Tigers Close Out Regular Season vs. Jayhawks

The teams will play for the MU-KU Bass Drum.

The teams will play for the MU-KU Bass Drum.

Nov. 21, 2011

Missouri (6-5, 4-4) vs. Kansas (2-9, 0-8)

   It's the game that many Mizzou fans circle on their calendar before the season starts, and it's finally here - Mizzou vs. Kansas, the nation's 2nd-most played rivalry and one of the most hotly-contested rivalries in all of sport.
   This year's edition will take place Saturday afternoon in Kansas City's Arrowhead Stadium, with kickoff set for 2:30 p.m. FOX Sports Net will televise the game.
   Mizzou is riding high, coming off of a 31-27 comeback win last Saturday at Texas Tech that gave the Tigers consecutive wins for the first time in 2011. The Red Raiders took control early on, as they forged a 14-0 lead after one quarter, and they still held a 27-17 edge heading into the 4th quarter.
   The Tigers dug in, however, and posted the 3rd-largest 4th-quarter comeback win in school history, as QB James Franklin threw for one score in the final period,and ran for the game-winner on a 9-yard keeper with 2:22 left. Franklin's run stood up as the winning points, when the Tiger defense made a goalline stand in the closing seconds, intercepting Tech QB Seth Doege at the MU 4-yardline with just :32 seconds left in the game.
   The win made Mizzou bowl eligible for the 7th-straight season, extending its school-record streak. Of course, a 7-5 bowl record is much more attractive to prospective bowl committees, so the Tigers certainly have extra incentive to come out on top Saturday, in addition to the natural rivalry with KU.
   Kansas comes into Saturday's Border Showdown looking to break a nine-game losing skid. Since starting the season 2-0 under 2nd-year Head Coach Turner Gill, the Jayhawks have dropped their last nine games by an average margin of 29.3 points a contest.
   Kansas is coming off a 61-7 loss last Saturday at Texas A&M, but they had a pair of wins barely get away the previous two weeks, as they dropped a 13-10 heartbreaker at Iowa State three weeks ago, followed by a 31-30 overtime home loss to Baylor two weeks ago.

KICKOFF: 2:40 p.m. CT.

STADIUM: Arrowhead Stadium (79,451 - natural grass surface). Opened in 1972. MU is 4-2 there alltime, including 3-1 versus Kansas.

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 92).

TV: FOX Sports Net. Joel Meyers (Play-by-Play), Brian Baldinger (Analysis) and Jim Knox (Sidelines) will call the action. Bob Steinfeld (Producer) will boss everyone around.

   MU - NA / RV (33rd) / NA.
   KU - none.

SERIES: 56-54-9 and has won 4 of the last 5 meetings, including 3-of-4 played in KC's Arrowhead Stadium.

   MU: Gary Pinkel (Kent, `75), 82-53 at MU (11th year) and 155-90-3 overall (21st year). Pinkel is 6-4 vs. Kansas and 2-0 vs. Turner Gill.
   KU: Turner Gill (North Texas, `90), 5-18 at KU (2nd year) and 25-48 overall (6th year). Gill is 0-2 vs. Mizzou and Gary Pinkel.

   When Texas Tech sped out to a 14-0 first quarter lead, things looked dire for the Missouri Tigers, who entered the game with a 5-5 record and needed one more win to reach bowl eligibility. When the 4th quarter started, Tech's lead was still 10 points, at 27-17. Little did the Red Raiders know that Mizzou had them right where they wanted.
   Okay, it wasn't actually in the Tiger gameplan to spot two touchdowns to a team that already had a road win at #1 Oklahoma on its ledger, but that's how things unfolded Saturday in Columbia on Senior Day. Thankfully, the Tigers have displayed a strong finishing kick all season long, and Saturday was no different as Mizzou rallied for a pair of touchdowns to take a 31-27 lead with 2:22 left, and the defense preserved the win with a goalline stand capped by an interception on the MU 4-yardline with :32 seconds remaining.
   The comeback marked the 2nd double-digit 4th-quarter deficit overcome to win in less than a month. On Oct. 29th, Mizzou trailed at Texas A&M by 11 points in the 4th quarter before coming back to force overtime, eventually claiming a 38-31 OT win. The A&M comeback stands as the 2nd-largest 4th-quarter deficit ever overcome to win for Mizzou (13 points is the biggest 4th-quarter deficit overcome, against Nebraska in 1949), while Saturday's 10-point deficit is the 3rd-largest overcome.
   The 4th quarter has been a huge swing to the Tigers in 2011. Mizzou has outscored opponents by a whopping 133-to-52 margin in the 4th quarter.
   The 133 4th-quarter points is the 2nd-most in the FBS, trailing only Houston, with 137. Conversely, the Tigers have scored only 40 points in the 3rd quarter, a figure which ranks 103rd out of 120 teams comprising the FBS ranks.

