After two stops in 2013, our seventh stop in this 2017-in-history trip takes us back five decades.
Idaho holds a place in Missouri’s history: the Vandals were the first team Dan Devine beat on the Mizzou sideline. After a 12-8 debut loss to Vanderbilt in 1958, Mizzou barely survived Skip Stahley’s Vandals, who were in their last year of Pacific Coast Conference membership (the conference would dissolve after 1958, and the heavyweights of the conference — USC, UCLA, Stanford, etc. — would form what would eventually become the Pac-12, leaving Idaho behind). The Tigers would limp through a couple of bad losses after that before finally catching fire in October and finishing 5-4-1.
Five years later, Idaho returned to face a Tiger team in transition.
Mizzou had gone 25-4-3 from 1960-62, playing ridiculous defense (they allowed 5.7 points per game in 1961 and 5.6 in 1962) and eking by with just enough offense.
In 1963, the defense was still excellent, at least after a 23-12 season opening loss to No. 6 Northwestern. They would not allow more than 13 points in a game the rest of the way. The problem: 13 points was sometimes too much for the offense to match. They would lost 13-12 to a fantastic Nebraska and 13-3 to Oklahoma on their way to a 7-3 finish.
Devine was laying the groundwork for a potent attack, but it would take a while. He basically handed the offense over to sophomores in 1963, and while that would bear fruit two years later -- Mizzou would beat Steve Spurrier and Florida in the Gator Bowl in 1965 and finish sixth in the country -- there were growing pains.
The week before Idaho came to town, Mizzou had pulled off a massive win, taking down former Tiger head coach Frank Broyles' Arkansas Razorbacks in Little Rock, 7-6. The Hogs had finished in the top 10 for four straight years and were eighth at the time.
Idaho's visit wasn't nearly as dramatic, but it did give the sophomores a chance to show everybody what they might be able to do one day.
COLUMBIA, Mo., Oct. 5 — In the football coloring book, you usually color sophomores green. But color Missouri's red-red hot offensively.
The sixteenth-ranked Tigers, using an all-rookie backfield much of the time, may not have waltzed by 21-pound underdog Idaho, but they did come up with a sprightly sophomore symphony as they danced to a 24-0 victory here this afternoon.
Led by quarterback Gary Lane, a well-seasoned rookie in athletic eligibility but a junior scholastically, the Tigers marched for touchdowns early and late in the first half and added a field goal and a third six-pointer in the third quarter.
Mizzou, with its usual cross-grained defense thrown up by its more experienced hands and a sprinkling of sophomore linemen, never was in serious trouble. However, the Tigers did need a closing goal-line stand against Idaho's meaty football forces to preserve a shutout in their final non-conference game of 1963. [...]
The chief musicians in Lane's sophomore libretto were skittish Monroe Phelps, a bespectacled swifty from Louisville, and Carl Reese, not Bull of previous Mizzou fame, but a bull offensively against the physically-punishing Vandals.
Reese, who went into the game as the Tigers' leading rusher with 94 yards in 11 carries for an 8.5 average, picked up 51 yards in 15 smashes.
Phelps, back at Missouri this fall after sitting out last year, made Idaho wish that he had stayed away with 50 yards in 10 tries.
Lane added 22 yards rushing and 24 passing on two completions in seven attempts as the Tigers battered Idaho for 212 yards on the ground and 47 through the air.
This one was pretty easy. Mizzou outgained the Vandals, 259-104, and only three lost fumbles kept this one as close as it was (and 24-0 in 1963 was like about 38-0 today).
Gary Lane would never become a show-stopping quarterback; he never topped 800 passing yards, and he never threw more than seven touchdowns in a season. But he would cut down on his mistakes by his senior season -- he threw 23 interceptions in 1963-64 and only three in 1965 -- and by 1965, Lane, Carl Reese, and Monroe Phelps would be joined in the backfield by speedster Charlie Brown (937 rushing yards in '65). That gave Mizzou one too many weapons to account for.
That Devine’s “in-transition” teams were still quite good says something. Mizzou only went 13-6-1 in 1963-64 before turning on the jets again and finishing sixth in 1965, ninth in 1968, and sixth again in 1969. If Mizzou’s 2016 iteration takes a similar form — a team that is growing up and building for an awesome run in coming seasons — I don’t think anyone would complain. Let’s try the “beating Arkansas in Arkansas” thing, too.