfect 4-of-4 on their scoring opportunities, including 3 TDs and 1 FG, while Mizzou converted on just half of its 4 opportunities. The Tigers got 1 FG and 1 TD (on their first possession of each half, respectively), but missed out on a 3rd-quarter drive that ended on downs at the OU 1-yardline and at the end of the game that ended on the OU 19-yardline...
- Senior SS David Overstreet, playing against the school where his late father starred as a running back in the late 1970s and early 1980s, led the Tiger defensive effort, with a team-best 14 tackles (film adjusted). He also recovered a Sooner fumble in the 4th quarter in MU territory, but the Tiger offense couldn’t capitalize and had to punt the ball away...
- Sophomore PK Jeff Wolfert continued his string of perfection, as he connected on a 39-yard FG to open the game, and made his only PAT try in the 3rd quarter. He has now made 35 consecutive kicks – including his last 8 FGs and 27 PATs – since missing his last kick (a 36-yard FG try in game #2 against Ole Miss). For the season, Wolfert is now 11-of-13 on FGs and a perfect 34-of-34 on PATs...
BIG 12 CONFERENCE BOWL SELECTION PROCESS
TURNOVERS LOOM LARGER THAN LIFE IN TIGER LOSSES
When taking a look at Mizzou’s pair of losses this season (25-19 at Texas A&M and 26-10 at home to Oklahoma), the biggest thing that stands out is turnovers.
In losses to the Aggies and Sooners, MU has turned the ball over 7 times (4 fumbles, 3 INTs), and those have been converted into 27 points (10 by A&M, 17 by OU), while Mizzou has forced just 2 turnovers (for 10 points) in those games.
Conversely, in Mizzou’s 7 wins, the Tigers have forced 19 turnovers and converted those into 69 points, while giving up 13 turnovers that foes have turned into 45 points.
What isn’t reflected on the stat sheet in both of those losses were plays that MU didn’t make that ended up being so instrumental in the defeats. Against A&M, WR Will Franklin fumbled going into the endzone on the 3rd play of the game – on what would have been a 65-yard TD pass – and instead of a quick 7-0 lead for MU, A&M got a touchback and drove for a FG to take a 3-0 lead (a 10-point swing).
Last Saturday against Oklahoma, a similar momentum swing occurred, as TE Chase Coffman had a pass from QB Chase Daniel go off his fingers that would have easily gone for a 66-yard TD that would have given MU a 10-0 lead in the 1st quarter. Instead of that, however, the ball fell to the ground, and on the next play Daniel had a pass tipped at the line of scrimmage, and intercepted by OU. The Sooners drove just 34 yards for a TD to take a 7-3 lead – a 14-point swing going against the Tigers.
TIGERS LOOK TO GET GROUND ATTACK BACK ON TRACK
As noted previously, Mizzou’s rushing attack was held under wraps by a tough Sooner defense in Saturday’s 26-10 defeat. Oklahoma held MU to just a net of 76 yards rushing on the day, in 27 carries (2.8 avg.), while the Sooners tallied a season-best 231 yards on 52 attempts (4.4 avg.).
That followed a similar pattern in MU’s other loss, as at Texas A&M, the Aggies rushed for 180 yards on 51 carries (3.5 avg.), while holding MU to a season-low 74 net yards on the ground in 26 attempts (2.8 avg.).
In both of those games, opponents used their advantage on the ground to enjoy huge advantages in controlling the clock. Texas A&M held the ball for a whopping 41:30 (to MU’s 18:30), while the Sooners enjoyed a 36:23-to-23:37 advantage.
In MU’s 2 losses, the Tigers have been outrushed by an average of 205.5-to-75.0, and the average time of possession has been 38:56-to-21:03 in favor of the bad guys.
In MU’s 7 wins, the Tigers have outrushed opponents by a 177.9-to-99.7 margin, and have faced an average deficit in time of possession of only 30:10-to-29:50.
