Missouri Tigers tangle with Texas Longhorns - KAIT Jonesboro, AR - Region 8 News, weather, sports

Missouri Tigers tangle with Texas Longhorns

#3 Texas Longhorns (6-0, 3-0) at Missouri Tigers (4-2, 0-2)

Oct. 24, 2009 - Faurot Field/Memorial Stadium - Columbia, Mo.

KICKOFF: 7:00 p.m. (central time).

STADIUM: Memorial Stadium/Faurot Field (71,004 - FieldTurf surface).  Opened in 1926.  MU is 249-165-20 there alltime and has won 22 of its last 25 overall and is 32-8 there since 2003 (2-1 in 2009).

RADIO: Tiger Network.  Mike Kelly (play-by-play), John Kadlec (color), Chris Gervino (sidelines), Snowball (engineer).  Carried on over 50 stations across the Midwest, and on the Internet at mutigers.com.  The MU broadcast will also be on Sirius Satellite Radio (channel 155).

TV: ABC.  Brent Musberger (play-by-play), Kirk Herbstreit (color), Bill Bonnell (producer), Derek Mobley (director).

RANKINGS (AP/USA): MU - RV [36th] / RV [36th];  UT - 3rd / 3rd.

SERIES: UT leads, 16-5, and has won 6-of-7 meetings since the Big 12 formed in 1996.  Mizzou's lone win in Big 12 play was a 37-29 Homecoming win in 1997.

COACHES:

Mizzou: Gary Pinkel (Kent, ‘75), 63-43 at MU (9th year) and 136-80-3 overall (19th year).  Pinkel is 0-4 vs. Texas and Mack Brown.

Texas: Mack Brown (Florida State, ‘74), 207-100-1 overall (26th year) and 121-26 at UT (12th year).  Brown is 5-0 vs. Mizzou and 4-0 vs. Gary Pinkel.

TALE OF THE TAPE

[NCAA Ranking in Brackets]

MIZZOU  TEXAS

405.00 [40th] Total Offense 444.50 [13th]

121.83 [91st] Rushing Offense 169.50 [41st]

6 TDs Rushing 14

283.17 [14th] Passing Offense 275.00 [20th]

134.15 [51st] Passing Efficiency 137.04 [41st]

13 TDs Passing 11

29.33 [45th] Scoring Offense 42.00 [1st]

336.83 [45th] Total Defense 246.00 [6th]

127.33 [52nd] Rushing Defense 35.83 [1st]

7 TDs Allowed Rushing 1

209.50 [48th] Passing Defense 210.17 [50th]

114.82 [35th] Pass Efficiency Defense 98.33 [15th]

7 TDs Allowed Passing 7

20.33 [35th] Scoring Defense 14.67 [15th]

-0.33 [T-77th] Turnover Margin +0.83 [18th]

12 / 5 Fumbles/Lost 9 / 7

5 Interceptions Thrown 7

2 Interceptions Gained 10

20.68 [T-81st] Kickoff Return Avg. 32.11 [2nd]

12.69 [26th] Punt Return Avg. 15.32 [15th]

41.72 [3rd] Net Punting Avg. 35.15 [74th]

1.50 [83rd] Sacks By 2.83 [T-19th]

1.33 [T-34th] Sacks Allowed 1.50 [T-43rd]

27:41 [109th] Avg. Time of Poss. 31:48 [21st]

37.4 [79th] 3rd Down Conv. 43.6% [34th]

54.6% [T-52nd] 4th Down Conv. 66.7% [T-14th]

tigers host longhorns for 2009 homecoming contest

The Missouri Tigers (4-2 overall, 0-2 in Big 12 Conerence play) look to get back in the winner's circle this Saturday, but it will certainly be a tough task ahead, as they play host to the 3rd-ranked Texas Longhorns (6-0, 3-0).  The game, which will be shown on ABC Sports, will kickoff at 7:00 p.m. (central time).

Mizzou declares itself as the birthplace of Homecoming, and Saturday will represent

The Tigers are looking to bounce back from a pair of tough defeats which have gotten the two-time defending Big 12 North Division champs into an 0-2 hole in league play.  This past Saturday was a frustrating affair in Stillwater, Okla., where the Tigers were going toe-to-toe with the 16th-ranked Cowboys for a half, only to see their high-powered offense get shut out in the 2nd half of play, on the way to a 33-17 defeat.  Prior to that, Mizzou was controlling its league opener against Nebraska, leading 12-0 after three quarters of play, only to see the Huskers score 27 unanswered points in the final period to escape Faurot Field with a 27-12 win on Oct. 8th.

Texas comes into Saturday's game on a roll, as they've outscored opponents by a combined 252-to-88 margin on the way to a 6-0 record thus far. Texas has won 19 of its last 20 games, dating back to the 2007 season, including a mark of 12-1 in 2008.

The Longhorns are coming off an exciting 16-13 hardfought win last Saturday in the annual Red River Rivalry game against Oklahoma.  They are led by 2009 Heisman runner-up QB Colt McCoy and star receiver/return man Jordan Shipley.  Texas also boasts the nation's top kickoff return man in D.J. Monroe (42.67 avg.) and the nation's top pass thief in safety Earl Thomas, who leads the country with his 5 INTs in 6 games so far.

