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The Best Win in Mizzou History - The Preliminaries (Day Four)

That's right, it's time for the next official Rock M Nation tournament. On the heels of last year's Mizzou 25 competitions and this offseason's Meme Madness, we are now going to spend the next month looking at some of the greatest wins in Mizzou football history and attempting to pinpoint the single biggest one.

But before we can do that, we have to solidify the field of 32 wins. There are four regions, once again skewed slightly toward recency--the 2000s Region, the 1976-2000 Region, the 1963-1975 Region, and the Pre-1963 Region. Seven of the eight games from each region have been chosen, but for the next four days we will be using Play-In Games to set the field.

2000s Region

Today, we complete the Pre-1963 Region. LOTS of candidates here--as mentioned above, this tournament is skewed toward recency.

Needless to say, Don Faurot's teams will have quite an impact on this region.

October 12, 1935: Mizzou 20, Colorado 6

Why it is notable: This one is notable for one simple reason: it was Don Faurot's first win over a real team at Mizzou. The Tigers had started 2-0 with wins over William Jewell (39-0) and CMSU (7-0), but their first real test was the team from Boulder. Here's Bob Broeg's summary:

Could Ol' Mizzou, once proud conquerors of Chicago, Northwestern, Nebraska, and other big-name teams, beat anyone more formidable than a teachers college?

Happily, yes. Against Colorado, led by Bill (Kayo) Lam, a capable back who became the Buffs' business manager of athletics, the Tigers used [Texas Jack] Frye's open field running and passing for two touchdowns. Don Johnson ran 54 yards for a third, making the final score 20-6.

Why it isn't already in the field: First, the win was pretty easy. Second, it was Mizzou's final win of 1935. They would tie Iowa State, Kansas State and Kansas, and lose to Nebraska, Oklahoma, and Wash U., in finishing with a fun record of 3-3-3.

November 4, 1939: Mizzou 27, Nebraska 13

Why it is notable: Before making news by disposing of teams like NYU and Oklahoma later in the season, Mizzou proved they were a force to be reckoned with by welcoming the 10th-ranked Huskers to town and demolishing them with ease. Using Paul Christman's arm as a decoy, Mizzou used the legs of Bill Cunningham to set the pace. Christman completed only four first-half passes, but three of them went for touchdowns. Mizzou led 20-6 at half and coasted. At 5-1, Mizzou would travel to Yankee Stadium the next week to thump NYU and garner serious national attention.

Why it isn't already in the field: Honestly, it simply gets overshadowed by what they accomplished later that season. With the nation's eyes upon them the next week, they beat NYU with ease, and then they came home and beat #5 Oklahoma to win their first conference title since the 1920s.

November 19, 1949: Mizzou 34, Kansas 28

Why it is notable: What a crazy one this was. A hostile crowd of 40,000 welcomed Mizzou to Lawrence, and the favored Tigers were not on their game. They fumbled seven times (including one where QB Phil Klein lined up behind guard instead of center and the ball was snapped to...nobody) and had a punt blocked; but that wasn't even the strangest part of the game. Faulty clock operation meant that the game was probably closer to 90 minutes long than 60, offering Mizzou plenty of time to atone for their mistakes. With more time for more offense, Mizzou rolled up 31 first downs and 665 yards--totals that would be crazy even today--and after falling behind 7-0, they scored four second-quarter touchdowns to go up 27-7 at half. However, the ball started rolling all over the field in Q3, and Kansas responded with three touchdowns to take a shocking 28-27 lead. They retained control of the game for a while, but then it was their turn to fumble, muffing a punt and giving Mizzou a short field. The Tigers took advantage when John Glorioso found Dick Braznell on the option for a 15-yard touchdown, and Jack Frier picked off a Jayhawk pass to clinch a strange win.

Why it isn't already in the field: Kansas (5-5) wasn't very good, and frankly this region is freaking loaded. It was one of the more unique wins Mizzou has ever managed, though.

