Photo via Bill Carter.
And now, the continuation of the post that began earlier...
Good Enough To Give Themselves A Chance, Young Enough To Screw It Up
This was an annoying tease of a game that finished with a semi-predictable result. In the first half, the defense scuffled to figure out how to slow OSU down, but the offense kept up for the most part. (First half yards per play: OSU 6.6, Mizzou 5.8.) In the second and third quarters, the defense settled in (OSU's first five drives: 42 plays, 314 yards, 24 points; OSU's next three drives: 12 plays, 20 yards, 0 points) and gave the offense a chance to even the game ... and the offense kept blowing it. (Mizzou's second-half drives: INT-Punt-Fumble-Downs-TD-INT-INT.)
This has, to one degree or another, been the story all season. Against good teams (Mizzou's losses have come to teams with a combined record of 25-3), Mizzou has been competitive, athletic and occasionally explosive. They have hinted at quite a bit of potential, and they have repeatedly gotten in their own way at the wrong times. As I said last week, the goals for this week have to be 1) bowl eligibility and 2) show hints that another breakthrough (like 2007, 2008 and 2010) could be on the horizon. I've seen enough to be reassured that (2) is quite possible. However, (1) remains a concern. I'm a positivity-based guy, but even with glimpses of potential and a hard schedule, it will be difficult for me to spin a 5-7 season (or, technically, worse) as anything but a disappointment.
The script for bowl eligibility remains the same, of course: 1) beat Texas Tech and Kansas and 2) beat either Baylor, Texas or Texas A&M. After Tech's startling win last night, I guess you could switch this to 1) beat Kansas and 2) go at least 2-2 versus Baylor, Texas, Texas A&M and Texas Tech. Yesterday was a missed opportunity, but the potential is still there, and I'm still confident that Mizzou ends up at least 6-6, even if they fall to 3-6 after these two upcoming road games.
MUtigers.com: Tigers Fall To No. 6 Cowboys, 45-24
MUtigers.com: Mizzou/Oklahoma State Post-Game Notes
The Trib: Tigers no match for Cowboys
The Trib: MU’s poor 3rd quarter spells doom
The Missourian: Missouri fails to capitalize on opportunities in 45-24 loss to Oklahoma State
PowerMizzou: OSU brings Mizzou to its knees
PowerMizzou: Sunday Grade Card
Post-Dispatch: Another jolt for Mizzou
Daily Oklahoman: Joseph Randle scores 4 TDs as No. 4 Cowboys stay unbeaten
KBIA Sports Extra: Untimely turnovers kill Missouri’s upset chances against Oklahoma State
PowerMizzou: PMTV-HD: Pinkel post-game
The Missourian: PHOTO GALLERY: Missouri Tigers lose 45-24 against Oklahoma State
The Missourian: PHOTO GALLERY: Tailgating, band practice, football antics fill pre-game near stadium
Oklahoma State: Good
They are incredibly experienced, they are fast at every position, they tackle well, they throw to any of nine different targets (well, eight, now that Hubert Anyiam is out, I guess), they tip passes, they make the little plays, they have good special teams ... I got a deja vu feeling yesterday, quickly coming to the understanding of what it must have been like to play against Missouri's 2007 squad. People want to boil this squad down to "Brandon Weeden and Justin Blackmon," but they are so much more than that, and they continue to show it every week.
Tulsa World (Dave Sittler): Legit Cowboys make it tough to be a doubter
Daily Oklahoman: Doubt these Cowboys at your own risk
Daily Oklahoman: OSU center Grant Garner: ‘It always feels a lot better to run the ball'
Daily Oklahoman: OSU report card: Cowboys get high marks for turnover production, uniforms
The Trib: Minus star, OSU keeps on rolling
If the defense plays like it did the last three quarters yesterday, then they will at least give themselves a shot in trips to A&M and Baylor these two coming weeks. They are going to give up points and yards, but that's because A&M and Baylor will get points and yards versus anybody. Players like E.J. Gaines (4.5 tackles, 1 INT, 3 PBU), Dominique Hamilton (2.5 tackles, 2.0 TFL/sacks), Andrew Wilson (6.0 tackles, 1.5 TFL) and Zaviar Gooden (8.5 tackles, 1.5 TFL, 1 PBU) showed they still have a high ceiling, and if Mizzou gets their safety issue figured out -- Matt White just isn't the answer this year, at least not yet -- then this is a defense that will likely continue to have an impact, even if it isn't as much as we hoped to see this year. (And no, allowing "only" 533 yards and 6.6 yards per play to Oklahoma State is not necessarily a sign of regression.)
The Farewell Tour
I grew up with Missouri as my favorite team (even though they were never on television and were usually terrible) and Oklahoma State as my (distant) No. 2. If Mizzou is to leave for the SEC, this will actually help me in a way, as it will allow me to occasionally root for OSU without fearing that OSU's success will come at Mizzou's detriment. (This was a similar problem with K-State recently, as I wanted friends like TB and Panjandrum to be happy while hoping K-State didn't do too well. Not that this is an issue with, um, current new personalities at BOTC.)
Anyway, Mizzou quite possibly just said goodbye to another Big 12 foe, and it feels weird. Like I've said before, if Mizzou does leave, we'll look at a schedule with opponents like Tennessee, Georgia, Florida and Kentucky on it next year, and we won't really step back and realize who isn't on the schedule for a while (just like Big 12 fans will notice TCU and potentially another newcomer without thinking about the schedule's lack of Missouri and Texas A&M). But this is still some serious change, and it's a shame that Missouri is now 1-3 against potential "former" rivals so far this year.