Texas Tech Beats Mizzou: A Diary

In no other sport do such high stakes reside on such a small number of games.  College football is both the greatest and most unfair sport because of pure sample size.  Think back to last basketball season: with a 30-game schedule, we got a rather accurate read of this team.  We knew their ceiling, we knew their floor, and we absolutely knew the Achilles Heel that would eventually end their season.  But if they had just played a select 12-game schedule, we might have known nothing at all.

Consider the following two 12-game samples from the 2009-10 basketball schedule.

Season #1

Non-Conference
Chattanooga: W, 99-56
at Vanderbilt: L, 83-89
at Oral Roberts: L, 59-60
Georgia: W, 89-61

Conference
Kansas: L, 56-77
at Kansas State: L, 53-63
Colorado: W, 84-66
at Iowa State: W, 69-67
at Nebraska: W, 74-59
at Oklahoma: L, 61-66
Oklahoma State: W, 95-80
Texas A&M: L, 74-77

That's a 6-6 season, with a tight win at lowly Iowa State salvaging bowl eligibility.  Kim English is an extreme disappointment, and Mizzou is being questioned mightily heading into 2010-11.

Season #2

Non-Conference
vs Illinois: W, 81-68
Oregon: W, 101-69
UT-Pan American: W, 100-44
UMKC: W, 91-57

Conference
at Kansas: L, 65-84
Kansas State: W, 74-68
at Colorado: W, 84-66
Iowa State: W, 65-56
Nebraska: W, 70-53
at Baylor: L, 62-64
Texas: W, 82-77
at Texas Tech: W, 94-89 (OT)

That's a 10-2 season, with a last-second loss at a good Baylor team preventing an 11-win campaign.  Huge things are expected of Kim English and the juniors, and Mizzou is a preseason Top 10, borderline Top 5, team, especially if they win their bowl game (ahem).

The same team produced all of those results.  For those who are baffled how the same team that beat Oklahoma two weeks ago could produce Saturday night's efforts, it's all about sample size.  Most basketball teams fall victim to at least a couple of landmines along the way; landmines in football are much more destructive, as they basically count the same as 2.5 losses would in basketball.  It's what makes the accomplishments of Bobby Bowden and Tom Osborne in the 1990s so impressive -- they went years without falling victim to random bad losses.

(The solution, by the way, is obvious: two games per week!)

We know this football team's Achilles Heel -- we called it before the season.  We fretted about the hands on the receiving corps. We wondered if the defensive tackles would hold up.  We worried about the athleticism in the secondary.  We were concerned about Blaine Gabbert's instincts.  So far this season, the secondary has held up, and the defensive tackles were fine until injuries took their toll, but the other concerns have reared their ugly heads a few times now.  Gabbert let early drops and inaccuracy get into his head against San Diego State, and he did it again in Lubbock.  Meanwhile, the receiving corps that looked so great against Texas A&M and Oklahoma showed their bad sides the last two weeks.  Over a 30-game schedule, this is to be expected.  But with a random sampling of 12 games, it's impossible to tell how many times a team's strengths will overcome their weaknesses.  Mizzou's 7-2 record suggests they've overcome their flaws quite well.  But they absolutely did not on Saturday night.  It's time to relive the drops, the frustration, and the further defensive injuries all over again.

7:10 - We're looking live at a ... less-than-capacity Jones-AT&T Stadium in Lubbock.  Ron Franklin and Ed Cunningham are your announcers, and I'll just say right out front: I love Ron Franklin.  Because I love him, I can overlook any of his current flaws if I try hard enough (just like I did with Keith Jackson in his final seasons).  But he is really struggling to keep up with the game at this point.  The mispronunciations, incorrect player names, and flawed calls are hard to listen to, but in the end, if Mizzou had won big I wouldn't have minded at all.

FIRST QUARTER

7:15 - Kickoff in Lubbock.  Get this: Mizzou won the toss and elected to receive!  Unfortunately for Marcus Murphy, it's yet another unreturnable kick.  The last time he got to field a kick and run with it was in the third quarter of the Oklahoma game.

