By October 27, 2007, the stakes were growing clear. No one knew that Mizzou would end up rising to No. 1 in the BCS rankings, but the Tigers were up to 13th, and it was beginning to look like they were on a collision course with the upstarts to the west, unbeaten No. 9 Kansas. Winner would get a shot at Oklahoma, which had needed some fourth-quarter Sooner Magic to get past Mizzou two weeks prior.
Missouri had put together its three best performances of the season when Iowa State came to town, and the Tigers did exactly what they needed to do early on to make sure that Paul Rhoads’ first Cyclone team couldn’t start thinking about an upset.
But then they went into cruise control. And it was extremely costly.
As was the custom, Mizzou won the toss and elected to receive. Chase Daniel completed three passes to Martin Rucker for 38 yards, and a personal foul penalty set up a goal-to-go situation. Jimmy Jackson scored from a yard out — his fifth touchdown in three games — and Mizzou was up 7-0 with barely two minutes gone.
ISU punted, Mizzou drove 79 yards for another score (a seven-yarder by Tony Temple, back after missing time with injury). 14-0, eight minutes in. Easy peasy.
You could almost sense the Tigers beginning to congratulate themselves. They’d been playing at such a high level, and ISU was the least impressive team Mizzou had faced since Illinois State. As soon as they built the two-touchdown cushion, things changed. ISU drove into Mizzou territory before punting after a Stryker Sulak sack, and Mizzou went three-and-out. ISU drove a little further before punting, and then Devin McDowell stepped in front of a Daniel pass at the Mizzou 25 and took it in for a touchdown. Game on.
Slapped in the face, Mizzou responded with a nice Jeremy Maclin punt return, a couple of first downs, and a 36-yard Jeff Wolfert field goal. But the Cyclones, growing in confidence, drove 68 yards for a touchdown. Mizzou added a 48-yard Wolfert bomb before the break, but after bolting to an easy lead, the Tigers led just 20-14 at halftime.
As was quickly becoming the custom, the third quarter belonged to Mizzou, at least to a degree. Sulak sacked and stripped ISU’s Bret Meyer, and Lorenzo Williams recovered the ball in the end zone for a touchdown and a 28-14 cushion. ISU came right back with a long touchdown drive, but Mizzou went 69 yards and scored on a 10-yarder to Rucker. The teams traded punts, but the Tigers held a 14-point advantage heading into the fourth quarter.
There’s a reason why you want to insert the dagger as soon as possible when you’re up comfortable. Number one, it eliminates the possibility of some fluky comeback. Number two, it can get your starters off the field. When Mizzou scored on a 17-yard Maclin run to make it 42-21 with 11:24 left, the game was over for all intents and purposes. But it was still a little too early to take the starters out, and when ISU’s Alexander Robinson scored on a 37-yard touchdown run with 7:19 remaining, it ensured that the starters probably weren’t coming out.
With 3:39 remaining, Pig Brown tackled Robinson at the end of a nine-yard gain. It was the last play he would make in a Mizzou uniform. He would soon be helped off the field after rupturing his Achilles tendon. His year, and career, were over.
In just eight games, Brown put together an incredible stat line: 41 solo tackles, 29 assists, eight tackles for loss (from the safety position!), three interceptions, four breakups, a forced fumble, two fumble recoveries (one returned 100 yards), and a blocked kick. He was a surefire All-American — hell, that’s Thorpe Award stuff right there — and he was the heart of a defense that consistently put itself in positions to require some extra heart.
Ziggy Hood put away ISU’s minuscule hopes with a fourth-down sack to seal the game. But this was one of the most disappointing two-touchdown wins Mizzou had ever experienced. The Tigers failed to insert the dagger when they had the chance, and because of it, they would head into their most important November in ages without their best player.
- Total yards: ISU 389 (4.5 per play), Mizzou 366 (5.6). ISU was able to move the chains and keep the ball out of the Tigers’ hands, snapping the ball 22 more times than the home team.
- Third downs: ISU 11-for-20, Mizzou 6-for-11. The Cyclones created constant third-and-manageables.
- Daniel: 28-for-37, 250 yards, 1 TD, 1 INT; 4 carries, 11 yards
- Maclin: 7 catches for 65 yards, 5 carries for 26 yards and a TD.
- Rucker and Chase Coffman: 9 catches, 81 yards, 1 TD
- Danario Alexander, Jason Ray, and Tommy Saunders: 10 catches, 88 yards. ISU did a solid enough job of taking away Mizzou’s primary options that Daniel had to get resourceful.