   Sophomore QB James Franklin stood tall with the heat on Saturday, as he led the Tigers on a pair of touchdown drives in the final quarter to erase a 27-17 deficit., including an 89-yard drive to win the game in the final minutes.

  • Franklin led the charge for the Tiger offense, as he accounted for all four touchdowns on the day (2 passing, 2 rushing) that made the difference in Mizzou's thrilling comeback win. He ended the day with 324 yards of total offense (including a career-high 152 yards rushing), and scored the game-winning touchdown on a 9-yard keeper with 2:22 to play...
  • Mizzou trailed by a 27-17 score entering the fourth quarter of play yesterday, but Franklin led a 63-yard drive that ended with his 7-yard TD pass to WR Marcus Lucas on 3rd-and-goal with 12:03 left to pull the Tigers to within 27-24. After a defensive stop, Franklin and the offense got the ball back on their own 11-yardline with just 6:06 left in the game. On the game-winning drive, Franklin ran 5 times for 39 yards and completed 2-of-3 passes for 35 yards...
  • In the 4th quarter alone, Franklin complete 5-of-8 passes for 85 yards and a TD, while he ran 9 times in all for 76 yards and a score...
  • Franklin has accounted for 31 touchdowns on the year (18 passing / 13 rushing), and that total ranks as 4th-most on the MU single season charts. In the last four games (where MU is 3-1 including wins over two ranked teams), Franklin has a passer rating of 152.68 and has completed 69.0% of his throws for 881 yards, 7 TDs and zero interceptions. He's also rushed for a team-high 349 yards and 5 TDs in that stretch, and is averaging 307.5 yards of total offense in those games...
Games Schools
121 Minnesota-Wisconsin
119 MIZZOU-Kansas @
117 Nebraska-Kansas
117 Texas-Texas A&M @
116 North Carolina-Virginia
116 Miami (Ohio)-Cincinnati
115 Auburn-Georgia
114 Oregon-Oregon State @
114 Stanford-California
113 Purdue-Indiana @
@ - 2011 game yet to be played

   With roots dating back all the way to the Civil War period in American history, Missourians and Kansans have always had a fierce rivalry in everything from football, to a fierce game of Donkey Kong in the neighborhood pub.
   Not only is the rivalry a spirited one, but it has several other things going for it that makes it one of the best (and most underrated) in the country...

  • The MU-KU series is the 2nd-most played in the nation, with its 119 previous meetings. Only Minnesota and Wisconsin (121 meetings including their 2011 contest won by the Badgers) have played eachother more than MU and KU...
  • It is one of the most even rivalries around. Mizzou holds a narrow 56-54-9 edge in the previous 119 meetings. That makes the series one of the most closely-contested of the nation's top-23 most-played rivalries - those with 107 or more games played alltime...
  • And like all great fierce rivalries, it's complete with controversy. Many stories abound about the bad blood between the two programs throughout the years. While the two schools maintain diplomatic relationships, they don't even agree on the series results, as MU claims it leads at 56-54-9, while KU claims that it is tied at 55-55-9. The dispute goes back to the 1960 season, when unranked KU came to Columbia and upset undefeated and #1-ranked Mizzou, 23-7. The win was later forfeited by KU after the Big 8 Conference ruled that ineligible players took the field for the Jayhawks. Kansas counts the result on the field in their record books (and the NCAA also records it as 55-55-9), while MU counts the forfeit in its win column.
       The loss remains as likely the most bitter in Tiger history, as it cost MU a chance at its only national championship, as the Tigers went on to finish 10-1 on the field (11-0 in the record books with the forfeit), and ranked 5th after defeating Navy in the 1961 Orange Bowl.

