The Greatest Win - 1963-1975 Region (Round One)

The Greatest Win in Mizzou Football History


Greatest Win in Mizzou Football History Bracket

1963-1975 Region

Round One

Today, we move on to Region #3 of the Greatest Win competition.  What's greater, a bowl win to cap an insanely successful 3-year run, or a dominant upset on Monday Night Football?

Mizzou 14, Georgia Tech 10
Mizzou 20, Alabama 7
December 22, 1962
Houston, TX
Bluebonnet Bowl
September 8, 1975
Birmingham, AL
Legion Field

Significance: One of the most underrated seasons in Mizzou history came to an end with a hard-fought win over Bobby Dodd's Engineers from Atlanta.  Mizzou only lost four games from 1960-62 and had only missed out on a major bowl in '62 thanks to a late tie versus Kansas.

The second tie knocked Mizzou down a peg, and they entered the game a touchdown underdog to GT.  That didn't stop them from striking first, however.  Johnny Roland and Bill Tobin led an early scoring drive that was capped by a 21-yard keeper by QB Jim Johnson, and Mizzou took a 7-0 lead. 

Georgia Tech's prolific QB Billy Lothridge was battered around early on by Mizzou's always tough defense.  His first five pass attempts were all knocked down, and when the day was through, he had completed five passes to his receivers and four to Missouri defenders.

Lothridge's first completion didn't come until the second quarter, but it helped GT score on a long touchdown drive to tie the game at 7-7.  That was the only prolonged drive they would manage all game.

Both teams would trade defensive uppercuts through most of the game--Mizzou would not complete a pass all game--and in the end it came down to one perfect play.  Georgia Tech started the second half with a punt, and after a 3-yard run by Paul Underhill, Tobin got the ball going up the middle.  Perfect blocking by Andy Russell (who also had two interceptions) and others got Tobin into the secondary, where he raced untouched 77 yards to the house.  (A senior, Tobin was named offensive player of the game after rushing for 114 yards in just 11 carries.)

The 14-7 advantage held up.  Tech recovered a fumble at the MU 15 but couldn't advance the ball and settled for a 26-yard Lothridge field goal to cut Mizzou's lead to four, but while the explosive GT offense would threaten three times in the fourth quarter, they would never score.  It was not only a wonderful defensive effort by the underdogs, but a wonderful ball control effort by the offense as well--GT had given up only 102 rushing yards per game, but spurred on by Tobin and Johnson, Mizzou would compile 258 for the day.

Why is this game great?  Georgia Tech was an outstanding program under Dodd, and the 7-point underdogs (DISRESPECT!!) were not only able to draw a little respect for the Big 8 with a big win over the SEC (yes, GT was in the SEC then), but they were also able to cap a three-year span that saw them 25-4-3, a result more impressive than Mizzou's 30-11 record from 2006-08.

Significance: Mizzou had established its "giant killer" reputation long before the crazy 1976 season that we've documented recently.  In 1972, they took out Notre Dame.  In 1973-74, Nebraska.  But they weren't dominant in any of those games.  They crushed Alabama on Legion Field to start 1975.

In the early part of the 1970s, Mizzou had a decent amount of firepower, but aside from a nice run in 1973, they had been missing the dominant defense that they had through much of the 1960s.  That changed in the 1975 season opener, as they completely shut down #2 Alabama's potent wishbone attack, holding them to a startling 31 rushing yards.

It was a week before the NFL season started, so ABC elected to move Mizzou-Bama to Monday Night Football, and Mizzou put on a shocking show in front of a national audience.  A 20-point underdog, they played one of the most perfect first halves in Mizzou history.  They forced a 'Bama three-and-out on the opening possession and drove 58 yards in 12 plays for a touchdown.  Fulton native Tony Galbreath, who would rush for 120 yards on the day, both keyed and capped the drive, scoring from three yards out to put Mizzou up 7-0.  Another Tide punt led to a 44-yard Tim Gibbons field goal.

To the surprise of most of the country, Mizzou was up 10-0, and the Mizzou defense was far from done.  Safety Jim Leavitt (yes, that Jim Leavitt) recovered an Alabama fumble at the Tide 32.  Three plays later, fullback John Blakeman scored on an option reverse.  17-0.  Mizzou didn't punt until four minutes remained in the first half, but after they did, Ken Downing picked off a hurried Richard Todd pass, and Gibbons bounced a line-drive field goal attempt in off the crossbar, and Mizzou shocked the country by going up 20-0 at halftime.

The second half was a formality, at least the Mizzou defense made it that way.  Twice, Mizzou fumbled deep in their own territory, and a botched punt snap gave Alabama yet another opportunity, but the Tide would only score once, on a deflected touchdown catch by Ozzie Newsome.  Led by tackle Keith Morrissey, who had three second half sacks, Mizzou would not let Alabama even think about coming back into the game.

When it was over, Columbia erupted.  Students filled the Quad, where fireworks were shot and Marching Mizzou showed up.  The impromptu parade spilled into downtown, where somebody etched "Missouri 20, Alabama 7, 9-8-75" into fresh cement.  You just simply did not do to a Bear Bryant team what Mizzou did to them that Monday night.  This was the only game 'Bama would lose in 1975.

Aftermath: It would take Mizzou a couple of years to rediscover the heights of 1960-62.  They would go 7-3 in 1963 and 6-3-1 in 1964--both were certainly respectable seasons--before breaking through again in 1965 with a Sugar Bowl bid.  The win over GT is overshadowed by other outstanding wins of the 1960s, but...well, here's its moment to shine.

Aftermath: I know everybody wants to schedule tougher, but 1975 is a pretty telling reason why that's not a good idea.  Mizzou had to face the preseason #1 (OU), #2 ('Bama), #3 (Michigan), and #7 (NU) teams, and while they knocked off the Tide, they simply wore out down the stretch, losing four of six to finish the season 6-5, losing only once to a team that won less than 9 games in '75.

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