Texas ranks 1st in the nation in scoring offense (42.00 ppg) and rushing defense (35.83 ypg against), is 2nd in kickoff returns (32.11 avg.) and 6th in total defense (246.00 ypg against), while it also ranks among the NCAA's top 20 in eight other major statistical categories.

sellout crowd expected for saturday night

Another huge crowd is anticipated for Saturday's Homecoming affair against Texas, as all 71,004 tickets were sold in advance for the first time this season.  Mizzou has averaged 64,281 for attendance in its previous 3 home contests in 2009, including a season-best of 65,826 in a downpour of Biblical proportions on Oct. 8th against Nebraska.

Mizzou sold out its last three home games in 2008, as it hosted capacity crowds of 68,349 for games against Oklahoma State, Colorado and Kansas State a year ago.  This Saturday's sellout will mark the 8th capacity crowd to visit Memorial Stadium/Faurot Field since 1995, when the stadium's seating capacity was reconfigured.

Before 1995, the stadium could hold over 70,000 fans, with the record alltime crowd being 75,298 to see Mizzou and Penn State play in 1980.  In 1995, renovations dropped the seating to 68,174, and that bumped up to 68,349 in 2000 with the addition of the Press Tower.  The current official capacity of 71,004 came about this summer, after the student seating section was reconfigured to meet increased student demand.

Here's a quick look at the modern-day sellouts at Faurot Field/Memorial Stadium...

Date   Opponent (Rank)  Result  Crowd

11/8/2008 Kansas State W, 41-24 68,349

10/25/2008 Colorado  W, 58-0 68,349

10/4/2008  Oklahoma St. (17)  L, 23-28  68,349

10/6/2007  Nebraska (25)  W, 41-6  70,049

10/11/2003  Nebraska (10)  W, 41-24  68,349

9/25/1999  Nebraska (6)  L, 10-40  68,174

11/21/1998  Kansas State (2)  L, 25-31  68,174

more attendance facts and figures

If all ticket holders for Saturday's game come out to see Mizzou and Texas clash, it will mark only the 10th time in MU's history that a crowd of 71,000+ has come to Memorial Stadium.  The last time a crowd of that size saw a game in Columbia wa back in 1983, when 72,348 saw the Tigers take on Nebraska.

Again, capacity for Memorial Stadium prior to the reconfigurations performed in 1995 was over 75,000 on a standing room-only basis.  The alltime Memorial Stadium record crowd was 75,298 who saw MU host Penn State in 1980.

Since the capacity was dropped in 1995, the largest crowd to see a Tiger home game was in 2007, when 70,049 saw MU down Nebraska, 41-6.  That stands as the "modern-day" Memorial Stadium record crowd, one that Mizzou officials will be gunning for this Saturday.

Here's a quick look at the top-10 Memorial Stadium crowds of alltime...

Date  Opponent (Rank)  Crowd Date  Opponent (Rank)  Crowd

1. Oct. 4, 1980 Penn State (17) 75,298 6. Oct. 18, 1980 Colorado 72,333

2. Sept. 29, 1979 Texas (4) 75,136 7. Oct. 24, 1981 Nebraska (15) 72,001

3. Nov. 3, 1979 Nebraska (2) 74,575 8. Nov. 17, 1979 Oklahoma (7) 71,291

4. Sept. 16, 1978 Alabama (1) 73,655 9. Oct. 28, 1978 Colorado 71,096

5. Oct. 15, 1983 Nebraska (1) 72,348 10. Sept. 26, 1984 Notre Dame (19) 70,915

homecoming returns to its birthplace at mizzou

Legend says that the Homecoming tradition got its start at the University of Missouri in 1911, thanks to the vision and efforts of Chester L. Brewer, MU's Director of Athletics at the time. Although Illinois staged a similar celebration in 1910, Missouri claims its 1911 effort as the first formal Homecoming celebration surrounding a football game.

That year, the Missouri-Kansas game was to be played on a college campus for the first time ever. Previously, the game had been played in either Kansas City or St. Joseph, and Missouri trailed in the series by a 12-5-3 count at the time.

Brewer wanted to add some spice to the season-ending game in Columbia, so he issued a plea to Mizzou alumni and especially to former Tiger football players to "Come Home" for the game. They did just that, with a record crowd of 9,000 overflowing old Rollins Field.

With four minutes to play, and MU trailing by three, Tiger captain Glen Shuck booted a tying field goal from a difficult angle. Then, little Billy Blees caught a rampaging KU fullback in the open field in the final seconds to preserve the tie, and was carried off the field a hero.

Hence, "Homecoming" was born. MU has a 56-36-5 record in Homecoming games over the years. Not surprisingly, Kansas has been its most common opponent for the game - with MU holding an 18-7-2 edge in 27 such meetings - although the two did not meet on Homecoming from 1960 until 2000 in Columbia.

Saturday's opponent, Texas, has served as MU's Homecoming opponent just 2 times previously, and Mizzou has had good luck going against the Longhorns for Homecoming, winning both games - although only one of them was played before World War I. 