TIGERS HANG AROUND IN COACHES’ POLL AT #25
Despite the loss to then 19th-ranked Oklahoma last Saturday, Mizzou hung around the USA Today Coaches’ Poll, dropping just 2 spots to #25, after entering the OU game as #23. The Tigers fell out of the Associated Press poll after a 5-week stay in that poll that saw MU reach as high as 19th. MU received enough votes to rank 28th in this week’s A.P. poll.
After defeating Ohio, 31-6, on Sept. 23rd, the Tigers moved into the AP poll – at No. 25 – for the first time since 2004, when the Tigers were ranked 19th prior to the second game of the year, at Troy. MU began that season ranked 18th in the AP poll.
In the A.P. poll, Mizzou has been ranked 11 weeks under Gary Pinkel, as the Tigers were ranked for 4 weeks (peaking at #22) in 2003, in addition to the aforementioned 2-week stay in the polls in 2004, and this year’s 5-week span.
TIGERS HAVEN’T BEEN ROAD WORRIERS
Mizzou has shown it can play winning football on the road this season, as the Tigers stand 2-1 on the year in road games. While MU hasn’t won in Lincoln, Neb., since 1978 (a span of 14 straight losses), the Tigers have more than held their own on the road so far, winning at New Mexico (27-17) and at 24th-ranked Texas Tech (38-21), while dropping a heartbreaker at Texas A&M (25-19), which is now ranked in the top-25 at 8-1 overall.
Quick starts fueled the Tigers to their first 2 road wins, as MU jumped out to leads of 10-0 and 24-0 at New Mexico and Texas Tech, respectively. The A&M affair was a back-and-forth game that saw 7 lead changes and a late MU rally fall short.
PINKEL HAS WON 15 OF LAST 22 GAMES AT MIZZOU
Mizzou Head Coach Gary Pinkel is in his sixth season at MU and touts a career record of 109-69-3 (61.1%). His career winning percentage of 60.2% to begin the season ranked him 23rd in the nation among active Division I-A coaches with a minimum of seven years coached.
Pinkel, who has led MU to a combined record of 27-18 over the past four seasons (including 15 wins in his last 22 games dating back to the 2004 season finale), and to bowl games in 2003 and 2005, has a six-year record in Columbia of 36-32 (52.9%).
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. Mizzou heads into its final 3 games of the regular season with a shot at winning its first conference title in football since the 1969 season – not bad for a team that was picked in the pre-season by Big 12 media to finish in 5th place.
With a team picked to finish 4th in the Big 12 North in 2005, Pinkel’s Tigers tied for 2nd place last year (winning all tiebreakers), and were playing for a chance to share for the division title heading into the regular-season finale. Pinkel has led MU to two bowl games, and with a third on the horizon in 2006, that puts him in select company, as he joins Don Faurot, Dan Devine, Al Onofrio, and Warren Powers as the only coaches to guide MU to three 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.
Mizzou’s 34-7 win over Ole Miss earlier this year drew him above the .500 mark at Mizzou. Pinkel is the first Tiger coach since Powers to have an MU record of above .500 after at least one full season of coaching (Powers left after the 1984 season with an MU record of 46-33-3).
Pinkel has driven Mizzou to a pair of winning seasons (8-5 in 2003 and 7-5 in 2005) in his five previous years at the wheel, with those representing two of MU’s four winning campaigns dating back to the 1983 season. With a winning season in 2006, he would become the first MU coach since Powers to have three winning years.
SATURDAY IS 100TH MEETING BETWEEN MIZZOU AND NEBRASKA
Mizzou and Nebraska will meet for the 100th time when they square off Saturday in Lincoln. Nebraska holds a 62-34-3 lead in the previous 99 meetings, with the lion’s share of that overall advantage due to a stranglehold the Cornhuskers held over MU from 1979-2002 that saw Nebraska win 24 straight games.
