As the summer wraps up, I’m getting ready to head out the RMN door. So consider this a valedictory series of sorts. I’ve been in Columbia for just over 20 years and just over 20 football seasons. Time to list some of my favorite things from that time. So far we’ve looked at quarterbacks, Faurot Field crowds, tight ends, road performances, linebackers, running backs, unsung heroes, defensive ends, and plays. Let’s finish up by talking about my favorite autumns.
Once again, we’ll acknowledge some honorable mentions.
- 1998. One hell of a what-could’ve-been year. Mizzou leads every game at halftime, including one in Columbus against the most talented team in the country, but can’t quite close the deal. Still, 8-4 with a romp over Kansas and your first bowl win in 17 years is fun.
- 2002. Not a bowl season, but Brad Smith goes for 2,000 passing yards and 1,000 rushing yards, and Mizzou fans have hope for the first time in four years.
- 2003. The Tigers get the Nebraska monkey off their back, Brad Smith runs for a million yards against Texas Tech, and Mizzou goes to Shreveport.
- 2009. Danario.
- 2011. Another season of what-ifs, with tight losses at Arizona State, Kansas State, and Baylor. Still, Henry Josey runs wild for a while, and Mizzou wins four in a row and stomps UNC in the Indy Bowl.
- 2017. Points and yards are fun. So are six-game winning streaks.
Alright, on to the top five.
In retrospect, Missouri’s 2008 season was doomed to fall short of expectations when the rest of the Big 12 improved. Texas was Texas again. Oklahoma fielded maybe the best offense of the decade. Oklahoma State was good enough to pull an upset in Columbia with just a few happy bounces.
Still, 2008 was only disappointing because of the expectations set in 2007. By almost any other definition, it was a damn blast. It featured the best month of offense we’ll ever see — 569 yards and 53 points per game during a 5-0 start — plus another Big 12 North title and another top-20 finish. Chase Daniel wrapped up his career with 4,300 passing yards, and his final pass was a game-winner to Jeremy Maclin. Good times.
Nothing can beat the happy surprises. Mizzou began 2014 by struggling on offense, losing at home to Indiana, and getting shut out at home by Georgia. The Tigers then proceeded to reset the O, win six games in a row — riding returns to a romp at Florida, pulling away at Tennessee and Texas A&M, coming back to beat Arkansas at home — and take a second straight East title.
They bowled over Minnesota in the fourth quarter to win the Citrus Bowl and finish with 11 wins, and they were led by Markus Golden, Russell Hansbrough, Marcus Murphy, Shane Ray, Lucas Vincent, and a whole bunch of super likable dudes. The first half of this season wasn’t very fun, but the second half was ridiculously rewarding.
Another win over Illinois. Shutouts of Colorado and Iowa State. A dominant win at Texas A&M. Aldon Smith. A romp over Kansas. A third 10-win season in four years.
Oh yeah, and the most perfect Homecoming on record. All without Chase Daniel, Jeremy Maclin, and all the guys whose departures Mizzou wasn’t supposed to be able to overcome. Yeah, this was fun.
I can’t think of this season without smiling. This was Rock M Nation’s first season, and it captured a fan base’s imagination in a way that you can only do once. From Pig Brown’s early-season heroics, to the “salt > wound” win over Nebraska, to the domination at Colorado, to the Jeremy Maclin game at Kansas State, to Armageddon at Arrowhead, to the Cotton Bowl romp, every Mizzou fan over about the age of 18 or so has this season memorized. It was magical.
I honestly can’t think of anything new to say about it because I’ve already written what feels like millions of words.
I can’t think of 2013 without getting a little emotional. Henry Josey’s comeback, Mizzou’s SEC redemption, so many amazing individual stories ... this season was just too much.
It’s been a fun ride, you guys. Even when it wasn’t, it still kind of was.