Mizzou's pair of Homecoming wins over Texas included a 37-29 win in 1997, which was preceded by a 3-0 barnburner victory way back in 1916, in what was only the 6th Homecoming game in MU's history at the time.

former tiger basketball stars sundvold, stipanovich to serve as grand marshals for 2009 homecoming

Former Mizzou All-American basketball players Steve Stipanovich, BSEd '89, and Jon Sundvold, BSBA '83, will serve as the 2009 Mizzou Homecoming Grand Marshals.

Stipanovich and Sundvold arrived on campus in the fall of 1979 and played basketball under legendary head coach Norm Stewart. During their time at Mizzou, they led the Tigers to four consecutive Big Eight Championships and a trip to the NCAA Tournament each year. Stipanovich and Sundvold were consensus All-American selections as seniors and both have been inducted into the Missouri Intercollegiate Athletics Hall of Fame.

Stipanovich left Mizzou as the school's leading career scorer and top rebounder. He was a first-team Academic All-American and the second overall selection in the 1983 NBA draft by the Indiana Pacers. He retired in 1989 after six years in the NBA and currently resides in St. Louis with his wife, Theresa, and six children.

Sundvold was a first-round draft choice of the Seattle Supersonics where he played two seasons. During his nine-year NBA career, he also played for the San Antonio Spurs and Miami Heat. Sundvold lives in Columbia with his wife, Tamara, and three children. He is president of Sundvold Capital Management.

For a full schedule of 2009 Mizzou Homecoming events, please visit www.mizzou.com.

MIZZOU-texas SERIES HISTORY

Missouri and Texas will meet for the 22nd time when they face off Saturday night in Columbia, Mo.  The Longhorns hold a 16-5 lead in the alltime series, including wins in 6-of-7 meetings since the inception of the Big 12 Conference in 1996.  Mizzou played its first-ever Big 12 Conference game against Texas, as in 1996, the Tigers opened their season with a 40-10 loss at 8th-ranked Texas in the first game of the inaugural season of Big 12 play.

The Longhorns have won 13-of-14 meetings between UT and Mizzou dating back to 1931. Mizzou's last win against Texas was in 1997, when the Tigers claimed a Homecoming win over the Longhorns in a 37-29 victory which marked MU's first win over Texas since 1916.

Mizzou did win four of the first six meetings between the two state universities, from 1894 through 1916, but then the Longhorns went on to eight straight wins in the series until MU's sole win in Big 12 play between the two - a 37-29 win in Columbia in 1997.

Tiger Head Coach Gary Pinkel is 0-4 versus Texas and their coach, Mack Brown, while Brown is 5-0 alltime against Missouri, with one win coming over the Tigers' late former coach Larry Smith.

SERIES HISTORY

TEXAS (UT Leads, 16-5)

Last 20 Games

1896 W, 10-0 at Austin

1900 L, 18-12 at Austin

1901 L, 10-0 at Columbia

1907 W, 5-4 at Columbia

1916 W, 3-0 at Columbia

1931 L, 31-0 at Austin

1932 L, 65-0 at Columbia

1946 L, 40-27 at Dallas#

1979 L, 21-0 at Columbia

1982 L, 21-0 at Austin

1985 L, 21-17 at Austin

1986 L, 27-25 at Columbia

First Year of Big 12 Conference

1996 L, 40-10 at Austin

1997 W, 37-29 at Columbia

2000 L, 46-12 at Austin

2001 L, 35-16 at Columbia

2004 L, 28-20 at Austin

2005 L, 51-20 at Columbia

2008 L, 56-31 at Austin

#-1946 Cotton Bowl (1945 Season)

at Columbia: UT leads, 6-3

at Memorial Stad.: UT leads, 5-1

as part of Big 12 Conf.: UT leads, 6-1

recap of mu's last win over texas

Oct. 18, 1997 - COLUMBIA, Mo. - Future Heisman Trophy winner Ricky Williams ran for 235 yards and 2 touchdowns, but it wasn't enough to overcome 518 yards of offense by Missouri, as the Tigers rebounded from an embarassing 41-11 loss at Kansas State the week before by handing Texas a 37-29 loss on Homecoming in Columbia.

Texas entered the season being mentioned by some as a contender for the national title, but they ran into a buzzsaw in a Mizzou team determined to make amends for the previous week.  They did just that, as Mizzou rushed for 252 yards, while QB Corby Jones completed 12-of-21 passes for 220 yards and ran for a score to ice the game late.  The Tiger ground attack was led by Ernest Blackwell, who gained 85 yards on just 4 carries, one of which was a breathtaking 67-yard touchdown run in the 4th quarter to make it 23-16 Mizzou.

On the Tigers' next possession, RB Devin West took a handoff and headed around right end.  The Longhorns bought the run, only to see West pull back to pass and hit a wide open Kent Layman for a 46-yard gain.  It set up West for a 1-yard scoring run that would give MU a 30-16 lead.  Texas answered to make it a one-score game, but Jones put the game away with his own 13-yard run to ice it.  Brock Olivo carried 16 times for 81 yards and scored a pair of 1st-half TDs (from 19 and 1 yard out) as the Tigers forged a 17-16 lead at the break.

Mizzou fumbled four times on the day, losing three of them, but the Tiger defense held Texas QB James Brown in check, as Brown completed only 15-of-40 passes for 149 yards.  The Longhorns managed to convert only 3-of-15 3rd-down tries on the day as the Tigers controlled the clock to a time of possession edge of 34:02-to-25:58.  Layman was MU's leading receiver, with 4 catches for 103 yards.

