clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Missouri’s beaten Purdue only once in 6 tries. Lord, it better be twice in 7 come September.

Looking back at the Tigers’ 1953 upset of the Boilermakers on a sweltering September day.

Missouri's timing has never been particularly good when it comes to playing Purdue. The Tigers are 1-5 all-time against the Boilermakers; they played easily the best Purdue team of the 1980s in the '80 Liberty Bowl and fell, 28-25. They visited West Lafayette in 1954 and 1956, with two of Don Faurot's mediocre final teams. They played twice in the 1900s, when Purdue (like all Midwest Conference teams of the day) was awesome and Missouri ... was not.

Only one time did Mizzou time this battle particularly well. Hopefully once becomes twice in Week 3 of the 2017 season.

Sometimes early-season wins don't end up meaning what you think they mean. When Purdue visited in 1953 as part of Faurot's attempts to upgrade the home schedule, the Boilermakers were coming off of a Big Ten title campaign. They had gone just 4-3-2 the year before, but they were 4-1-1 in conference, they finished 18th in the country with losses only to Notre Dame, unbeaten Michigan State, and Michigan, and they were favored heading into the game.

The 1953 squad was Faurot's last particularly solid one. Mizzou would lose to awesome Maryland and Oklahoma teams by competitive margins (20-6 to the former and 14-7 to the latter) and would otherwise go 6-2, winning at Indiana and Colorado and taking down a six-win Kansas State team at home. (They would also lose at 2-7 Iowa State, but we'll be positive here.)

On a day mostly known for providing Oklahoma with its final loss before the legendary 47-game winning streak, Mizzou welcomed Stuart Holcomb's Boilers to a boiling Memorial Stadium. They took a 14-0 lead into the fourth quarter, and it held up.

COLUMBIA, Mo., Sept. 26—Two St. Louis-area linemen, sparking an inspired Missouri forward wall that outplayed Purdue's favored muscle men up front, today aided the Tigers to a thrilling 14-7 upset over the Big Ten Co-Champions.

The bulky Boilermaker's [sic] line had been figured to make the difference in the fist appearance by a Western Conference team here since Memorial Stadium was built in 1926, but instead it was Ol' Mizzou's forwards who controlled action in sweltering 90-degree heat.

Showing the way for the Black and Gold stalwarts were Ted Follin, St. Louis senior right guard technically ineligible last week, and Alvin Portney, sophomore right tackle from University City. They teamed their talents to block a third-quarter punt and produce the deciding touchdown of a bruising battle. [...]

Another Tiger lineman, Senior Center Loyd Brown, executed a fancy play by checking a long Purdue pass one-handed, intercepting and returning 65 yards to set up the blocked-kick TD and the Tigers' first non-conference victory since they tripped the Oklahoma Aggies here two years ago.

Mizzou drove 80 yads on the first possession of the game before failing at the goal line, then scored in the second quarter to go up 7-0. They outgained the Boilermakers by a 287-276 margin, picked off two passes, and dictated the tempo throughout.

This was certainly a solid Mizzou team, but it turned out to be a rebuilding year for Purdue. (Put this one in the category of the 2002 win over Illinois -- the team may have been good the previous year but would underwhelm.) The Boilermakers would go on to hand Michigan State its only loss of the season with a 6-0 stunner but scored only 89 points all year (30 of which came against Indiana) and limped to a 2-7 finish.

The upset loss at ISU moved Mizzou to just 2-3 a few weeks after this big win, but the Tigers would bounce back, winning four of five to finish with a winning record, Faurot's last.

I’m picking wins for this series, but if you want to look at probably the most interesting game of the Mizzou-Purdue series, the 1980 Liberty Bowl featured two strong teams and a mad late comeback. Mizzou trailed 28-15 but surged to 10 fourth-quarter points to make it a three-point game. But they couldn’t quite come back all the way. A goal line stand early in the fourth quarter loomed large.

The whole game is here. The fourth quarter begins around the 78-minute mark.