   As previously stated, MU and KU have the 2nd-most played rivalry in college football history, and this Saturday will mark the 120th meeting between the two heated rivals, with MU claiming it leads the historic series at 56-54-9.
   Mizzou has won two straight, and four of the last five overall, including three of four games played in Kansas City's Arrowhead Stadium since the series moved there in 2007.
   Mizzou cruised to a 35-7 win over Kansas in 2010, marking MU's largest margin of victory over KU since claiming a 55-17 win in 1988. Blaine Gabbert led Mizzou on touchdown drives on its first two possessions, and the Tiger defense was stingy from the outset, as Mizzou led 21-0 at halftime. The Tigers allowed only 141 yards of total offense to Kansas, while Mizzou's offense was nicely balanced, with 218 rushing yards and 179 passing yards.
   The 2009 edition saw one of the more exciting and dramatic games ever played in the storied series, as MU won a back-and-forth affair, getting a 27-yard Grant Ressel at the final gun to claim a 41-39 win. The Tigers trailed 14-3 at the end of the 1st quarter, and faced a 21-13 halftime deficit before rallying to take a 36-28 lead early in the 4th quarter. Kansas posted a rally of their own with 11 straight points, and the Jayhawks appeared on the verge of the upset win, as they held a 39-36 lead after a short field goal with just 5:10 to play. That probably loomed even larger when MU couldn't muster a drive and punted the ball back with three minutes left in the game. But the punt was downed inside the Jayhawk 5-yardline, and on 3rd down, Aldon Smith and Brian Coulter met in the endzone for a sack and safety on Kansas QB Todd Reesing with 2:45 to play to pull MU to within 39-38. After the ensuing free kick, MU drove downfield, thanks to some key runs by TB Derrick Washington, and the Tigers drained the clock to set up Ressel for the game-winner with no time left.
   Kansas claimed a 40-37 win in Arrowhead Stadium in 2008 that was a definite gut-kick for the Tigers, who came into the game as favorites. It was a game played in cold and snowy conditions, and after Kansas surged to a 19-7 first-half lead, the Tigers worked some comeback magic and eventually would hold leads of 30-26 and 37-33 in the 4th quarter, only to see the Jayhawks post two TD drives in the final five minutes of play. The last one was capped with a play that will likely burn in the memories of Tiger fans forever, as on 4th-and-7 from the MU 26-yardline with just :27 seconds to play, Reesing avoided pressure and floated a perfect pass to a streaking Kerry Meier in the endzone for a back-breaking TD that accounted for the final score. Mizzou drove furiously downfield in short time, but had to settle for a long field goal attempt, but Jeff Wolfert's 54-yarder at the gun was partially blocked, sending Mizzou home with the defeat to drop them to 9-3 on the season.
   The year before left a decidely different taste in the mouths of Tiger fans, as Mizzou won for the second straight year against Jayhawks in 2007, claiming a thrilling 36-28 win over KU at Arrowhead Stadium. Nicknamed "Armageddon at Arrowhead," the game featured 11-0 and 2nd-ranked Kansas against 10-1 and 3rd-ranked Mizzou, with #1 LSU having been upset the night before - meaning the winner would likely ascend to #1 in the polls and control the inside track to a spot in the BCS Title Game. Mizzou rode the arm of QB Chase Daniel to a 14-0 halftime lead, and that would eventually surge to a 21-0 Tiger lead in the 3rd quarter before Kansas could get untracked. Kansas would post an admirable comeback that pulled them to within 34-28 with 2:03 to play, but after Mizzou drove into KU territory on the ensuing possession before pinning the Jayhawks inside their own 5-yardline, the Tigers sealed the deal with a sack of Reesing in the endzone for a safety with just :12 seconds left to account for the final score of 36-28. The win gave MU its first-ever Big 12 North Division title, and two days later, when the polls came out, the Tigers were the #1 team in the land.
Tiger Coach Gary Pinkel stands 6-4 against Kansas in his 10 years at Mizzou. He won his first two contests against the Jayhawks, and that made him only the 3rd coach in Tiger history to win his first 2 games over Kansas.
   The series returned to Kansas City, Mo., in what was initially a two-year agreement, as both schools agreed to move home games in 2007 and 2008 to Arrowhead Stadium, home of the NFL's Kansas City Chiefs. It was announced the week of the 2008 contest that both schools had reached an agreement, in conjunction with the Chiefs and the Kansas City Sports Commission, to extend the series in Kansas City another four years, through 2012.
   Kansas City was the historical site of the MU-KU rivalry, as the city was the host of the 1st 16 games in the series, from 1891-1906, and has been now for 25 games overall. KU holds a 13-9-3 edge overall in games played in the series in Kansas City, and the 2007 game marked the first games played there since MU won in consecutive years in 1944 (28-0) and 1945 (33-12).

   Most every school has goofy trophies that they play rivals for each year, and Mizzou is no exception. MU and KU play annually for a bass drum. Here are details of the significance behind the drum...