Henry Josey gets the start in this one, I guess.  It's four tough yards around left end.  Franklin calls the sweep an end around, which ... I guess, technically, it is.  Gabbert tucks and runs for a first down and is congratulated on the sideline by a psyched up Andrew Jones.  Oh, Andrew Jones.  Your career has not turned out as you expected, has it?

On the third play, Gabbert option pitches to Marcus Murphy on the right, and ... damn.  He gets the edge with ease (it took a while for a Tech defender to fight off blocks enough to even enter the screen), races down the sideline, and at the perfect moment, cuts between two Tech defenders.  They run into each other, and he trots into the end zone for a 69-yard score.  As MizzouCus says in the live thread, though, Murphy was apparently tired of not getting to return kickoffs, so he treated that like a return instead.  Just like that, it's 7-0 Mizzou, and it's impossible not to immediately think "Blowout."  But as with last year's Navy game, easy early scores don't portend future success.

7:22 - After a solid kickoff return by Eric Stephens (this will be a bit of a trend), Tech starts at their 27.  In his first start of the season, Steven Sheffield starts with a ... QB draw?  This is Texas Tech we're playing, right?  Jacquies Smith (who had himself a solid day) stops him for one yard, and after Baron Batch picks up four on second down, it's very quickly third-and-5.  Kip Edwards and Zaviar Gooden eat up a screen to Batch, but Terrell Resonno is called for a very dicey roughing the passer penalty (they said he made helmet contact ... and if he did, it was minimal).  Tech to midfield.  Quickly, it's third-and-2 again, and after Mizzou covers all of his options, Sheffield fires low to his bailout option (Aaron Crawford).  Tech punts, and the crowd boos.  Mike Leach would have gone for it there.  Hell, he'd have gone for it on fourth-and-12.

7:27 - Mizzou starts their second drive from their 8, and as will become a pattern later on, it's very quickly third-and-long after De'Vion Moore picks up two yards on first down and Jerrell Jackson almost makes a great catch of a tipped pass.  Gabbert lobs the ball too far for Egnew (the first sign that this game will become a little too San Diego State-esque for Mizzou), and Matt Grabner boots a 51-yard rugby punt.  Really, that's one of his lesser punts of the night.

7:30 - Another quick Tech possession.  After a short run, Sheffield throws short of Adam James (boooooo) and makes a poor third-down pass under pressure from Aldon Smith.  It looks like he's trying to throw it out of bounds, but Zaviar Gooden somehow almost makes a one-handed pick.  Tech punts, and Sheffield is not making the most of his early playing time.

7:33 - It's basketball season now, so I'm warming up my boxing analogies: in Mizzou's third possession, Kendial Lawrence lands a stiff jab to the nose, then drops Tech with a killer left hook.  (In actual football terms: Lawrence goes for nine yards on first down, then breaks off a 71-yarder to the left.)  Jerrell Jackson does some wonderful blocking downfield, and a nice speed burst from Lawrence gets him in easily.  Whereas Murphy has to make one move to score his touchdown, Lawrence had to make about half a move.  It's 14-0 Mizzou, and with as lifeless as Tech's defense looked on that drive, it is once again easy to see Mizzou winning this one by five touchdowns.  Unfortunately, Tech gets off the canvas (boxing analogy!).

7:36 - Eric Stephens returns another short Trey Barrow kick (he doesn't seem to be getting nearly the same distance as he was earlier in the season) to the Tech 46, and the Red Raiders are in business.  This points to one of the biggest problems of the game for Missouri -- they were absolutely decimated in the field position battle.  Remember the A&M game, where every Mizzou possession seemed to start at the 40 and every Aggie possession started at the 10?  Flip that around in this one.

