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Missouri's 20 biggest wins, No. 5: Tigers 21, Penn State 8 (1960)

Once more: This is a look at 20 games in which a) the combined quality of Missouri and its opponent was really, really high (they're ranked in order of combined S&P+ percentile ratings), and b) Mizzou won.

The 1960s basically began and ended with games against Penn State. The Tigers and Nittany Lions squared off in the third game of 1960 and the last game of 1969.

Win
Rank
Date Opponent Result Mizzou
Score
Opp.
Score
Mizzou
Percentile
Rk Opp.
Percentile
Rk Percentile
Sum
5 10/1/60 Penn State W 21 8 0.930 5 0.950 3 1.881
6 9/8/75 Alabama W 20 7 0.897 12 0.983 2 1.880
7 9/9/78 Notre Dame W 3 0 0.889 16 0.984 3 1.873
8 10/23/10 Oklahoma W 36 27 0.906 14 0.961 5 1.867
9 10/23/76 Nebraska W 34 24 0.942 12 0.923 17 1.865
10 1/3/14 Oklahoma State W 41 31 0.935 6 0.923 9 1.858
11 11/18/78 Nebraska W 35 31 0.889 16 0.967 7 1.856
12 9/20/69 Air Force W 19 17 0.955 4 0.896 18 1.851
13 11/18/39 Oklahoma W 7 6 0.913 15 0.936 9 1.849
14 11/28/14 Arkansas W 21 14 0.868 23 0.976 5 1.844
15 10/12/13 Georgia W 41 26 0.935 6 0.907 11 1.842
16 10/4/69 Michigan W 40 17 0.955 4 0.882 20 1.838
17 10/5/68 Army W 7 3 0.930 7 0.905 13 1.835
18 11/12/83 Oklahoma State W 16 10 0.921 10 0.914 12 1.835
19 10/13/73 Nebraska W 13 12 0.851 21 0.975 4 1.826
20 11/5/83 Oklahoma W 10 0 0.921 10 0.893 14 1.814

From our Mizzou's Greatest piece on the 1960 season:

After two relatively easy contests, Mizzou traveled to Pennsylvania for its first true test of the season. For better, worse, and better again, Danny LaRose put on a show against the 20th-ranked Nittany Lions of Penn State. The 6-foot-4 senior from Crystal City made his first pitch for All-American honors (which he would end up receiving) by setting up residence in the Penn State backfield.

Two iffy early punts from LaRose gave Penn State solid field position, but constant pressure from LaRose ended drives. He caught a first-half touchdown pass that helped give Mizzou a 14-0 halftime lead, but then he tipped a third-quarter pass from Nittany Lions quarterback Galen Hall, and it ended up getting caught for a touchdown. Finally, he intercepted a fourth-quarter pass to help seal the win.

A late 13-yard touchdown run by Norris Stevenson put the game out of reach; Mizzou won, 21-8. The game won some due attention for both Mizzou, who moved to No. 11 in the AP Poll, and for LaRose himself.

Penn State generated a yardage advantage because of late drives that only once reached the end zone, but Mizzou controlled the game when it counted. Early PSU fumbles gave Mizzou the edge, and 180 rugged rushing yards helped the Tigers to maintain it.

Dan Devine's Missouri defense dared PSU quarterback Galen Hall to beat the Tigers with his arm, and while he had his moments (he was 11-for-23 for 113 yards, plus the deflected touchdown pass), his three interceptions were devastating to Penn State's cause.

Mizzou's deep backfield wore Penn State down. Mel West rushed 16 times for ust 48 yards, but Stevenson added six for 39, Norman Beal had 6 for 29, Donnie Smith four for 28, and Ed Mehrer five for 22.

By now we know the story of 1960 pretty well. Mizzou had already been playing well, but this win seemed to spark the Tigers even further. They beat Air Force by 26, Kansas State by 45, Iowa State by 26, and Nebraska by 28. After a rugged 16-6 win over No. 18 Colorado, they went to Norman and scored both a conference title and the No. 1 ranking with a 41-19 wipeout of Oklahoma. [Redacted.] Yadda yadda yadda, Mizzou finished an undefeated campaign with a 21-14 win over Navy and Heisman winner Joe Bellino in the Orange Bowl.

This was the closest Missouri has come to winning a national title, and the win in Happy Valley solidified to any lingering doubters just how good Devine's squad was.