Williams rushed 23 times in a losing effort for 235 yards, which included TDs of 80 and 2 yards.

The win improved Mizzou to 4-3 on the year, while Texas fell to 3-3.

last year rewind: #1 texas 56, #11 mizzou 31

AUSTIN, Texas (AP) - Top-ranked Texas showed that its selection as #1 in both polls was no fluke, as it jumped out to a 35-0 1st-half lead over 11th-ranked Missouri, and cruised to a 56-31 win in Austin. The Longhorns scored TDs on each of their five first-half possessions, driving 94, 82, 43, 41 and 92 yards to open up an insurmountable 35-0 lead before the Tigers could muster a 33-yard Jeff Wolfert at the halftime gun to get on the board.

Texas ended the night with 591 yards in total offense, while the Tigers were held to a season-low 348 yards. UT's Colt McCoy was unstoppable, as he connected on 29-of-32 passes for 337 yards and 2 TDs, while adding 2 rushing TDs to boot. Fellow Texas native and longtime friend Chase Daniel was no slouch either, as he ended the game 31-of-41 passing for 318 yards and 2 TDs, with 1 INT, but it was McCoy who stole the show with his near flawless play.

When McCoy and his teammates weren't executing to perfection, they took advantage of breaks to make the Tigers pay, including one sequence where McCoy was hit deep in the backfield by Tiger DE Tommy Chavis and fumbled the ball. What looked like it might be a big play for the Tiger defense turned into Longhorn good fortune as the ball bounced perfectly into McCoy's hands, and he took one step and threw downfield for a 23-yard gain to keep alive another TD drive in the first half. Earlier in the game, Mizzou caused a fumble on Texas' opening possession, only to see that ball roll directly to a Longhorn player to keep the drive alive.

Mizzou went 3-and-out in each of its first two possessions and saw Texas claim a quick 14-0 lead after a pair of long scoring drives. The Tigers appeared to have some momentum going as they converted on a 3rd-down pass from Daniel to WR Jeremy Maclin to get to near midfield. However, officials called offensive pass interference against the Tigers to wipe out the first down and make it 3rd-and-20 on MU's 20-yardline. The Tigers couldn't convert, and Texas got the ball on a short field and promptly drove for a 21-0 lead.

Later in the half, Mizzou sustained its first drive of the game and appeared to make it 28-7 with under 4 minutes in the half, as Daniel connected with WR Danario Alexander on a 4th-down TD pass in the left corner of the endzone. However, replay officials reviewed the play and felt that there was conclusive video evidence that Alexander came down out of bounds, so they took the 7 points away from MU. Instead of a 28-7 game, Texas got the ball back and drove 92 yards the other way to make it 35-0.

The Tigers played even with the top-ranked Longhorns in the 2nd half, outscoring them 28-21 as Daniel threw TD passes of 13 yards to TE Chase Coffman and 18 yards to WR Jared Perry, while TB Derrick Washington ran for a 2-yard score (the first rushing TD of the year against Texas' defense), while Daniel kept for a 1-yard TD run of his own. But it was too little, too late as the Tigers dropped their second-straight game after starting the season 5-0 and climbing to as high as No. 2 in the USA Today and No. 3 in the Associated Press polls.

Coffman was MU's star of the night, as he caught a career-high 12 passes for 140 yards and the 1 TD, which he snagged out of the air, virtually taking the ball out of thin air away from a UT defender who seemed to have a better chance at claiming the ball. Coffman stabbed the ball inside the 5-yardline and turned into the endzone for the score, his 4th of the season and his 24th of his career (extending his MU career record).

Maclin had 197 all-purpose yards on the night, including 66 receiving yards (on 8 receptions), and he gave MU good field position several times with his kickoff returns. He took the game's opening kick back 39 yards to the MU 42-yardline to set the Tigers up in business. But in a sign of what was to come on the night, Maclin was stuffed for a 7-yard loss on 1st down on an attempted reverse, which put the Tigers behind the chains from the start and led to a 3-and-out series to set the tone.

second-half dry spell, turnovers send tigers to defeat at osu

Mizzou went to Stillwater, Okla. last Saturday with the intention of ruining 16th-ranked Oklahoma State's Homecoming, but in the end, turnovers and a rough 2nd half by the Tiger offense led to a 33-17 defeat to the Cowboys.

Things looked promising early on, as the Tigers showed a nice mix of run and pass offensively, and drove the length of the field to open the game, before settling for a 21-yard Grant Ressel field goal and a quick 3-0 lead.  After the Cowboys responded to take a 7-3 lead, the Tigers drove 97 yards to take a 10-7 lead, thanks to a 1-yard TD plunge by TB Derrick Washington early in the 2nd quarter.

After falling behind 14-10 on a pick-six by Oklahoma State when a ball pass from QB Blaine Gabbert went through the hands of WR Jerrell Jackson, the Tigers surged back to take a 17-14 lead with 6:23 left in the half when WR Danario Alexander willed his way to a 48-yard TD catch-and-run, as he broke several would-be tackles and a facemask infraction against him to get into the endzone.