Prior to that NU winning streak, the Mizzou-Nebraska series was a very competitive and fiercely fought rivalry, as going into the 1979 season, Nebraska held just a 37-32-3 overall lead.
Mizzou has won 2 of the last 3 meetings coming into Saturday’s game, with both wins coming in Columbia in 2003 and 2005 (both scores being identical 41-24 affairs). Nebraska has won 14 straight over Mizzou in Lincoln, dating back to the Tigers’ last win – a 35-31 upset special that saw MU knock off the #2-ranked Huskers one week after they had upset #1-ranked Oklahoma in 1978. That Tiger win ranks as one of the most bitter losses in Nebraska lore, as it forced the infamous Orange Bowl rematch between Oklahoma and Nebraska in the 1979 Orange Bowl.
This will mark the 3rd straight time that Mizzou has played in Lincoln against an unranked Husker team (Nebraska is currently receiving votes in this week’s A.P. poll, and also was receiving votes in 2002 when MU played in Lincoln). Prior to that, the Huskers had been ranked in the A.P. poll every year the Tigers came to Lincoln from 1964-2000.
In 8 games in Lincoln spanning from 1964-1978, the Tigers held their own quite well, managing a 4-4 split despite going against ranked Husker teams in each outing. That span included 3 straight wins in Lincoln for Mizzou – in 1974 (21-10 over #12 Nebraska), in 1976 (34-24 over #3 Nebraska) and in 1978 (35-31 over #2 Nebraska).
LAST YEAR REWIND: MIZZOU 41, NEBRASKA 24
Brad Smith set a school record with 480 yards in total offense, ran for three scores and threw for another, turning up the production after Missouri lost an 18-point first-quarter lead in a 41-24 victory over Nebraska in a game played Oct. 22, 2005 in Columbia.
Smith had 246 yards rushing on 28 carries and was 21-for-36 for 234 yards for Missouri (5-2, 3-1 Big 12). David Overstreet had a key third-quarter interception to help the Tigers beat Nebraska (5-2, 2-2) for the second time in three years after winning only once in the previous 26 meetings.
Missouri has won two straight at home over Nebraska for the first time since 1967 and ’69 when the team was coached by Dan Devine. The final score, which gave coach Gary Pinkel his 100th career victory, was identical to that of Missouri’s victory at home over Nebraska in 2003.
Zac Taylor had two touchdown passes for Nebraska, which entered the game leading the nation in rushing defense at 65 yards per game. Missouri gouged the Cornhuskers for 277 yards on 49 carries and totaled 523 yards.
Missouri scored on its first four possessions, three touchdowns and a field goal, to take a 24-10 lead. A blocked punt and a fumble in the 2nd quarter that led to quick scores helped Nebraska tie it at 24 at the half, before Missouri took control again after the break.
Smith’s 45-yard run late in the third quarter, his third carry of 40 or more yards, put Missouri ahead to stay at 31-24. In the first quarter he was untouched on a career-long 79-yarder and had a 53-yarder to the Nebraska 16 that set up his 4-yard scoring run.
Everything worked in the first quarter for Missouri’s offense, which needed only 13 plays to score three touchdowns on its first three possession while running up a 21-3 lead. Smith’s 79-yarder came on the first play after a Nebraska punt, and the Tigers also were successful on fourth-and-1 from their own 43 late in the period when Smith hit Sean Coffey for a 37-yard gain that led to a field goal by Adam Crossett for a 24-10 lead early in the second.
Smith also threw a 15-yard touchdown pass to Tommy Saunders for the first score of the game. Saunders alertly grabbed the ball in the end zone after it popped out of teammate William Franklin’s hands, a play reminiscent of Matt Davison’s miracle grab that beat Missouri in 1997 after the ball was kicked in the air by teammate Shevin Wiggins.