November 22, 1952: Mizzou 20, Kansas 19

Why it is notable: After a dominating decade in the 1940s, Mizzou was starting to fade under Don Faurot. They went just 6-13-1 in 1950-51 and stood at 4-5 when the rare good KU team (7-2) came to town to wrap up 1952. Mizzou had come oh-so-close to making noise that season, blowing a late lead against defending Sugar Bowl Champion Maryland in the last minute and losing a tight one to lowly OSU. Their play in the clutch had left something to be desired that season, but they came through against the Beakers. Bill Rowekamp raced 82 yards to give Mizzou a 7-6 lead, but KU came back to take a 19-14 lead in the fourth quarter (Why wasn't it 21-14? Because two separate Tigers--Terry Roberts and Charley Phillips--blocked PATs). Instead of folding, however, Mizzou stepped up; sophomore Jack Hurley deflected and picked off a Jerry Robertson pass, and a Tony Scardino keeper gave Mizzou a one-point lead.

KU would drive all the way to the Mizzou 15, and Robertson would find end Jerry Bogue for what appeared to be a sure touchdown, but as Bogue's hands wrapped around the pigskin, little-used back Bill Fessler destroyed him. And I mean, destroyed him. Bogue dropped the ball...and Fessler fell to the ground unconscious. While Fessler tried to regain his senses on the sideline, KU's kicker lost his--an angled 32-yard field goal missed its mark, and playing as hard as any Mizzou team ever had, the Tigers finished 1952 with a win.

Why it isn't already in the field: It is a worthy candidate, but those early-1950s teams were mired in mediocrity overall, and it's easy to overlook some hard-fought wins from that time.

More games after the jump!

November 2, 1957: Mizzou 9, Colorado 6

Why it is notable: Documented here, this game represented Frank Broyles's shining moment from his year in Columbia. In Boulder, his outgunned Tigers upset the #18 Buffaloes, who were loaded with weapons like future All-Pro Boyd Dowler. Defense and a deadly quick kick kept CU backed up all game long, and when Bob Lee blocked a Dowler punt for a safety, Mizzou clinched an unlikely victory, giving them a shocking tie for the conference lead with mighty Oklahoma.

Why it isn't already in the field: Oklahoma crushed Mizzou, and the Tigers ran out of gas, falling from 5-1-1 after the CU game to a final record of 5-4-1. Broyles was demoralized enough by the collapse that he decided he couldn't win in Columbia and jumped at the Arkansas job, which crushed then-AD Don Faurot, who had searched long and hard for his successor...only to have to do it again less than 12 months later. Luckily for Mizzou, he found a good one.

November 8, 1958: Mizzou 33, Colorado 9

Why it is notable: Few games have swung in a more extreme manner than this one. For the second straight year, Mizzou beat Colorado to keep conference title hopes alive, but this time it wasn't a tight defensive least it didn't end up like one. CU led 9-0 in the last minute of the third quarter, but hobbled QB Phil Snowden brought Mizzou back, with help from a series of Buffalo fumbles. Four touchdowns came in quick succession, and Mizzou's Fred Brossart capped the scoring with an 87-yard punt return touchdown. What had looked like a sure defeat for 44 minutes turned into a blowout win.

Why it isn't already in the field: Once again, OU stomped on Mizzou's good time, ending the Tigers' title hopes with a 39-0 whooping. Mizzou would tie KU, 13-13, and once again finish 5-4-1.

September 26, 1959: Mizzou 20, Michigan 15

Why it is notable: With a ton of sophomores contributing, Mizzou had managed to make a little bit of noise (see here, here and here) in 1958, and hopes were high in '59. As they did for most of the 1950s, Mizzou lost their season opener--this time to Penn State--but bounced back in a major way the next week. In front of 50,000 in the Big House, Mel West ripped off a 46-yard touchdown to give Mizzou a lead, but fumbles threatened to derail the Tigers. Capitalizing on turnovers, Michigan took a late 15-14 lead. Thanks to a 'limited substitutions' rule, Mizzou's Bob Haas was forced to play at QB...and all he did was march the Tigers 78 yards for the game-winning touchdown. Haas raced for a pivotal first down on fourth-and-five and found Donny Smith for a long reception as time began to expire. With just two seconds left, Haas sneaked in from a yard out, and Mizzou snuck out of Ann Arbor with an exciting win. Needless to say, former Michigan State assistant Dan Devine enjoyed this one.

Why it isn't already in the field: Mizzou would lose three of four in October, killing any momentum that stemmed from this great win. They bounced back in November, winning their final three games to clinch the unlikeliest of Orange Bowl bids.