The Cowboys got a long kickoff return to near midfield and drove for a tying field goal with 3:24 left, and it appeared MU was about to strike again, but a potential 50-yard gain to the Cowboy 25-yardline went incomplete as WR Wes Kemp couldn't haul in a beautifully-thrown pass from Gabbert on 3rd down with about two minutes left.  Instead of MU potentially going into the half ahead by a 20-17 or 24-17 count, the Cowboys got the ball back and drove for a demoralizing TD pass with just :02 seconds left on the clock to take a 24-17 lead into halftime.

Mizzou gained 313 yards of total offense in the first half, as Gabbert threw for 259 yards.  Alexander had 161 of those yards in receptions, and the Tiger run game was showing signs of life after struggling the past couple of games.  But the second half couldn't bring more of the same output, as OSU controlled the clock and held a massive advantage in field position in the 3rd quarter to shorten the game severely.

Mizzou's defense played valiantly, but faced a short field for most of the 2nd half.  In the 3rd quarter alone, OSU's average starting point on 4 possessions was its own 46-yardline, while MU had each of its 3 possessions in the period start precisely on its 14-yardline.  The Cowboys held the ball for a massive 10:18 of the quarter, but thanks to a strong effort by the MU defense, OSU could only muster a field goal in the 3rd quarter to take a 27-17 lead into the final period.

The Tigers were flagged for only 3 penalties all night, but one was very costly, as it negated a kickoff return by Jasper Simmons that followed OSU's 3rd-quarter field goal that would have set Mizzou up inside the OSU 20-yardline.  Instead, a hold was called on the return and the Tigers started at their own 14 again.

In the 4th quarter, the Tiger defense held OSU to a pair of field goals, while the Tigers had the ball inside the Cowboy 25-yardline twice, only to be turned away on downs both times.

oklahoma state follow-up notes

  • - The Tigers outgained OSU by a 393-to-351 margin in total offense, but Mizzou faced a 4-0 deficit in the turnover category at Oklahoma State, and those miscues led directly to 10 Cowboy points - a killer indeed in a 16-point game...
  • - Mizzou's defense played much better than the final 33 points on the scoreboard would indicate. As mentioned above, 10 of the points came off of Tiger turnovers, and despite facing a short field most of the second half, Mizzou's defense held the potent Cowboy offense out of the endzone in the 2nd half. Oklahoma State had just 351 yards of total offense and 124 yards rushing, well below their averages of 425.40 and 196.00 coming in...
  • - This was a game where field position played a crucial role in the outcome. Oklahoma State had to put together only one drive of 55 yards or more for a score, while the shortest of MU's 3 scoring drives had to cover 72 yards. Mizzou's 3 scoring drives were 78 (FG), 97 (TD) and 72 (TD) yards, while OSU had scoring drives of 24 (FG), 54 (TD), 40 (FG), 24 (FG) and 2 (FG) yards in addition to its interception return for a score, after the Cowboys opened the game with a 79-yard TD drive...
  • - Mizzou had a rough go of it on key downs, as it converted only 3-of-15 3rd-down attempts, while making only 2-of-5 tries on 4th down. Two of the unsuccessful 4th-down tries came on the Cowboy 10-yardline and 21-yardline in the 4th quarter as the Tigers were trying to cut into the 16-point deficit. The Tigers were 3-of-8 on 3rd-down tries in their big 1st half, but went 0-of-7 on 3rd down tries in the 2nd half of play...

tigers are extremely young

We don't have a way to scientifically prove this, but odds are that Missouri is one of the youngest teams in the country in 2009.  While youth can sometimes step up and provide nice surprises, it can also prove to be challenging.

While Head Coach Gary Pinkel would never offer up youth as an excuse for anything, the fact remains that this team is very young, with only 15 seniors on the roster.  Of those, only six are projected to start on offense/defense Saturday against Texas, with only eight total who are on the two-deep entering the game.  That's a stark contrast to 2008, when the Tigers began the season with 12 senior starters (5 on offense and 7 on defense).

Here's a breakdown of MU's projected starters and the offense/defense two-deep for the UT game.  You'll notice that of MU's 53 players listed on the 2-deep, more than half (36) are either freshmen or sophomores...

       PROJECTED STARTERS BY CLASS  2-DEEP BY CLASS

Seniors 6 [3 off./3 def.] 8 [3 off./5 def.]

Juniors 7 [2 off./5 def.] 9 [ 2 off./7 def.]

Sophomores 8 [6 off./2 def.] 21 [15 off./6 def.]

Freshmen 1 [0 off./1 def.] 15 [7 off./8 def.]

alexander the great continues breakout season

One of the great stories happening in Big 12 football right now is the outstanding play of senior WR Danario Alexander, who has overcome four surgeries during his time as a Tiger, only to emerge this season as one of the most productive receivers in the nation.

The Marlin, Texas native enters Saturday's game against Texas' vaunted defense with a team-best 44 receptions for 627 yards and 5 TDs.  He's already surpassed his previous season highs, which came back in 2007 when he had 417 yards on 37 catches in 10 games.

Three times this year, he's already established a new career best for receiving yardage.  The latest effort was last Saturday at Oklahoma State, where he caught 9 passes for 180 yards and 1 TD.  The TD was a beautiful catch-and-run where he broke a couple of tackles and fought off a facemask penalty to will his way into the endzone from 48 yards out.  He also had a 50-yard catch against the Cowboys, to go with another one for 34 yards.