MU-KU BASS DRUM -- Issued to the winner of the Missouri-Kansas football game ... Originated in 1935 ... Trophy was originally conceived as an Indian War Drum in nature by a couple of Mizzou alumni, since Osage Indians roamed the plains of Kansas and Missouri long before the state universities were founded ... Original intent was to stimulate new interest in longtime series that had dwindled during the Depression of the '30s and MU's all-time low in football victories ... Supposedly authentic Indian drum was purchased in a Kansas City pawn shop, and new drum was acquired prior to 1986 game ... Autographed originally on both drum heads by KU and MU alumni ... Tradition was temporarily forgotten for a few years but resumed on an annual basis in 1947 ... The first game ended in a scoreless tie.

   Saturday's winner will not only take home the traditional bass drum trophy given to the winner of the rivalry game, but the school will earn 3 points in the M&I Bank MU-KU Border Showdown Series.
   This marks the 10th year of the Border Showdown, which records the head-to-head results between MU and KU in all sports each season. Each competition is assigned a certain amount of points during the year, and the school that wins the most at the end wins a traveling trophy and bragging rights.
   Entering Saturday's football game, Mizzou holds a 9.5-to-0 lead thus far in the 2011-12 series, as the Tigers have swept all competitions so far in volleyball (2 wins worth a total of 3.0 points), soccer (1 win, 3.0 points), men's cross country (higher finish at Big 12 Championships, 1.0 point), women's cross country (higher finish at Big 12 Championships, 1.0 point), and women's swimming and diving (1 win, 1.5 points).
   In the previous nine years of the showdown, MU has won the series seven times, including the last five years. Mizzou has claimed yearly wins in 2002-03 (32.0-to-8.5), in 2004-05 (22.5-to-17.5), in 2006-07 (25.0-to-14.0), in 2007-08 (24.0-to-15.0), in 2008-09 (23.0-to-17.0), in 2009-10 (23.0-to-16.5), and again last year in 2010-11 (23.0-to-16.0), with KU claiming wins in 2003-04 (21.5-to-18.5) and in 2005-06 (22.0-to-17.0).

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) - Blaine Gabbert directed scoring drives on No. 15 Missouri's first two possessions and later scored on a 1-yard run himself, leading the Tigers to a 35-7 victory over Kansas in the 119th renewal of college football's second-oldest rivalry.
   De'Vion Moore scored two touchdowns for the Tigers (10-2, 6-2 Big 12), who drew 117 yards in penalties in the always-passionate border showdown but still dominated their archrivals.
   The Jayhawks (3-9, 1-7) ended a tough season in Turner Gill's first year as head coach and lost for the 16th time in their last 19 games after opening 2009 with five straight wins.
   Missouri rolled up 397 yards of total offense while recording the fourth 10-win season in its 119-year history and giving coach Gary Pinkel his 150th career win. The Tigers will go into the bowl season with losses only to Nebraska and Texas Tech on back-to-back weekends.
   On Missouri's first possession, Gabbert hit T.J. Moe for 16 yards and then got 19 yards on a quarterback keeper to help set up Moore's 3-yard touchdown run. Moore also capped Missouri's day with a 5-yard touchdown run with 2:56 to play following Carl Gettis' interception of Quin Mecham.
   The Tigers, ranked first in the Big 12 in scoring defense and sacks, took down Kansas quarterbacks five times and held the Jayhawks to just 141 total yards.
   That was the lowest total offense output against Mizzou by a conference opponent since 1980, when Kansas was held to 126 yards in a 55-7 Tiger win in the old Big Eight Conference days.
   The Jayhawks finally got on the board after Bradley McDougald intercepted Gabbert's pass in the third quarter. Three times in the 13-play, 46-yard drive Webb converted third downs, including when he was forced out of the pocket on third-and 7 and scrambled 8 yards to the 3. James Sims scored on the next play, breaking a scoring shutout string of 100 minutes, 29 seconds for the Tiger defense, which was coming off a shutout performance the previous week at Iowa State (a 14-0 Mizzou win).
   That made it 21-7, but the Tigers came right back. Moe caught a 6-yard pass from Gabbert on third-and-5, then got open on the next play for a 37-yard run-and-catch to the Kansas 15. Gabbert finished the drive with a TD on a a 1-yard sneak on 3rd-and-goal.
   Kansas' Jordan Webb was just 7 of 20 for 45 total yards. Gabbert was an efficient 16 of 26 for 179 yards.
   After Kansas lost 19 yards on its first possession, the Tigers zipped 36 yards in six plays. Gabbert connected with Moe for 23 yards to the 2, then Moe scored on an end-around, becoming the eighth Missouri player with a rushing touchdown this year.
   After Kansas failed on fourth-and-3 in the third quarter, Kendial Lawrence made it 21-0 with a 21-yard run.

