2015: Missouri 20, BYU 16
This game, the last win of Gary Pinkel’s career, almost didn’t happen. Earlier in the week, the entire football team had made the decision to boycott the game in solidarity with the Black students at Missouri. Protests were occurring on campus, and the players were threatening not to play if the UM system president didn’t step down. The school faced a $1 million penalty if this game was forfeited. At the same time, as these campus protests were happening, the winningest coach in school history (fresh off of two SEC east titles, mind you) announced he was retiring at the end of the season because he had cancer.
None of the above even mentions the struggles that the Tigers were enduring ON the field. The Tigers’ original QB, Maty Mauk, had been suspended indefinitely, so that meant they had a true freshman QB as their starter at this point, and an offense that was so anemic that they would end up finishing 127th out of 128 schools in total offense that year. The Tigers also were wasting a truly generational defense. That may sound a bit hyperbolic, but remember now, this team was ranked 5th in the entire country in total defense.
So, in came a pretty good BYU football team with the Tigers all over the place emotionally. It just didn’t look great.
I don’t know if it was playing in Arrowhead Stadium or what, but the Tigers played inspired football. Led by true freshman, Drew Lock, the Tigers’ offense found a gear that allowed them to move the ball just enough to eek out a win. Lock threw a touchdown and led the Tigers on a final drive that gave everyone a glimpse of the guy that Lock would grow into being.
This game felt bittersweet. The win was awesome, but you couldn’t help but wonder the direction of where the program was headed. Change was obviously on the way, but what would a Mizzou program without Pinkel look like? What was going to happen to Mauk/Lock? Were the Tigers ever going to convert third downs on a consistent basis again?
But after the week everyone all had just had, the win just plain felt good.
Come watch highlights here.