Sports have many narrative similarities to your favorite TV shows like Game of Thrones or a soap-opera like Days of Our Lives. The bigger events like Conference Championships or Bowl Games can feel like blockbuster movies. Rock M Reviews is a series designed to treat Mizzou Football games like a film critic would your favorite show or movie. This fall, Alec Blome has agreed to review Missouri Football games in that spirit for Rock M Nation.
A young man (Chase Daniel) returns home to Texas for one final adventure with his college buddies before graduation. As soon as the group reaches The Alamo, however, they find themselves stalked and hunted by a Wildcat named Whiskerface.
3 stars (out of 5) You're killin' it, Smalls!
Missouri vs Northwestern ('08) had pretty much everything one would expect from a typical Mizzou horror. A lone survivor. A cool villain. An uneven script. A running game cut off at the knees. Graphic, unnecessary interceptions. Poor decision-making by pretty much everyone involved. Wide open receivers. Screaming. So much screaming… by me… at the TV, and the wide open receivers strewn across the field. Suffice it to say, this game was not for everybody but it did offer up a moment or two of bone-chilling action that lovers of the genre will find most satisfying.
This particular game saw our hero, Chase Daniel, on the verge of graduation and on the cusp of professional footballing. A bright future beyond college lie ahead but right now all he can think about is touring a historical landmark and partying one last time with his boys in Texas' Paradise City. That's right, beautiful San Antonio - where the grass is brown and tickets to The Alamo are free between the hours of 9am and 5:30.
As so often happens in this genre, a creepy local working the Alamo counter warns the group of trouble ahead in the Valero Alamo Bowl. In predictable fashion, the creeper's warning goes unheeded and we cut to the team speeding down the highway into certain doom. Cue "Sweet Home Alabama".
All seems well early on for Chase and crew but before he can say "Hey, did you hear a noise? I'm gonna go check it out", a masked man with whiskers as fierce as chainsaws appears out of nowhere, intercepting Daniel's tipped-pass. While the team splits up to investigate, Northwestern punches it in for a touchdown. Who saw that coming?
Later, Daniel finds himself running from danger once again and pulls the football equivalent of "escaping to the attic" by throwing yet another interception, this time directly to Whiskerface. It's at this point in the game when I'm now yelling at the screen "What the hell are you doing?! Don't do that. You never do that. That's so stupid. Always run the other way. Always! Damn! … What the hell is a Whiskerface?"
After aimlessly running around for most of the first half, Mizzou finally delivers a striking blow via a Jeremy Maclin 75-yard punt return for touchdown, tying the game at 10-10. This would prove bittersweet, though, as fan-favorite Maclin subsequently disappears never to be heard from again… or would he?
Speaking of fan-favorites, let me take a moment to mention how much I loved this cast despite the team's overall under-achieving performance. Linebacker Sean Weatherspoon (12.5 tckls) as the muscle. Speedy wide receiver Maclin (7 rec, 2 TDs) as the flashy well-dressed suave type. Tight end Chase Coffman (7 rec, 67 yds) as the zany dude always getting into trouble. Star quarterback back Chase Daniel (200 yds, 2 TDs, 3 INTs) as the "aww schucks" boy next door. Kicker Jeff Wolfert (3/4 FG, 3 XP) as the nerd with a car. Willie the Wildcat as the demented mascot hell-bent on ruining everyone's day. A punter. All in all, a well-rounded cast of characters.
My biggest concern and only real gripe came early in the third quarter. The defense - while delivering a strong performance most of the game - felt it necessary to leave a wide receiver inexplicably uncovered, resulting in a Northwestern touchdown and continued cries of "What are you doing?!" Being familiar with Matt Eberflus produced defenses, I've come to expect this with every game he's associated with.
Midway through the third, we are led to believe Chase has finally figured out how to defeat Whiskerface when he fires a rocket to Danario Alexander, giving Mizzou a 17-16 lead. Silly us, though, as minutes later Daniel does what oh so many in his position have done before. He drops his weapon, runs back into the house and throws his third interception of the game. Before we know it, MU is trailing 23-20 and we're cursing our self for watching a game so trite.
Wolfert - the kicker - eventually ties it up 23-23 and even has a chance to win it in regulation but, c'mon, we all know how this movie plays out. Chase Daniel is the star, the looks and an actual quarterback whose name alone screams leading man. Jeff Wolfert is the designated band geek, the afterthought and a kicker whose name screams, ya know, kicker. Realistically he never had a chance as his 44 yard field goal attempt flew wide right as time expired.
In overtime Chase Daniel eventually comes face-to-face with Whiskerface for what would be his last play as a Missouri Tiger. In cheap horror fashion, he yells out "Eat this, hairball!", while delivering a final death-blow to the masked cat by way of a clutch touchdown pass to… Jeremy Maclin! Yes, that Jeremy Maclin. He was alive the entire time and open over the middle. Who saw that coming?
Missouri survives: 30-23.
Summary: In the end, The Valero Alamo Bowl proved less "massacre" and more "lackluster." It was inherently sloppy, heavy on cheap scares, bad dialogue and overly long for it felt as though it could have been easily wrapped up in the 4th quarter. On the bright side, Mizzou finished the season with a bowl win, Whiskerface became a thing and Chase Daniel did what Chase Daniel does: survive.
What do you think? Rate the game below using the Smalls-o-meter and find out what the rest of Mizzou Nation thinks.
Rock M Review Ratings
*You're killin' it, Smalls (60% or more Mizzou fans rate the game positively)
*You're killin' me, Smalls (59% or fewer Mizzou fans rate the game positively)
Genre: Horror, Slasher / Rated PG-13 (for language, moments of light horror, cheesy one-liners and whiskers)
Starring: Chase Daniel, Sean Weatherspoon, Jeremy Maclin, Chase Coffman and Jeff Wolfert
Featuring: Willie the Wildcat as Whiskerface
Produced by: Dave Christensen and Matt Eberflus
Directed by: Gary Pinkel