Every good story provides some foreshadowing — not so much that the ending becomes obvious, but just enough to tie everything in a neat bow. Mizzou wrapped up a win over Texas A&M with a sack in the end zone; it obviously wasn’t the last time that would happen in 2007.
After their devastating, 55-10 win over Colorado, Gary Pinkel’s Tigers returned home for Senior Day, playing host to a 6-4 Texas A&M team facing its third ranked opponent in as many weeks.
The Aggies had plenty of talent — Stephen McGee at quarterback, Jorvorskie Lane and Mike Goodson at running back, Martellus Bennett at tight end, Cyril Obiozor and Michael Bennett on defense (plus a freshman by the name of Von Miller) — but were struggling with consistency in Dennis Franchione’s final season in charge.
The Aggies had begun the season ranked 25th and rose to 20th before a loss at Miami. They romped over Nebraska on the road and nearly took down Kansas at home, but they had also gotten blown out at Texas Tech (35-7) and Oklahoma (42-14). They would put up a solid fight in Columbia, but said fight wouldn’t really begin until the second half.
Despite an early special teams glitch, Mizzou did what it needed to in the first half. The Tigers took the ball to start the game (shocking, I know), and on their fifth play, Tony Temple rushed 44 yards over left end to put Mizzou up 7-0. A&M punted, but Mizzou was forced to do the same, and an errant snap resulted in an A&M safety. After a series of punts, the first quarter ended with the Tigers leading, 7-2.
Patience got Mizzou rolling again. The Tigers drove 87 yards in 17 plays, eating nearly seven minutes off of the clock and eventually scoring on a third-and-goal pass from Chase Daniel to Chase Coffman. A&M responded with a 73-yard touchdown drive, but Mizzou all but put the game away over the final 10 minutes of the first half. Jeff Wolfert nailed a 32-yard field goal, William Moore picked off a long pass from McGee, and with 1:43 left in the half, Jeremy Maclin caught a short pass from Daniel, received some utterly perfect blocking, and tiptoed the sideline for an 82-yard catch-and-run.
Mizzou was up 24-9 at halftime, and considering how much the Tigers had been owning the third quarter of late, it was easy to assume a blowout was on the horizon. Not so much.
A&M drove 75 yards in just six plays to start the second half, and Lane’s two-yard plunge cut Mizzou’s lead to 24-16. Mizzou drove into Aggie territory, but Alton Dixon forced and recovered a Daniel fumble, and a few plays later, A&M had a first-and-goal from the Mizzou 3. A touchdown and two-point conversion could tie the game.
- First-and-goal: McGee fired incomplete to Martellus Bennett.
- Second-and-goal: Tommy Chavis stops Lane for a one-yard gain.
- Third-and-goal: Sean Weatherspoon stops Goodson for a loss of two.
(I’ve mentioned Chavis quite a bit in this series, by the way. I think that dude was more important to this team than he gets credit for in retrospect.)
Matt Szymanski made a 22-yard field goal to cut Mizzou’s lead to 24-19 with 3:39 left in the third, but the stop was huge. It wasn’t the last one the Tiger defense would have to make.
Mizzou’s second offensive possession of the half was short. After a 13-yard pass from Daniel to Danario Alexander, the Tigers gained one yard in three plays and punted. The fourth quarter would begin with A&M at the Mizzou 34.
Mizzou’s defense created some of its own adversity, but all year the Tigers made the stops they needed to make. A&M advanced to the Mizzou 13, but Justin Garrett and Weatherspoon stuffed Lane on first down, and William Moore ate up Earvin Taylor for a seven-yard loss on third-and-9. The huge TFL pushed the Aggies backwards, and Szymanski proceeded to miss a 36-yard field goal wide right.
Finally the Tiger offense got back on track. Temple rushed four times for 29 yards, Daniel completed passes to Will Franklin and Martin Rucker, and on third-and-2 from the Aggie 6, Jimmy Jackson burst into the end zone to give Mizzou a 31-19 lead...
...that A&M almost immediately cut to 31-26. McGee and Bennett connected for 42 yards. 31-26.
That was okay, though, because by this point Missouri realized it could run the ball. Maclin for nine yards. Temple for five. Temple for 13. Daniel for five. Jackson for six, nine, and five. Jackson for five. With the A&M defense sufficiently on its heels, Daniel found Maclin for a 12-yard score and a 38-26 lead.
And on the next snap, Lorenzo Williams sacked McGee for a 10-yard loss in the end zone. Ballgame.
Missouri faced a little more adversity than it would have preferred in this one, but the Tigers also responded to it with aplomb. On two potential game-tying or go-ahead drives, Mizzou made huge stops. And with the game on the line in the fourth quarter, the offense couldn’t be stopped.
- Total yards: Mizzou 555 (6.6 per play), A&M 380 (5.7)
- First downs: Mizzou 32, A&M 17
- Fourth quarter time of possession: Mizzou 10:21, A&M 4:39
- Daniel: 27-for-35, 352 yards, 3 TDs, 1 sack; 9 non-sack carries for 21 yards
- Temple: 22 carries for 141 yards and 1 TD, plus 1 catch for 19. November Tony Temple was one of the best running backs in Mizzou history.
- Maclin: 5 catches for 146 yards and 2 TDs; 4 carries for 32 yards.
- Rucker and Coffman: 9 catches for 76 yards and a TD.
- Jackson and Derrick Washington: 11 carries for 44 yards; 4 catches for 30 yards.
- Franklin and Tommy Saunders: 6 catches for 65 yards.
- Williams and Chavis: 5 solo tackles, 3 assists, 2.5 tackles for loss, 2 sacks
- Moore: 4 solo tackles, 2 assists, 1 TFL, 1 INT, 1 PBU. Moore was raising his game nicely in Pig Brown’s absence.
Mizzou was now up to 9-1 and would rise to sixth in the polls. The Tigers were one trip to Manhattan away from a date with destiny at Arrowhead. Of course, they hadn’t won in Manhattan since 1989...