A blocked punt by Daniel Bullocks and a fumble recovery by Jay Moore after Barry Turner’s sack of Smith led to two quick scores that helped Nebraska tie it at 24 at halftime. Bullocks recovered the blocked punt at the 1 and Cody Glenn scored on the next play, and Nebraska needed two plays to tie it on Zac Taylor’s 8-yard pass to Nate Swift after Moore returned the fumble to the 8.
LAST TIME IN LINCOLN: NEBRASKA 24, MIZZOU 3 (2004)
The last time that Mizzou visited Nebraska, the outcome and how it happened seem reminiscent of how the Tigers lost this past weekend to Oklahoma – turnovers, missed MU scoring opportunities and blocked punts that led to a Husker 24-3 win on Oct. 30, 2004.
A rough day on special teams proved fatal for Missouri, as the Tigers fell despite owning statistical advantages in most categories.
Nebraska took advantage of two Tiger errors in the punting game, one on a blocked punt, and the other on a fumbled snap, and turned those into 14 points as the Huskers took a 17-3 lead in the 3rd quarter.
An 86-yard TD run Nebraska’s Cory Ross with less than 3 minutes left in the gameinflated the final score, as prior to that run, the Tiger defense had been dominant, holding the Huskers to a mere 146 yards of total offense to that point.
Mizzou’s sterling defensive effort went for naught, as its offense moved the ball reasonably well, but could not reach the endzone – the first time since 2002 that MU failed to score a TD.
Mizzou held Nebraska without a 3rd-down conversion on the day (0-of-14), and ran 91 offensive plays, compared to just 58 for the Huskers, as MU outgained NU by a 328-to-235 margin.
The Tiger defense was especially effective against the Husker passing game, as NU QB Joe Dailey completed only 4-of-17 passes for just 26 yards.
But the Tiger defense couldn’t produce any turnovers, which proved to be a key to the game, given the fact that Nebraska entered the game with an NCAA-high 27 turnovers committed.
Nebraska opened scoring with a 41-yard field goal on the game’s opening possession. From that point, until the late, meaningless 86-yard TD run by Ross, the Huskers managed only 94 yards of offense.
Mizzou tied the game in the 2nd quarter, on a 39-yard field goal by Joe Tantarelli. The Tigers missed out on three other golden scoring opportunities, however, as Tantarelli and Adam Crossett missed on field goal tries of 42 and 44 yards, respectively.
Nebraska blocked a Matt Hoenes punt midway through the 2nd quarter, and returned it 16 yards for a TD that made it 10-3, and that’s how it stood at halftime.
Mizzou took the opening possession of the 3rd quarter and drove as far as the Husker 15 yardline, but a sack pushed the ball back and led to the long miss by Crossett.
Later in the 3rd, Nebraska caught a break when MU’s Hoenes fumbled a snap on a punt attempt, with the Huskers recovering on MU’s 15-yardline. Ross ran it in on the ensuing play, as Nebraska surged to a 17-3 lead with 1:34 left in the 3rd.
Mizzou still had a chance late in the game, as Brad Smith, who ended with a season-high 277 yards passing, drove the Tigers to a 1st-and-goal from the Nebraska 8-yardline with 5 minutes left, but MU couldn’t punch it in, and Ross sealed the game with his long run after MU turned it over on downs.
Nebraska held MU on the day to a season-low 51 yards rushing on 35 attempts.
Chase Daniel HAVING RECORD-SETTING YEAR
Sophomore QB Chase Daniel made his first career start Sept. 2nd against Murray State, and to call his performance good would be a slight understatement. Daniel was precision-like in his distribution of the ball, and he broke the MU single-game record by throwing 5 TD passes. He ended the night 23-of-32 passing for 320 yards in leading the Tigers to a 47-7 victory.
It’s been more of the same ever since then, as the Southlake, Texas native has turned into a gunslinger of record-setting proportions for Mizzou this year, as he has thrown for 2,287 yards and 19 TDs through 9 games. His 19 passing TDs has already broke the MU single-season record of 18 (held by Terry McMillan in 1969), and he needs just 177 passing yards to break the MU single-season record of 2,463 set in 1992 by Jeff Handy.