Already to midfield, Tech has to drive just 29 yards to get into field goal range.  A pass to Lyle Leong (five yards) and a run by Batch (eight) pick up one first down, then Sheffield shrieks and fires high to Leong under pressure from both Smiths; impressively, Leong catches the tough pass and gets 13 more yards.  He was very good Saturday night.  Mizzou dodges a major bullet on the next play, when Tech perfectly sets up a QB throwback but Cornelius Douglas misfires to Sheffield (WHEW), and after he fires long for Leong on second down, Sheffield scrambles for three yards before getting lit up by Aldon Smith and Michael Sam.  Matt Williams' field goal is good, and it's 14-3 Mizzou.  Chalk up three points to field position.

7:45 - After yet another touchback (eight straight unreturnable kicks including Oklahoma's onside attempt), Gabbert scrambles for three yards, and then ... passing yards!  Moe goes for seven and a first down.  That makes it 162 rushing yards to seven passing yards.  And then ... Wild-Moe formation!  Moe gets two yards on the direct snap, then Josey picks up six.  On third-and-2, however, Tech swarms Moore, and Mizzou has to punt.  For whatever reason, Mizzou simply has no mojo on third downs.  Third-and-short ... third-and-medium ... third-and-long.  Nothing.  Grabner's punt is lower, and much more returnable, than normal, and Detron Lewis returns it for 33 yards.  Luckily, Tech both held and blocked in the back, and Tech will start on their 15.  That's approximately a 45-yard difference in field position.

7:52 - Mizzou almost catches another break on Tech's first play -- Cornelius Douglas bobbles a pass almost long enough for it to get picked, then Terrell Resonno (who came up big in the first half) stops Batch for a short gain.  On third-and-8, however, Kenji Jackson falls down covering Leong, and it's a 25-yard gain.  Ouch.  A quick pass to Eric Ward gets another 10, and Tech's across midfield.  However, Brendan Donaldson makes a lovely strip of Eric Stephens on the next play, and Andrew Gachkar (today's MVP, really) recovers.  The ref somehow called him down, and Tech almost got another play off before the review buzzer buzzed, but Mizzou's bacon was saved.  Replay shows it was clearly a fumble.  Mizzou ball at their 45, 3:21 remaining in the first quarter.

(Everything involving the officials in this game took five times longer than it seemed it should take.  Replay signals, penalty calls, everything.)

7:53 - De'Vion Moore goes for five yards to midfield, then an inside screen to Moe picks up 12.  He's so good in tight spaces.  Gabbert makes a poor option pitch to Murphy (the early option success might have doomed us in later play-calling), who has to spin and get upfield for just two yards.  Bront Bird is hurt on the play, and ... man oh man, Jones-AT&T is just a MORGUE right now.  No crowd noise whatsoever, though I'm pretty sure poor mic placement on ABC's part had something to do with that -- it sounded pretty quiet later in the game too, when the crowd was clearly into it.

7:58 - For some inexplicable reason, and for the second straight game, Mizzou insists on going long to Rolandis Woodland and wasting a down right as they are on the edge of field goal range.  The ball predictably falls incomplete (I hate being this hard on Ro, but I need some evidence that he is better than Marcus Lucas and L'Damian Washington ... like, right now), and it's third-and-8.  Gabbert keeps it for six yards on third down, and Mizzou brings in everybody's favorite formation, the double jumbo (my name for the seven-OL package), on fourth-and-2.  The double jumbo really hasn't a ton of success just yet, but it gobbles up timeouts like nobody's business.  Nebraska used two last week, and Tech uses one here.  (And since the refs are on some weird time delay, the ball had already been snapped when the whistle blew.)

We go to commercial here, and Jon Hamm apparently seduces not only me (and my wife) during the commercial break...

...but also the coaching staff.  They either lose their train of thought or overthink -- after the timeout, Mizzou is back in the shotgun.  The ball is snapped far too early on the zone read, and Gabbert is stopped for one yard.  Tech ball. 

