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Missouri's 20 biggest wins, No. 16: Tigers 40, Michigan 17 (1969)

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.

In our last installment in this series, Missouri won a game despite its offense. The next year, it beat another awesome team because of its offense.

Date Opponent Result Mizzou
Rk Opp.
Rk Percentile
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

In 1959, Missouri handed Bump Elliott his first loss as Michigan head coach. It was a harbinger -- a postwar star for the Wolverines on the field, Elliott couldn't sustain the level of success Michigan fans expected. He went to the Rose Bowl in 1964 and finished 8-2 in 1968, but he moved to an associate AD role in 1969, clearing the way for an all-time great.

Bo Schembechler was an assistant for Woody Hayes at Ohio State before leading the Miami (Ohio) program with capable hands for six years. If anything, he is almost underrated; he is clearly regarded as an all-time great, but his lack of a national title distracts just a bit from the fact that, in 21 years leading UM, he won or shared 13 Big Ten titles and finished in the AP top 10 16 times.

In 1969, his first Wolverine team finished just 8-3 but upset Hayes' Buckeyes, stealing a Rose Bowl bid and depriving Ohio State of a national title. They finished ninth in the AP poll and would proced to go 50-4-1 over the next five years.

But first, as was the custom of the day, Schembechler had to lose to Missouri.

Catching Michigan early was probably good. Two weeks after Missouri, Michigan also lost to Michigan State. But from that point forward, they dominated. They outscored four conference foes by an average of 45-6 before knocking off Ohio State. Still, the Wolverines had already proven themselves dangerous; they had begun the season by outscoring Vanderbilt and Washington by a combined 87-21. Missouri, meanwhile, had limped by Air Force (19-17) before destroying a terrible Illinois team in St. Louis (37-6).

Big things were expected of Mizzou in 1969; the Tigers had gone 8-3 in 1968 and finished ninth in the polls, and they were ranked 10th in the '69 preseason. It was No. 9 vs. No. 13 in Week 3; if ESPN Gameday were a thing, it would have been in Ann Arbor. Mizzou put on a show regardless.

Early on, however, Michigan controlled matters. The Wolverines twice drove into field goal range, with Tim Killian making one 40-yard kick and hitting the upright with another. But with the field tilted completely in their favor, they drove again for another score. But at the three-yard line, quarterback Joe Moorhead was hit and fumbled. An interception killed the ensuing Mizzou drive, but another Michigan fumble, this time from running back Glenn Doughty, set Mizzou up nicely. The Tigers tied the game with a 26-yard Henry Brown field goal.

It was the start of a massive Mizzou run. The Tigers would outscore the Wolverines 24-0 in the second quarter, effectively putting the game away at halftime. Dennis Poppe picked off Moorehead, setting up a two-yard touchdown run by fullback Ron McBride. After a Michigan punt, Joe Moore ripped off a 30-yard gain to set up a short John Staggers score. Then, right before halftime, Mizzou finished a 66-yard scoring drive with another short McBride plunge.

The game wasn't over just yet. A long punt return set Michigan up at the Mizzou 10, and short-yardage back Garvie Craw bulled in to make the score 24-10; after a McBride fumble, Craw dove in on fourth-and-goal to make it 24-17.

But as was the case in the first half, Mizzou waited out Michigan momentum, then created its own. Mike Bennett blocked a Mark Werner punt, setting the Tigers up at Michigan's 12. Brown kicked a 24-yard field goal to push the lead back to two possessions, and then Joe Moore romped 62 yards to put the game away. Mizzou's second-stringers tacked on another score in the final minute, with Chuck Roper connecting with Steve Kenemore on an eight-yard strike. Mizzou had outgained Michigan by a 334-181 margin, and Wolverine miscues turned a well-earned win into a blowout.

40-17! Over a top-15 squad! On the road! Mizzou was awesome in 1969, and this was the Tigers' loudest announcement.

The Tigers would go on to beat three ranked teams -- No. 20 Nebraska (17-7), No. 12 Kansas State (a 41-38 classic), No. 20 Oklahoma (44-10) -- on the way to the Big 8 title. A 31-24 slip-up at Colorado prevented them from taking part in a crowded national title race, but they still finished the regular season 9-1 and sixth in the country, and despite countless turnovers, they stayed with 10-3 of a spectacular Penn State team in the Orange Bowl.