10. Four minutes, four scores.
The rest of the game was in no way memorable, but approximately eight minutes into the 2012 season, it seemed all was well for the Missouri Tigers. T.J. Moe made a diving touchdown catch four minutes into the game. Then, 42 seconds later, Zaviar Gooden picked off a Nathan Stanley pass and took it 20 yards to the house. Mizzou forced a punt, and Kendial Lawrence took a hand-off 76 yards for a touchdown. After the kickoff and a false start, Kony Ealy obliterated Stanley and jarred the ball loose, and Michael Sam picked up and took it seven yards for another score.
With 7:10 left in the first quarter, it was 28-0 Mizzou. That was fun.
9. DGB and Jimmie Hunt torch Syracuse early.
Mizzou had just beaten Tennessee and was 60 minutes from a bowl bid that felt improbable just a week before. And early on, it looked like it was going to be pretty easy. James Franklin found Dorial Green-Beckham on a short screen, and DGB took it 70 yards for a touchdown two minutes into the game. After a Syracuse field goal, Franklin fount Hunt over the middle, and Hunt juked out most of the Syracuse defense on the way to the end zone. Yes, this game will be featured extensively in tomorrow's list. But 10 minutes into the game, this one felt great.
8. Bud Sasser catches the best pass of the season.
We swore that it had to be an accident. With Mizzou down, 16-9, early in the fourth quarter, following basically 2.5 quarters of complete ineptitude following James Franklin's ill-timed knee injury, Corbin Berkstresser threw a pass that, at first glance, looked like it had seriously overshot a double-covered Marcus Lucas. But then it hit Bud Sasser in stride about 20 yards further downfield. Eighty-five yards away from where the play started, Sasser had scored what looked like a game-saving touchdown. It didn't turn out that way, of course, but assuming that pass really was intentional ... wow, what a pass.
7. Sheldon's strip-and-run.
You will probably see this play multiple times on the first night of the draft, when Sheldon Richardson likely becomes Missouri's sixth first-round draft pick since 2009. With Kentucky following a pretty impressive script downfield on its opening drive, Richardson single-handedly put an end to things by first swallowing up running back Jonathan George, then ripping the ball from his hands, then picking the ball up and rumbling 60 yards in the other direction. Four plays later, it was 7-0, Mizzou. Mizzou's offense never really got going, but the Tigers were also never seriously threatened thanks to Sheldon's early bully act.
6. DGB sends defenders flying.
In the fifth game of his career, decorated recruit Dorial Green-Beckham introduced himself to college football.
DGB would follow this game up by getting himself arrested and suspended, and he disappeared again for most of the Alabama and Kentucky games before putting together a lovely November. But this was one hell of an impression.
5. "Um, are we about to beat Florida?"
I was fearing the worst. Knowing Mizzou needed two more wins for bowl eligibility, my main goal before Mizzou's trip to Gainesville was simply not getting anybody else hurt. Instead, Mizzou's defense put together a dominant performance, and the offense moved the ball much better than I anticipated. Of course, Mizzou was unable to turn yards into points and eventually fell, 14-7. But when Kendial Lawrence scored from one yard out with 6:10 remaining in the second quarter, it suddenly felt like Mizzou was about to turn its entire season around. Again, we're talking moments here. And for about an hour in the early afternoon on November 3, it felt like Mizzou was about to beat No. 8 Florida in The Swamp.
4. DGB tells James Franklin to find him in the end zone.
On fourth-and-the-season, DGB told James Franklin he'd be open in the front corner of the end zone. He was.
3. The Stand, I and II.
In Corbin Berkstresser's first start, Mizzou rode early turnovers to leads of 17-0 and 24-7. But the Tigers had to hold on for dear life in the fourth quarter. ASU scored twice early in the final stanza, and with under five minutes remaining, the Sun Devils were once again driving. But on second-and-goal from the 1, Matt Hoch and Braylon Webb stuffed mobile quarterback Michael Eubank for no gain. On third-and-goal, Kony Ealy, in his best game of the season, destroyed the tackle and stopped Eubank for a two-yard loss.
Of course, Mizzou had to do it all over again 90 seconds later after a three-and-out by the Mizzou offense. But a Walker pick in the end zone sealed a tough win for the Tigers.
2. Andrew Baggett takes down Tennessee.
It felt like Missouri was going to lose on about 26 different occasions in their first trip to Knoxville. It really did. But following a late comeback, and some tit-for-tat offense in overtime, and a fantastic fourth-down PBU by Ian Simon, Andrew Baggett got a chance to finish the game. He didn't miss.
1. L'Damian Washington beats Georgia deep.
It probably says a lot about the 2012 season that the best moment (to me) came in a loss. But it did. At halftime of this game, with Missouri up 10-9, I turned to The Beef and said, "Well, we've proven we belong. Now it would be a damn shame if we didn't go ahead and win." And three minutes into the second half, L'Damian Washington made us think the Tigers actually would.
Just using the "How high did I jump off of the ground when the play occurred?" scale, this play has to be No. 1. Mizzou was going to win this game, they were going to go about 10-2, and they might win the SEC East. It didn't happen, of course. Mizzou succumbed, first to Jarvis Jones, then to James Franklin's injury, then to South Carolina, then to another James Franklin injury, then to another couple of offensive line injuries, then to Sheldon Richardson's suspension, then to Alec Lemon. But approximately six quarters into the 2012 season, it all felt like it was going to work out right.