Really, this was potentially the most disappointing possession of the game to me when it comes to play-calling.  Mizzou had a throat-stomping opportunity following the fumble, but they wasted a down by going deep to Woodland (Not to harp on the point, but can we see what Marcus Lucas can do on a deep ball?  We know what everybody else can -- or can't -- do.), and they blew the call (and the players blew the timing) on the fourth-down attempt.  Tech was begging to leak a few more points, and Mizzou did not oblige.

8:00 - After a pass to Austin Zouzalik for a first down, Jacquies Smith lights up Sheffield for a loss of nine.  A nice screen to Batch picks up 13, and both Smiths go off limping.  That's both an omen of sorts and the end of the first quarter.  The second quarter is neither as long, nor as eventful.

SECOND QUARTER

8:09 - Tech has to punt after Sheffield misfires on third down.  After Henry Josey (6-yard run) and T.J. Moe (8-yard pass) combine for a first down, Gabbert finds Lucas (!) for a nice catch and six yards.  Lawrence is stopped for two yards on second down, and on third-and-2, Gabbert finds Jackson for a first down.  Unfortunately, he apparently pushed off (no replay on this one ... because why would we want to see a replay?) and is called for offensive pass interference.  Third-and-17 is a failure, and Grabner crushes a 71-yard punt.  It almost rolls out at the Tech 9 (Tech-9!) but bounces into the end zone instead.  A 71-yarder with a 51 net.  Tech picks up an initial first down, but Gooden, A. Smith and Gachkar all get licks on Sheffield, and Tech is quickly forced to punt again.

8:20 - T.J. Moe starts Mizzou next possession by getting nine yards on a reverse, and ... hooray, Ed Cunningham!  He resisted comparing Moe to Wes Welker!  And in Lubbock, no less!  On second-and-short, however, Josey fumbles.  The freeze-frame replay suggests he was down before the ball came out, but I guess they decided it was inconclusive.  Tech ball.  It's Josey's final carry of the night -- he came off the field nursing his shoulder.  (He's still on the depth chart this week, so I guess it wasn't serious.)  Thankfully, Mizzou's defense is still sharp.  Despite starting at Mizzou's 40 (field position!), Tech goes three-and-out and punts to Mizzou's 7.  A little over seven minutes remain in the second quarter.

8:29 - Ladies and gentlemen, Mizzou's final good-looking drive of the night!  Mizzou goes 84 yards in just over two minutes.  Moore gets things starting by finding the corner on a stretch play and bulling ahead for 14 yards; he also talks Colby Whitlock into grabbing his facemask for another 15 yards.  Gabbert goes long soon thereafter (after Jerrell Jackson's only catch of the night), but as is the case all night, he's five yards too long for Wes Kemp.  On second down, Lawrence makes a lovely run as well.  He cuts inside for a decent gain, then darts outside for more.  Great, great vision on this one.  It's a 19-yard gain, plus 15 yards on a horse collar tackle.  Mizzou has very quickly moved to the Tech 17.  A quick pass to Egnew generates six yards, then Moore goes up the middle for two.  (Credit Tech here -- Lawrence's run aside, they did not allow very much of anything between the tackles.  Mizzou had to go outside for most of their rushing yards, and after the first quarter, that was a tall order as well.)

On third-and-2, Mizzou runs the play I've come to despise since Chase Coffman left: the fade route.  Gabbert can't find Jackson inbounds, and a Grant Ressel field goal makes it 17-3 Mizzou.  It so easily could have been 24-3 at this point -- Mizzou blew their final drive of the first quarter, and after a good gain on first down, they should have come a lot closer to scoring a touchdown on this drive. (Can't regret too much on this drive, though -- they started at their 7 and were given 30 yards via penalty.  Plus, Tech did misfire on the QB throwback earlier.)  Obviously those points make a huge difference, as Mizzou will not score again tonight.  Not that we know this at the time.  With Sheffield struggling, it doesn't look like Tech's offense is going to put up much of a fight.  Unfortunately...