   There's a big emphasis put on finishing games strong in the Mizzou program, and the numbers show that the Tigers have done that well in 2011, as they have outscored opponents by a significant 133-52 margin in the 4th quarter. That's an average of 12.1 points scored in the 4th quarter for Mizzou. As noted previously the Tigers have posted a pair of 4th-quarter wins after rallying from double-digit deficits in the final 15 minutes, including last Saturday's 31-27 win over Texas Tech after trailing 27-17 entering the 4th quarter.
   On the flip side, 3rd quarter scoring has been troublesome for the Tigers, as they've managed only 37 points all season in the 3rd period (3.4 pts./game), including just 24 total in 8 Big 12 Conference games (3.0 pts./game). Third-quarter dry spells in league play turned a manageable 24-14 halftime deficit at Oklahoma into a 31-14 deficit at the end of 3 quarters; a 10-3 halftime deficit at Kansas State into a 17-3 deficit; a 24-17 halftime deficit vs. Oklahoma State into a 38-17 deficit; and a 14-13 halftime lead at Baylor into a 28-14 deficit.
   Putting it another way, in MU's 4 Big 12 losses, it has been outscored in the 3rd quarter by a 43-0 margin. In its 4 Big 12 wins to this point, MU has outscored opponents by a 24-12 margin.
   Last Saturday versus Texas Tech saw Mizzou score its first touchdown in the 3rd quarter since Oct. 15th. Trailing 20-10 after Tech opened the half with a field goal, the Tigers marched 70 yards for a TD, on a James Franklin-to-Michael Egnew 5-yard TD pass with 4:43 left in the quarter to pull to within 20-17. That would be the only time Mizzou would touch the ball in the quarter, as the Red Raiders played keep away.
   The week prior against Texas, the Tigers scored their first points in the 3rd quarter since Oct. 15th, with a field goal by Trey Barrow to extend the lead to 17-3. They didn't take full advantage of the opportunity presented, however, as Mizzou blocked a Longhorn punt and took over with a 1st-and-goal from the 1-yardline. Three runs netted minus-one yard, however, and the Tigers had to take the three points. Mizzou's defense did its part to maintain the lead, as the only points scored in the 2nd half by UT came on a 3rd-quarter blocked punt that went out of the endzone for a safety.
   It's not like the Tigers have been getting stonewalled by opposing defenses in the 3rd quarter, they simply haven't capitalized on opportunities. In 12 3rd-quarter possessions in conference losses only, only 4 have ended in 3-and-out punts, and 6 of them have ended on the opponents' side of the field.
   The 12 drives have ended in the following ways: 6 punts, 2 missed FGs, 2 fumbles, 1 interception and 1 on downs.

   The latest Sagarin Ratings Index (a portion of which is used in the BCS standings) has Mizzou ranked 11th in the country (through games of Nov. 19th), and Sagarin ranks Mizzou's schedule as the nation's #2 toughest.

   According to the NCAA statistics, Mizzou has played the nation's 4th-toughest schedule so far, in terms of opponent winning percentage (through games of Nov. 19th). The combined record of the 5 teams Mizzou has lost to is 40-13.
   Four of Mizzou's 5 losses on the season have come at the hands of ranked opponents, with three of them coming on the road (at #23 Arizona State [37-30 in OT]; at then-#1 Oklahoma [38-28]; and at then-#20 Kansas State [24-17]), in addition to a 45-24 home loss to then-#6 Oklahoma State. The Tigers were able to get over the hump and defeat the 5th ranked team they've gone up against - #16 Texas A&M in College Station (38-31 in OT), and followed up with a win over #21 Texas (17-5 in Columbia).
   Here's a look at the schedule rankings - NCAA Toughest Schedules, Past Opponents Winning Pct.:

  1. Kansas .648
  2. Tennessee .641
  3. North Carolina .633
  4. MIZZOU .630
  5. Baylor .627
  6. Nebraska .626
  7. Mississippi St. .626
  8. Mississippi .622
  9. Minnesota .596
  10. Auburn .595