Daniel enters Saturday’s game Nebraska ranked 2nd in the Big 12 (7th nationally) in total offense (289.89 ypg) and 7th in the Big 12 (29th nationally) in pass efficiency (143.50 rating). His 2,609 yards of total offense so far already ranks 5th on the MU single-season chart, and he stands 997 yards away from breaking Brad Smith’s record of 3,605 set in 2005.
Daniel, who became the first-ever MU QB to throw 5 TD passes in a game (Sept. 2nd vs. Murray State), also became the first-ever MU QB to have 4 or more TD passes in a game more than once. He’s done it three times now – 5 vs. Murray State, 4 vs. Colorado (Sept. 30th) and 4 vs. Kansas State (Oct. 21st).
Daniel’s single-game passer rating in his first career start was an astounding 207.44, and for his efforts, he was named the Big 12’s Offensive Player of the Week on Sept. 4th.
What Daniel would do against a tougher opponent, was the big question, and he answered that as best he could the next week against Ole Miss, as he amassed 332 yards of total offense in leading the Tigers to a 34-7 dismantling of the SEC school.
Daniel completed 24-of-40 passes on the day for 1 TD, and unveiled an ability to run for yardage as well, as he ran 13 times for a team-best 89 yards and 1 TD. He led the Tigers to 10 points in their first 2 possessions, including a precision-like 10-play, 80-yard TD drive to open the game that he capped with a 3-yard TD run.
His 1st-ever road start wasn’t without its bumps, but Daniel passed with flying colors in the end, as he led the Tigers to a 27-17 win in Albuquerque, N.M. in week #3. He led the Tigers to a quick 10-0 lead in the 1st quarter on 8-of-9 passing for 74 yards and 1 TD in his first two series. After throwing his 1st interception of the year in the 2nd quarter (which was returned 11 yards for a TD by the Lobos), Daniel responded in crunch time to drive the Tigers to consecutive 4th-quarter TDs (on drives of 80 and 72 yards) to extend a 13-10 lead to 27-10 with 1:46 left in the game. In the 4th quarter at New Mexico, Daniel was 5-of-5 passing for 46 yards, and he rushed 5 times for 22 yards, including an 8-yard keeper for a TD that came at the 10:52 mark to make it 20-10 in favor of the Tigers.
He then had a 4-TD passing day and threw for 253 yards as he led MU to a 28-13 win over Colorado to move the Tigers to 5-0 on the season. His numbers weren’t gaudy at Texas Tech, but he was still effective, as he completed 15-of-22 passes for 173 yard and 1 TD. Most importantly, he showed moxie early by leading MU to a FG drive on the game’s opening possession in front of a rabid Red Raider Homecoming crowd, and he calmly directed a 10-play, 73-yard drive in the 3rd quarter for a huge TD to quell Tech’s momentum after they had closed to within 24-21 at the time. He did all of this while celebrating his 20th birthday that night.
Daniel is replacing all-everything QB Brad Smith, who started every game for Mizzou from 2002-2005 and left holding 69 different MU, Big 12 and NCAA game, season and career records. He gained invaluable experience as a true freshman in 2005, playing in 10 games and completing 38-of-62 passes (.576) for 347 yards and 1 TD (2 INTs).
Most notably, Daniel relieved an injured and ineffective Smith in the fourth quarter of MU’s Homecoming game last year against Iowa State, and led MU from a 10-point deficit with just under 9 minutes left to a thrilling 27-24 comeback win. With MU’s back squarely against the wall, Daniel belied his youth by calmly leading the Tigers downfield on consecutive drives of 75 and 87 yards, and hit WR Sean Coffey from 4 yards out for a game-tying TD with just 20 seconds left in regulation. After ISU failed to score on its OT possession, Daniel again directed a drive that culminated with PK Adam Crossett’s game-winning 26-yard field goal.
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