8:46 - ...in comes Taylor Potts.  (Or, based on the uniforms, Freedom subs in for Freedom.)  Tech starts at their 18 with 5:10 remaining in the half, and after a dink-and-dunk first down, Potts finds Detron Lewis (who beat Kip Edwards) for 15 yards, and the Red Raiders are in business.  Gooden almost picks off a pass intended for Tramain Swindall, but Potts advances Tech to the Mizzou 23, where they face a fourth-and-2 with 0:45 remaining.  A great play-call finds little-used Ben McRoy getting the corner for a first down.  Holding Tech to a field goal here would be gigantic, but Lewis beats Edwards again on third down.  Touchdown, Tech.  17-10 Mizzou.  If third downs went Mizzou's way, it could have been about 24-6 right now, but it wasn't.  Tech executed better when it counted.  Mizzou downs the ball and goes to the locker room up seven.  The positive spin: Gabbert has only 50 passing yards, and Mizzou's up!  The negative spin: Mizzou managed only three points on sustained drives, and Taylor Potts got the Tech O rolling.

THIRD QUARTER

Because I don't really care to outline most of this horrific quarter in great detail, let's go to the bullet points:

  • Tech quickly ties the game on their first drive.  Mizzou forces an immediate third-and-6, but the secondary suffers possibly their worst breakdown of the night on a blitz, and Potts finds Leong for 36 yards.  Two plays later, it's Potts-to-Leong again for the touchdown. 17-17.
  • Mizzou goes three-and-out.  Gabbert wastes a down throwing to Jackson, a screen to Egnew gets eaten up, and Gabbert throws it away on third down. Grabner unloads on a 67-yard punt, which amazingly isn't his longest of the night.  There is a personal foul called on Mizzou's Jared Parham on the punt, which is funny because he is redshirting and on the sideline.  Turns out, it was on Tech.  These refs didn't make any major mistakes, but they made their jobs a lot harder than was necessary.
  • Here, Mizzou's defense completely runs out of gas.  With the pass rush completely non-existent (Give Dave Steckel credit -- he was trying everything.  Blitzing, Candy formation, dropping eight into coverage ... nothing slowed Potts down.), Tech goes 85 yards in 12 plays, eating up nearly six minutes of clock and taking a 24-17 leadKevin Rutland is out with a strained back, and Potts picks on E.J. Gaines, who does fine making tackles ... but has to make too many tackles.
  • Mizzou goes three-and-out.  Lawrence is stuffed, then Gabbert throws two incompletions, one overthrown to Jackson under pressure, the other thrown poorly to a well-covered Moe.  Mizzou punts again.
  • With their backs against the wall, the Mizzou defense makes a play.  They almost pick a pass off when Detron Lewis tips it up into the air, and they almost pick another one off when Potts fires too hard to Crawford ... but then they do nab an interception at the goalline when Jacquies Smith tips a pass and Zaviar Gooden comes away with it.  Second life for Mizzou?  Nope.

9:48 - Mizzou starts at their 12 with 2:26 left in the third quarter, and with everything perfectly covered, Gabbert throws the ball away.  Unfortunately, there is nobody in the vicinity.  Grounding.  After Moore gets some yards on second-and-forever, Gabbert makes what seems like it might be a game-turning play.  He somehow shakes off a sack in the pocket, then finds Egnew for a tough catch and Mizzou's first third-down conversion of the night.  It comes 43:42 into the game.  After another first down, Gabbert goes high to Woodland on the slant, and it is dropped, of course.  Tough catch, but catchable.  Gabbert is almost picked off on second down but finds Kemp on third down ... and it's dropped.  Again, a tough catch -- the ball was behind him and 80 mph -- but Kemp got both hands on it and dropped it.  If only one of those two passes is dropped, the drive likely continues.  Instead, Mizzou punts.  Batch goes for eight yards, and an awful third quarter comes to an end.