   Sophomore QB James Franklin might not have come with the hype of his predecessors Chase Daniel or Blaine Gabbert, but he's quietly putting together an outstanding season in his first year as a starter. With a plethora of star QBs in the Big 12 Conference, Franklin won't make 1st-Team All-Conference, but he's certainly positioned himself for big things in the future.
   He's coming off a clutch performance against Texas Tech that saw him lead the Tigers to a 31-27 win, thanks to a 14-point 4th-quarter rally that erased a 27-17 deficit starting the final period of play. Franklin threw and ran for two TDs each on the day (including one each in the 4th quarter rally) to account for all 4 MU TDs in the game, and he ended with a career-high 152 yards rushing and added 171 yards passing on 13-of-20 passing.
   In crunch time, Franklin was at his best against Tech, as he completed 5-of-8 passes in the 4th quarter for 85 yards and 1 TD, while he ran 9 times for 76 yards and the game-winning score with 2:22 left.
   Franklin, who has helped guide the Tigers to wins over two ranked teams this season (at #16 Texas A&M and over #21 Texas) ranks 14th in the NCAA in total offense, averaging 304.27 yards per game. He's got the Tiger offense ranked 11th nationally in total offense heading into Saturday's game with Kansas (483.45 avg.), and he enters the Kansas game with a string of 116 consecutive passes without an interception since his last one on Oct. 22nd against Oklahoma State.
   Franklin has been responsible for 31 TDs so far in 2011 (18 passing, 13 rushing) - a figure which is already 6th-best in MU single-season history (see chart on page 15 sidebar).
   Recently Franklin, playing in his homestate of Texas, was our choice for Mizzou offensive player of the week in MU's thrilling 38-31 overtime win at Texas A&M.
   Franklin led a dramatic comeback win in a hostile environment, as the Tigers overcame a 28-17 4th-quarter deficit to pull out a 38-31 overtime win at 16th-ranked Texas A&M (the 2nd-largest 4th-quarter deficit overcome to win in Tiger history). Franklin, who accounted for 4 TDs on the day, tossed a clutch 11-yard TD pass in overtime on 3rd down that proved to be the winning points. That capped an outstanding day for the sophomore, as he finished with 295 yards of total offense, including 16-of-24 passing for 198 yards and 2 TDs (42 yards, 11 yards) and 97 yards rushing and 2 more TDs (20 yards, 8 yards). His 20-yard TD run to open scoring in the 1st quarter was featured as the #2 play on SportsCenter that Saturday night and Sunday morning, as he scrambled to the sideline with no open receivers, and broke the tackles of at least three Aggies to get to paydirt...

Rank Class Wins Bowls
1. 2010 40 4
2. 2009 38 4
3. 2008 37 4
4. 2011 34 3
5. 1963 33 2

   Mizzou's sizeable 2011 senior class has been around for some outstanding moments in the program's history, as detailed above. Even though MU's 6-5 record entering the final week of the regular season isn't what the group had in mind back in August, it still has a chance to make its mark on the Tiger history books.
   This senior class has already been part of one of the winningest four-year periods of time in Mizzou football history, as their 34 wins from 2008-present stand as the 4th-best mark ever. The 2010 class was part of a record 40 wins in its four years (2007-10), a record in which this year's senior class certainly had a large role in contributing to.
   What's more, if the Tigers can reach a bowl game in 2011, this class would become only the 5th in MU history to play in four bowl games in a 4-year span. The only previous classes to achieve that feat were the 1981 senior class, followed by the last three classes to matriculate (2008, 2009, 2010). Here's a look at the most prolific senior classes at Mizzou, in terms of wins in a four-year period.

   After winning 10 games 3 times in the last 4 seasons, expectations coming into the 2011 season were understandably very high for the Missouri Tigers. While Mizzou stands at 6-5 overall, it's important to keep in perspective that it features a 1st-year starting quarterback in true sophomore James Franklin. While each of MU's previous 3 quarterbacks are now playing in the NFL, it is interesting to take a look at comparisons of Franklin to the likes of Brad Smith, Chase Daniel and Blaine Gabbert, in terms of how they fared in their first 11 starts.
   The stats really are pretty similar, even when comparing the wins, as Daniel and Gabbert both stood one game better in the win column to this point in the year. Smith finished the 2002 season with a 5-7 record, Daniel finished the 2006 season with an 8-5 record, and Gabbert finished the 2009 season with an 8-5 record.
   Franklin has been responsible for 31 TDs through 11 games, which is the most of the group. He's also the only one of the group to guide the Tigers to a win over a ranked team (winning each of his last 2 against ranked foes) in his first year as a starter. Were it not for a missed field goal at the end of regulation, Franklin would stand 3-3 against ranked opponents.
   One more interesting thing to note when looking at the numbers above for the 1st 11 career starts, is the strength of schedule. While we don't have access to the opponents' schedule strength rankings from each year to date, Franklin is the only one to register a win against a ranked team, as he is 2-4 in his six games. Brad Smith went 0-3 in his first year vs. ranked opponents, Chase Daniel 0-1, and Blaine Gabbert 0-3.

