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Mizzou in the '00s: Best Moments of the Decade, #3

10. Basketball: Mizzou 78, Iowa 77 (2001)
9. Volleyball: 2005 Elite Eight
8. Football: 2008 Cotton Bowl
7. Football: 2005 Independence Bowl
6. Basketball: 2002 Elite Eight
5. Basketball: Mizzou 62, Kansas 60 (2009)
4. Wrestling: Ben Askren Wins Mizzou's First National Title (2006)

3. Football: Mizzou 41, Nebraska 24 (2003)

The Beef: Confidence was high to start 2003 that Gary Pinkel was on to something with Brad Smith. The electrifying sophomore had turned in some amazing plays in 2002, but the Tigers fell short of their first bowl since 1998.  2003 would start strong, with the Tigers coming back against Illinois to win in the final minutes on a Smith pass to Darius Outlaw.  A road thrashing of Ball State and home thrashing of Eastern Illinois had the Tigers feeling good.  But a crazy (and OT) win against Middle Tennessee State, followed by a 35-14 thumping at the hands of kU had the Tigers moving in the wrong direction and would have a week to think about it, while all that could be heard from Lincoln was, "The Blackshirts are back".  NU had not given up more than 14 points in any of their first five wins, and had ascended all the way to #7 in the nation by the time the game had arrived.

A TBS-broadcast Saturday night game kicked off in a solid rain, and NU got off to a good start.  But they struggled to catch the ball on kickoffs and turnovers allowed the Tigers to tie the score on a Zack Abron EFFORT run and then take the lead on a dynamite throw-back pass from Outlaw to Smith.  That would be the last the Tigers would score though for over 34 minutes.  By the time the 4th quarter began, NU had a 24-14 lead and anxiety was starting to creep over Faurot.

The next 15 minutes would be perhaps the best 15 minutes the Tigers have played ever, as it started with a zone run from Smith for a 39 yard touchdown to quickly make it 24-21.  From there, it absolutely spiraled out of control for the Huskers.  The first of two turnovers would give Mizzou 1st and goal with a chance to take the lead, but the drive stalled and out walked Mike Matheny and Sonny Riccio to attempt the tying field goal.  What followed was a play forever etched in the memories of Tiger fans.  The quarter would finish with Mizzou pouring it on to complete a 41-24 cathartic win.  4th quarter stats?  Mizzou outgained NU 121 to -29.  Nebraska committed two turnovers, had three penalties and had just ONE play, a three yard run by Horne, which resulted in positive yardage.

Bill C.: Let the record show that this was the only even of the decade that prompted ZouDave and me to make snow angels (well, field turf pellet angels) at midfield while goalposts fell 60 yards away.  That alone puts this in the top three, if you ask me.