Alexander enters the Texas game ranked 2nd in the Big 12 and 9th in the NCAA in receiving yards per game (104.50 avg.), and he's also 4th in the Big 12 and 12th nationally in receptions per game (7.33 avg.). 

On Sept. 25th at Nevada, Alexander won the Big 12 co-Offensive Player of the Week for his 9-catch, 170-yard, 2-TD game in MU's 31-21 win in Reno.  Alexander's scores came from 31 and 74 yards out, and he also had a huge 3rd-down conversion grab on 3rd-and-8 from the MU 5-yardline in the 4th quarter that helped spur what ended up a 97-yard TD drive that essentially iced the game for Mizzou.

Alexander became the first Tiger receiver to win conference offensive POW honors since Victor Bailey won the award in 1992 for his performance against Nebraska - back in the days of the old Big Eight Conference.

Prior to Nevada, he caught 3 passes for 46 yards and he became the first Tiger to throw for a TD and catch a TD pass in the same game since the 2006 Brut Sun Bowl.  On the TD pass, Alexander combined with fellow WR Jared Perry as Alexander took a lateral toss from QB Blaine Gabbert, and after selling a bubble screen, he pulled up and lofted a pass downfield to a wide-open Perry for a 40-yard TD that was MU's first score of the game.  Later in the 2nd quarter, Alexander caught a pair of TD passes (13 yards and 17 yards), with the latter coming with just :11 seconds remaining in the half. 

He had a 7-catch, 56-yard outing against Bowling Green, and his 22-yard catch-and-run late in the 4th-quarter that went down to the 1-yardline set up the game-winning TD that Derrick Washington scored with 5:38 to play.

Alexander opened his final season at MU in style, as he turned in career highs of 10 receptions for 132 yards against Illinois.  Time and again he was QB Blaine Gabbert's go-to guy, as 6 of his 10 catches came on 3rd or 4th down, with 4 of them extending the chains.  A fifth, which didn't gain a first down, was just as crucial as any of them, as he had a 16-yard catch on the sideline on a 3rd-and-27 from the Illinois 30-yardline on MU's opening drive of the game.  That catch was essentially worth three points, as it put the Tigers within field goal range, and after Grant Ressel made the ensuing 32-yard field goal, the Tigers were off and running with a 3-0 lead.

Alexander's performance vs. Illinois put him over the 1,000-yard mark in receiving yards for his career.  He enters Saturday's game against Texas with 122 career catches for 1,624 yards and 13 TDs.  He currently ranks 10th on the MU career receptions and receiving yardage chart, and his 13 career TDs puts his 6th alltime at MU.

His performances have been good to see for such a great kid who has battled through various injuries over the past two seasons.  It's easy to forget that Alexander beat out Jeremy Maclin for the starting job at one receiver spot prior to 2007 - a pretty good indicator of his talent.  But Alexander broke his wrist in the 2007 season opener, and that kept him out of action for three games.  He returned to catch a TD pass in game 5 against Nebraska, and closed the regular season with an 8-catch, 117-yard, 1-TD performance in 4th-ranked MU's historic 36-28 win over arch rival and 2nd-ranked Kansas that led to MU taking over the #1 ranking the next week in the A.P. and BCS polls.

But Alexander saw his season come to an end the next week in the Big 12 Championship Game against Oklahoma as he tore knee ligaments while being tackled on an end around.  He had surgery to repair the damage, and was making good progress until his ligament graft came undone during the spring of 2008, which forced him to undergo surgery again.  He worked hard to return in 2008, and he did so admirably after missing only the first two games, but he clearly wasn't 100% for the season.  His numbers dropped from 37 catches for 417 yards and 2 TDs in 2007 in 10 games to 26 catches for 329 yards in 12 games in 2008.  He did up his TD total last year to 5, but he had a third surgery on his knee in the off-season to clean things up another time.

Alexander's perserverance to overcome his challenges was recognized in the off-season by his teammates, as they voted him one of four team captains for the 2009 season.

spoon moving up MU tackling chart; named lombardi semifinalist

The undisputed face, voice and leader of the 2009 Tigers is senior LB Sean Weatherspoon.  "Spoon" came to Mizzou as a mostly-unheralded two-star recruit out of Jasper, Texas, and he's looking to leave as an All-American.

He's certainly off to a good start in that regard, and just last week, he was one of 10 standouts named as a semifinalist for the 2009 Lombardi Award.

Through 6 games, Spoon ranks 6th in the Big 12 with his 8.33 tackles per game average (50 total).  He's coming off a 7-tackle outing at Oklahoma State where the Tiger defense performed admirably despite facing a severe disadvantage in field position most of the night.  Spoon and company held OSU's high-powered offense out of the endzone in the second half.

His 7 stops gave him 352 for his career (he's only in his 3rd year as a starter on defense), which rank him 8th in Mizzou history.  He needs 6 more tackles to tie for 7th place (Sean Doyle, with 358 from 1999-2002), and he's 82 tackles away from the MU career record of 434 tackles, set by James Kinney from 2001-04.  With 6 games guaranteed remaining, he'd have to average 13.7 tackles per game to reach that mark.  If the Tigers reach a bowl game this season, that goes down to 11.7 per game for him to become MU's alltime leading tackler.