FOURTH QUARTER

9:57 - I cannot give Mizzou's defense enough credit for the job they did in finding their second wind here.  Despite an offense that continued to misfire, the defense repeatedly kept Tech off the scoreboard.  Tech goes three-and-out to start the final stanza, but Mizzou can do nothing on the ensuing drive.  Moore goes for three yards on first down, then Gabbert once again airmails Jackson on the deep ball.  Just no touch at all today, and it has gotten into his head.  Again, it's third-and-long; Gabbert finds Moe on the sideline, but Moe had to cut off his route when Gabbert escaped the pocket, and he's a yard short.  It's too early to go for it; the punt is downed at the Tech 18.

10:04 - Once again, it looks like the defense is dead to rights.  Batch goes straight up the middle (I miss Dominique Hamilton) for 28 yards, and Tech quickly follows up with two more first downs.  They are to the Mizzou 30 with the dagger in their hands ... and Brad Madison comes up with a gigantic sack.  Two passes generate six yards, and Tech is held to a field goal attempt...

...that is blocked by Andrew Gachkar with 10:07 remaining.  Life!  Mizzou has life!  Or not.

10:07 - Moore starts the ensuing drive by fighting hard for two yards.  The run just isn't there anymore.  Mizzou fans will predictably claim that Mizzou gave up on the run (FIRE YOST!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!111!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!), but 175 of Mizzou's rushing yards came on four carries.  The other 17 carries for Mizzou halfbacks?  52 yards.  Take out a nine-yarder by Lawrence, and it's 16 for 43.  All the run did in the second half was set up second-and-long.  Could they have run more?  Sure.  Lord knows the pass wasn't working either.  But there's no evidence whatsoever that it would have worked any better than the failed passing game did.

On second-and-9, Gabbert fires short for Jackson, and once again, it is an immediate third-and-long.  This is San Diego State Gabbert all over again; he has let failed deep balls and drops get into his head. His third down pass bounces five yards short of a well-covered Moe, and Mizzou punts yet again.  This one goes for 58 yards, downed at the 4 with 9:12 remaining.  Your MVPs: Andrew Gachkar and Matt Grabner.

Times like these, I almost think football coaches deserve the salaries they get.  I mean, I think the money is pretty obscene, but … pretend you're David Yost.  The runs that carried you to two Q1 touchdowns are no longer working.  Your line can't open running lanes, and your quarterback either can't hit his target, or his receivers can't hold on when he does.  What the hell do you call?  And do you keep your struggling starter in, or do you install a true freshman, who has taken few meaningful snaps, midway through the fourth quarter?  There is no right answer here.  Oh yeah, and thousands of Mizzou fans are going to call for your head for not getting the right answer even though one doesn't exist.

10:15 - The good news: Mizzou holds Tech to a three-and-out.  The bad news: Michael Sam is hurt.  Because ... (in my best Oprah, "You're getting a car!" voice) ... YOU'RE getting hurt.  YOU'RE getting hurt.  And YOU'RE getting hurt.  If you play for the Mizzou defense, and you're pretty good, chances are you're missing time this season.  (Sam is also back on the depth chart this week, so I guess it wasn't serious.)  Carl Gettis fields a short Jonathan LaCour punt, and for the first time in ages, Mizzou starts with good field position (the Tech 48).  This is Mizzou's final opportunity.

10:17 - Marcus Murphy is hemmed in for three yards on first down, which is amazingly not bad in this game.  Then ... Gabbert lobs to Jackson for a first down!  Unfortunately, Jackson pushed off and committed another offensive pass interference penalty.  That's one catch and two offensive P.I.'s for the hero of the Oklahoma game.  Gabbert is playing horribly, but he's getting little help...