October 1, 1960: Mizzou 21, Penn State 8

Why it is notable: Mizzou made some defensive adjustments in November 1959, and it really changed the trajectory of the Dan Devine era. They won three of four to end 1959 (they lost to Georgia in the Orange Bowl) and with an extremely experienced supporting cast, they had started 2-0 in 1960. Their first chance to make a statement came on a trip to State College, where the 19th-ranked Tigers would take on the 20th-ranked Nittany Lions. This was Danny LaRose's coming-out party. He harassed PSU QB Galen Hall all game long, punted beautifully, and caught a 16-yard pass from Ron Taylor to give Mizzou an early lead. Mizzou coasted to a surprisingly easy win in Pennsylvania on the way to their most successful season ever.

Why it isn't already in the field: Have I mentioned how loaded this region is?

November 19, 1960: Kansas 23, Mizzou 7

Why it is notable: That's right, Mizzou's costliest "win" ever. When Jack Mitchell died last week, KU fans reminisced about his time coaching Gale Sayers and John Hadl, and maybe talked about KU's 1961 Bluebonnet Bowl victory, their first ever. Mizzou fans, on the other hand, probably groused a bit about how he knowingly used an ineligible player--Bert Coan--in ruining Mizzou's undefeated season. KU dominated the game and won easily over a hungover Mizzou team (they had beaten OU and moved to #1 in the country the week before), but were forced to later forfeit the game. The damage was done, of course. Mizzou fell from #1, and even though they beat Navy in the Orange Bowl and finished the season "undefeated," KU had prevented the Tigers from staking a claim to their first national title.

In the end, this is what makes the MU-KU rivalry great--first of all, the only time either of them had a real chance at a national title that late in the season, they lost to their (cheating) rival; second, in only this rivalry can the two rivals disagree about the overall series record. (Of course, even in KU's media guide they acknowledge that they were forced to forfeit this one...meaning Mizzou's account of the series record is correct, whether KU wants to admit it or not.)

Why it isn't already in the field: Well, there's the tiny issue of the scoreboard. Hard to get to excited about this "win."

September 30, 1961: Mizzou 6, Minnesota 0

Why it is notable: Here's how you know you've established yourself as a program: you almost win a national title, you graduate a ridiculous number of big-time contributors, your offensive production is cut in half...and you come within ten points of an undefeated season. Mizzou went 7-2-1 in 1961, tying Cal (7-7) and losing to Colorado (7-6) and Oklahoma (7-0). But most notably, they got an opportunity for revenge after strange circumstances cost them a title the year before. In the second game of the season, they got a chance to beat the team who did win the national title. They traveled to Minneapolis and, amid late-September sleet and snow (are we sure an outdoor stadium in Minnesota is a good idea?), dispatched of the champs, completely shutting down an explosive offense with coffin-corner kicking and a leaping touchdown catch from Carl Crawford. Mizzou gave up just 57 points all season, and shutting out the big-time Gopher offense was quite a statement to make.

Why it isn't already in the field: Lowly Cal snuck up and tied Mizzou the next week, casting a bit of a pall on the big win. Mizzou still had a good season, though.

November 25, 1961: Mizzou 10, Kansas 7

Why it is notable: The 1961 Jayhawks were one of KU's best squads ever. They hosted Mizzou in the season finale, needing just a win over the Tigers to clinch a conference title and Orange Bowl bid. But after they wrecked the Tigers' title chances the year before, it was time for the tables to turn. KU scored early, but a 27-yard field goal from Bill Tobin, who had missed a potential game-winner against Colorado a few weeks earlier, brought Mizzou to within 7-3 at halftime. The score remained 7-3 into the fourth quarter, when Mizzou rallied. Hobbled QB Ron Taylor led Mizzou on an 80-yard touchdown drive; he faked a handoff to FB Paul Underhill and pitched to Tobin, who scored from three yards out to give Mizzou an improbable 10-7 win. To add insult to injury, they were offered a Bluebonnet Bowl bid over Kansas; severely hobbled by injuries, however, they turned it down, handing the Jayhawks a charity win over Rice. In other words, KU's first bowl win came only because Mizzou had turned down a bid.

Why it isn't already in the field: The satisfaction of revenge was really about all that stood out in this affair. Still, though, that's a pretty good reason for inclusion, huh?

Seriously, good luck picking only one of these.