At Nevada, Weatherspoon had a 9-tackle game where he registered 1 TFL and a 1/2 QB sack as the Tiger defense held the potent Wolf Pack attack in check for most of the night.

Weatherspoon turned in a game-high 14 tackles in Mizzou's comeback win against Bowling Green.  He made four stops in the decisive 4th quarter that saw Mizzou outscore the Falcons, 14-0.  Perhaps his biggest play was on a 3rd-and-9 early in the 4th quarter, when he stopped a pass play for a loss of two yards to force a BGSU punt.  On the ensuing possession, the Tiger offense drove for a game-tying score...

He got his senior campaign off to a promising start as he registered a team-best 9 tackles in MU's 37-9 dismantling of favored Illinois.  Spoon added a QB sack of the Illini's Juice Williams, and threw in 1 QB hurry too.

He's been named a 1st-team pre-season All-American by ESPN.com, and is on the pre-season watch lists for the Walter Camp, Butkus, Nagurski, Lombardi, Bednarik and Lott awards in 2009.

And for good reason, as he led the Big 12 in 2008 with a career-best 155 tackles, which ranked him 5th in all of the NCAA last year.  He closed his junior season in fine fashion as he tallied 17 tackles in helping lead MU to a comeback 30-23 overtime win against Northwestern in the 2008 Alamo Bowl, winning Defensive MVP honors in the process.

After earning playing time as a true freshman mostly in a reserve role and on special teams, Weatherspoon emerged on the scene in 2007 as a sophomore.  He took over the starting spot at the weakside linebacker position a year ago, and from the get-go was a leader on the defense.  He ended the year with a team-best 130 tackles, and was named a 1st-Team All-Big 12 performer by the Associated Press.

perry & alexander one of nation's top 1-2 receiving combos

Senior wide outs Danario Alexander and Jared Perry and have done a nice job of taking over as go-to guys in the Tiger passing game.  Just who would step in for departed All-Americans Jeremy Maclin and Chase Coffman from a year ago was a big question coming into the 2009 season.

Through 6 games, the Texas natives have put together impressive numbers, as Alexander and Perry rank 2nd and 5th, respectively, in the Big 12 in receiving yardage (104.50 for Alexander, 82.17 for Perry).  Additionally, those averages put them at 9th and 27th in the NCAA entering the Texas game Saturday.  That makes them one of four receiving combos to rank among the nation's top-30.  Here's a look at the numbers:

Schools With 2 Receivers Among NCAA's Top-30 in Receiving Yards Per Game

Rank Player  School Avg.

1. Dezmon Briscoe Kansas 134.20

17. Kerry Meier  Kansas 96.67

2. Greg Salas  Hawaii 131.83

21. Rodney Bradley Hawaii 95.83

7. Eric Page  Toledo 109.57

19. Stephen Williams Toledo 95.86

9. Danario Alexander Mizzou 104.50

27. Jared Perry  Mizzou 82.17

Alexander has a team-best 44 receptions, and 627 yards through 6 games, to go with 5 receiving TDs.  He's also thrown a TD, on a gadget play versus Furman.  Alexander also has 13 career receiving TDs to rank 6th-best on the MU chart, as well, while his career numbers of 122 catches and 1,624 yards both rank 10th alltime at MU.

Perry is tied for the team lead in receiving TDs, with 5 thus far, and he's 2nd behind Alexander with 31 catches for 493 yards, and his per-catch average of 15.9 is a nice jump from his mark of 13.8 a year ago.  For his career, Perry has 122 receptions for 1,641 yards, totals which rank 10th and 9th alltime at Mizzou, respectively.  His 12 career receiving TDs also rank 8th-best in MU annals.

mizzou holding its own versus the south

Since Gary Pinkel took over as Tiger head coach in 2001, Mizzou has amassed the best record of any Big 12 North school against its Big 12 South brethren, at 12-13 over the past 8+ seasons (2001-09).  Saturday's game against Texas will be the second of three games against South Division foes this year for Mizzou, with the final one coming later against Baylor (Nov. 7th in Columbia).

Here's a look at the how the Big 12 North schools have fared against the South in the Pinkel era...

Big 12 North Records vs. Big 12 South (2001-09)

(Thru games of Oct. 17th) 2009 South Opponents (Result)

1. Missouri  12-13 at OSU (L), vs. Texas, vs. Baylor

2. Nebraska  10-15 vs. Tech (L), at Baylor, vs. Oklahoma

3. Colorado  10-15 at Texas (L), vs. A&M, at OSU

4. Kansas State 9-17 at Tech (L), vs. A&M (W), at Oklahoma

5. Iowa State  7-18 vs. Baylor (W), at A&M, vs. OSU

6. Kansas  5-19 vs. Oklahoma, at Tech, at Texas

gregory named finalist for lowe's senior class award

Veteran RG Kurtis Gregory is not only one of the top offensive linemen around, he's also an outstanding example of a student-athlete.  Gregory, who was a 2nd-Team All-Big 12 performer a year ago on the gridiron, has also excelled in the classroom, as he earned his undergraduate degree in agriculture in May of 2008 - meaning he's in his 2nd season already of playing as a graduate student.  The Blackburn, Mo. native (population of 270 in July, 2008) grew up on his family's farm and intends to make his living off the land when his playing days are done.