Tiger Record C-A-Int. Pct. Yds. TD Effic. Rush-Yds. (TDs)
Brad Smith (2002) 5-6 189-342-5 55.3 2,207 15 121.02 180-999 (7)
Chase Daniel (2006) 7-4 245-385-10 63.6 2,841 22 139.28 128-368 (4)
Blaine Gabbert (2009) 7-4 224-373-7 60.1 2,999 22 143.30 77-134 (3)
James Franklin (2011) 6-5 210-332-7 63.3 2,553 18 141.52 182-794 (13)
1. E.J. Gaines 2011 16
2. Michael Harden 2002 15
3. Michael Harden 2003 13
Marcus King 2005 13
5. Adrian Jones 1987 12
Jason Simpson 2005 12

   Sophomore CB E.J. Gaines is in his first year as a starter, and he's quickly developing into an outstanding cover man who leads the Big 12 Conference, and ranks 3rd in the NCAA with 18 passes defended (16 PBUs, and 2 INTs). His 16 pass break ups this season has broken the Mizzou single-season record (see accompanying chart), and he surpassed the previous mark of 15 last Saturday with a pair of break ups against Texas Tech.
   The youngster has really stepped up to the challenge the last month, as he's come up with 12 pass break ups in games against Texas Tech (2 PBUs), Texas (2 PBUs), Baylor (1 PBU), Texas A&M (4 PBUs), Oklahoma State (3 PBUs, plus an INT). He has also moved up to 4th on the squad with 66 tackles.
   Gaines was front and center in Mizzou's 17-5 upset over #21 Texas, as he contributed with 2 pass break ups, to go with 6 tackles as the Tigers held UT to a season-lows of 247 yards and 5 points.
   Gaines had a 7-tackle, 1-PBU night at Baylor, and prior to that won Big 12 Defensive Player of the Week honors for his 10-tackle outing at Texas A&M, and his play in the 2nd half was indicative of the improved results of his unit, as the Tiger defense held the high-powered Aggie offense to just a field goal after halftime. Gaines had 3 of his pass break ups in the 2nd half. He became the first Mizzou cornerback to win the weekly conference award since R.J. Jones in 2002.
   He's at his most exciting with the ball in his hands, however. Against OSU he showed just how exciting, as he broke two long returns, nearly taking them both for touchdowns that could have changed the complexion of the game.
   His first came late in the 3rd quarter, with MU trailing by 14 points and with the defense's back against the wall. Oklahoma State faced a 3rd-and-4 at the Mizzou 5-yardline. A TD by the Cowboys would have been a back-breaker, but Gaines saw to it that that wouldn't happen. He made a great read and jumped the route thrown by OSU's Brandon Weeden, intercepting the ball five yards deep near the right sideline of the endzone. Most of the time, people take a knee, but Gaines saw a chance to make something happen, and he did that as he made several moves to elude would-be tacklers inside the 20. He eventually took it back 54 yards the other way to set the Tigers up in plus territory, needing perhaps just one more downfield block that would have sprung him.
   Later, in the 4th quarter, Gaines also came up big in the return game. Inserted as MU's new primary punt returner prior to the Iowa State game, Gaines raced the other way 33 yards with 6:09 left to put the Tigers, who trailed by just 14 points at the time, on the Oklahoma State 35-yardline. A score there would have cut the deficit to a touchdown, but it wasn't to be as MU was intercepted on a batted ball on the next snap.
   Those plays weren't the first big ones Gaines has made this season. He took a punt return back 44 yards for a score against Western Illinois (when he was the backup return man), and in the season opener, he made another interception in the Tiger endzone to thwart a scoring opportunity by Miami (Ohio).
In 9 punt returns, Gaines is averaging a solid 10.9 yards per attempt.