...except from T.J. Moe.  On second-and-22, Gabbert finds Moe for 14 yards.  On third-and-8, Moe gets obliterated but holds on for a first down.  What a catch.  I was so desperate for a "NOW the game has turned" moment that I had a really good feeling things would end up alright now.  My bad.  Lawrence is mauled in the backfield for a loss of six on first down (another failed option), then Moe gets nine on a reverse.  Third-and-7: Gabbert scrambles out of the pocket, buys time for somebody to come open, finds Kemp in the end zone, Kemp gets both hands on the ball ... and can't reel it in.  It was well-covered, it was another tough ball ... and it was absolutely a catch Kemp had to make.  I love the way Wes Kemp represents this team, and I love the leadership that he has displayed at times.  But this team needed somebody other than Moe to make a play, and Kemp couldn't do it.

Oh yeah, and on fourth down, another long pass bounces off of Jackson's shoulder pads (again, it was well-covered) and to the turf.

I am clearly not somebody who clamors for change, just for change's sake.  But I was very curious to see the depth chart when it was released this morning to see if there was any movement.  There was not.  On Saturday night, Blaine Gabbert threw 16 passes at Jackson, Kemp and Rolandis Woodland.  One was completed for 11 yards.  Two others resulted in offensive pass interference penalties.  The other 13 found the turf.  Not all were even remotely catchable, but in a game that Mizzou lost by a single touchdown, the Tigers just needed two or three more passes to find their targets.  Four-for-16 is not too much to ask.  Instead, including penalty yardage, the 16 passes resulted in a net of minus-19 yards.  Unacceptable.  Horribly, horribly unacceptable, on everybody's part.

(The good news, of course, is that the last time this many people questioned Gabbert and the receivers -- the Colorado game -- they came back and unleashed hell on their next couple of opponents.  Let's just say we need that badly.)

10:24 - That's ballgame.  Two first downs will force Mizzou to use their timeouts and end the game.  On third-and-6, Potts finds Detron Lewis for about five-and-a-half yards according to the initial spot ... and six yards according to where the ball was marked for the measurement.  Very odd.  Regardless, two Batch runs get seven yards, and on third-and-3, with Mizzou having to make a stop, Gachkar -- by far the best Mizzou player on the field tonight -- whiffs trying to tackle Potts, and Potts gets four yards and a first down.  Victory formation, etc.  Mizzou loses, 24-17.

---

Last week I said that, as it pertained to the Nebraska rivalry, there was only a past and no present or future.  With Texas Tech, it is almost 100 percent future.  Tech and Mizzou have played some interesting games over the years -- the two-point thriller in 1998 (where Mizzou broke up a two-point conversion in the final minutes) was great, Mizzou fans obviously took pleasure in the 2003 and 2007 massacres (and the 2006 double-pick-six game), and I'm sure Tech fans enjoyed Friday night -- but they're just getting started.  Losing Nebraska and Colorado, we desperately need some enjoyable rivalries to emerge to feel at home in the new Big 12, and Tech is a viable candidate.  I've always felt like Mizzou and Tech were kindred spirits of sorts, decent programs buried in the shadow of nearby(ish) rivals.  Chances are, they will be fighting it out every year for bowl bids (and hopefully the occasional conference title) in years to come, and maybe some intensity and bitterness -- stemming from something other than Missouri's governor occasionally shooting his mouth off -- will grow from it.

For now, though, from a Mizzou perspective, this was just an annoying road game that provided fodder for all the haters of David Yost who had mysteriously disappeared when Yost was coaching laps around Tim DeRuyter and Brent Venables not too long ago.

I don't know if football is a game of inches, but it is definitely a game of hands and feet.  A couple feet longer, and Iowa State's fake PAT pass in overtime finds its mark.  A couple more reliable hands, and Mizzou perhaps beats Tech.  Mizzou was that close to controlling their destiny in the final Big 12 North race.  Instead, they are all but eliminated.  The rest of this season will be simply about putting a nice win total on the board, and in a lot of ways, that's fine.  For a school who has lacked for 9+ win seasons, we sure are acting pretty snotty about the thought of a 9-3 or 10-2 finish.

Mizzou can erase quite a few lingering bad feelings with a strong performance on Senior Day Saturday morning.  Here's to hoping that happens; I don't really care to think about the alternative right now.

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