   Defensive tackles often toil in virtual anonymity in the trenches, but Mizzou's senior DT Dominique Hamilton has been anything but anonymous in 2011, as he's putting together an all-star caliber type of season.
   Hamilton leads all Big 12 interior linemen with 52 tackles on the season, and while a "save" isn't a football statistic, we're going to borrow from the game of baseball to give Big Dom credit for a pair of saves in 2011, as he has single-handedly (literally) made a pair of plays to preserve dramatic Tiger wins. He deflected passes that ended games against both Texas Tech and Texas A&M, with one creating a game-winning interception, and the other ending an overtime drive on 4th down for the win.
   The last "save" came this past Saturday at home against Texas Tech. With MU having rallied from a 10-point 4th-quarter deficit to take a 31-27 lead with 2:22 left in the game, the Red Raiders drove downfield and stood in prime position with a 1st-and-10 at the Tiger 11-yardline with under a minute to play and three timeouts left. After Tech QB Seth Doege completed a pass for 4 yards to reach the Tiger 7-yardline with :37 seconds left, he next tried a pass over the middle. Hamilton got a push at the line, and got his mitt up in the passing lane to deflect the ball. It hung in the air for around 4 1/2 minutes (approximately) and finally nestled into the loving arms of Tiger DE Michael Sam, who made the interception at the MU 4-yardline with :32 seconds left. Mizzou ran out the clock and claimed the dramatic 31-27 win to reach bowl eligibility.
   Hamilton's first "save" came on Oct. 29th at 16th-ranked Texas A&M, when the Tigers similarly rallied from an 11-point 4th-quarter deficit to force overtime. After Mizzou scored a TD on the initial possession of overtime for a 38-31 lead, the Aggies tried to answer, but eventually faced a 4th-and-5 at the Mizzou 20-yardline. Hamilton foiled A&M's plans when he batted down Ryan Tannehill's pass attempt over the middle to end the game.
   Hamilton was on his way to a standout junior season in 2010, but he suffered a broken foot early in game #7 against Oklahoma, ending his season early.

   Junior TB Kendial Lawrence began the year as MU's #1 tailback coming out of fall camp, as he was clearly the Tigers' most productive back in two-a-days. After a tough opener against Miami (Ohio) when he was held to just 10 yards on 9 carries, Lawrence suffered a broken bone in his leg in practice prior to the 2nd game of the year at Arizona State. He missed the next three games recovering and had his first action back at Kansas State (6 carries, 5 yards).
   The emergence of Henry Josey as the Big 12's most productive running back could have deterred Lawrence, but he was determined to get back to help his team, and he did just that and then some against #21 Texas when he subbed for an injured Josey and ran for a career-high 106 yards and 1 touchdown to key Mizzou's 17-5 win.
   Lawrence went for his first career 100-yard game against a Longhorn defense which entered the game with the nation's 9th-ranked rushing defense, allowing just 94.88 yards per game. He carried a career-high 18 times on the day, and his 35-yard touchdown in the 2nd quarter staked MU to a 14-3 lead. He also caught a pass for a 20-yard gain on the day. His previous career best rushing game was a 96-yard outing in 2010 at Texas Tech.
   Last Saturday against Texas Tech, Lawrence just missed a 2nd-straight 100-yard day, as he went for 94 yards on 15 carries (6.3 average).
   He enters Saturday's game against the Jayhawks with 395 rushing yards and 3 TDs on the season.

   Senior DE Jacquies Smith for All-Big 12 honors, you say? We say yes, and here's why.

  • Smith leads the Big 12 in forced fumbles, with an average of 0.44 per game, and his 4 total forced fumbles is tied for most in the league this season...
  • Entering Saturday's game against Kansas, Smith stands 6th in QB sacks (0.56 per game average), and he ranks 8th in the league in TFLs with his 1.00 average per game. Keep in mind that Smith suffered a dislocated elbow in the season opener against Miami (Ohio), and he was forced to miss the next two games. The injury definitely hampered him for awhile upon his return, and his numbers didn't jump off the page, but now that he's healthy he's playing at the level he expected to when he was a pre-season 1st-Team All-Big 12 pick by many outlets...
  • Smith had only 3 tackles versus Texas, but he was his disruptive self as he contributed to Mizzou's huge defensive effort with 2.0 TFLs and 1 QB sack, plus a forced fumble and a pass break up...
  • Smith got a sack and forced fumble to end one Texas drive, and later nearly got another in the 4th quarter, but the Longhorn QB was ruled to have started his arm coming forward before the ball came out...
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 83 10 (2001-Present) 83-54 .606 7
Warren Powers 46 7 (1978-84) 46-33-3 .580 5

   Mizzou Head Coach Gary Pinkel is in his 11th season at MU (21st overall as a head coach) and touts a career record of 156-91-3 (63.0%).
   Pinkel, who has led MU to a combined record of 61-29 (67.8%) over the past 6 seasons, and to bowl games in 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009 and 2010, has a 10-year record in Columbia of 83-54 (60.6%). Dating back to the 2005 Independence Bowl win over Steve Spurrier and South Carolina, Pinkel has gone 55-24 in his last 79 games overall (69.6%). 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 83. 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.
   Mizzou's bowl appearance in 2010 meant that Pinkel has led MU to 7 bowl games overall, and that is the most bowl games by any MU coach.
Pinkel has directed Mizzou to 7 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 and 10-3 in 2010), with those representing 7 of MU's 9 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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