He often takes teammates back to the farm during down time to show them what a day of farm life is like - and most of the time his teammates come back appreciating football practice more and more!

Last week, Gregory was named one of 10 finalists for the 2009 Lowe's Senior CLASS Award, which honors the nation's top student-athletes in the categories of classroom, character, community and competition. 

Nationwide balloting begins immediately to determine the winner. Lowe's, an official Corporate Partner of the NCAA, will announce the Senior CLASS AwardTM winner in early January.

The 2009 finalists are:  Zane Beadles, University of Utah; Richie Brockel, Boise State University; Eric Decker, University of Minnesota; Kurtis Gregory, University of Missouri; Jerry Hughes, TCU; Dan LeFevour, Central Michigan University; Colt McCoy, University of Texas; Zoltan Mesko, University of Michigan; Darrell Stuckey, University of Kansas; and Tim Tebow, University of Florida.

These 10 names will be placed on the Lowe's Senior CLASS Award football ballot for a nationwide vote which concludes December 6.  Fan balloting is available on the award's official Web site, http://www.seniorCLASSaward.com, as well as through text messaging. Fans can text FOOTBALL to 74567 to vote for the finalists. These votes will be combined with votes from coaches and media to determine the recipient of the award.

Additionally, Gregory was recently named one of 54 candidates for the William Campbell Trophy, which is nicknamed the "Academic Heisman", and was formerly known as the Draddy Trophy.  The award is considered the top scholar-athlete award available to college football student-athletes.  Semifinalists must be a senior or graduate student in their final year of eligibility, have a GPA of at least 3.2 on a 4.0 scale, have outstanding football ability as a first team player or significant contributor, and have demonstrated strong leadership and citizenship.

The NFF Awards Committee will select and announce up to 15 finalists on Oct. 29. Each finalist will be recognized as part of the 2009 NFF National Scholar- Athlete Class, receiving an $18,000 post-graduate scholarship. The Campbell Trophy winner, who will have his scholarship increased to $25,000, will be announced live at the NFF's Annual Awards Dinner on December 8 at the prestigious Waldorf-Astoria in New York City. A total distribution of $277,000 in scholarships will be awarded that evening.

The pre-season Outland Trophy candidate is slated to make his 35th consecutive start at right guard this Saturday against Texas.

tigers have 8th-most wins in nation over last three seasons

With a school-record 12 wins in 2007, and 10 more wins in 2008, (the first time Mizzou has had double-digit win totals in consecutive years), plus a 4-2 start to the 2009 season, MU's three-year win total of 26 is tied for the 8th-most in the nation during that time period.  By the way, Saturday's opponent - 3rd-ranked Texas - is tied for the most wins in the nation during that same time period.

Here's a look at the leaders (thru games of Oct. 17th)...

MOST WINS, 2007-09 (Thru Oct. 17th)

Wins School  2007 2008 2009

28  Texas  10 12 6

28  USC  11 12 5

28  Florida    9 13 6

28  Boise State 10 12 6

27  Utah    9 13 5

27  Cincinnati 10 11 6

27  BYU  11 10 6

26  Mizzou  12 10 4

26  Alabama   7 12 7

26  Ohio State 11 10 5

26  Oklahoma 11 12 3

26  Penn State   9 11 6

26  Virginia Tech 11 10 5

25  Boston College, Georgia, LSU, TCU, Texas Tech, Tulsa,

West Virginia, Kansas

pinkel stands 3rd on alltime mu coaching wins list

Mizzou Head Coach Gary Pinkel is in his 9th season at MU and touts a career record of 136-80-3 (62.8%).  The Illinois game to open the 2008 season was the 200th in Pinkel's head coaching career.

Pinkel, who has led MU to a combined record of 41-18 (69.5%) over the past 4+ seasons, and to bowl games in 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007 and 2008, has a 9-year record in Columbia of 63-43 (59.4%).  Dating back to the 2005 Independence Bowl win over Steve Spurrier and South Carolina, Pinkel has won 35 of his last 48 games overall.

MU's win in the 2008 opener against Illinois gave Pinkel his 50th MU win, and he now ranks 3rd on the coaching wins list at MU, with 63.

Pinkel is in a select group of Mizzou coaches that includes College Football Hall of Famers Don Faurot and Dan Devine, as well as Warren Powers, to be the only coaches to have an MU record of above .500 (with at least one full season coached) dating all the way back to 1935.

Here's a quick look at the top winning coaches in MU history...

MIZZOU COACHING WINS LEADERS

Coach Wins # Seasons (Years) Record Pct. # Bowls

Don Faurot 101 19 (1935-42, 46-56) 101-79-10 .558 4

Dan Devine 93 13 (1958-70) 93-37-7 .704 6

Gary Pinkel 63 9 (2001-Present) 63-43 .594 5

Warren Powers 46 7 (1978-84) 46-33-3 .580 5

For the efforts in 2007, Pinkel was a finalist for several national coach of the year awards, including the Robinson, Bryant and Munger awards.  He was also named the National Coach of the Year by FieldTurf in 2007.

Pinkel has led MU to 5 bowl games, and if his Tigers reach a 6th in 2009, he will join Devine as the only other coach to guide MU to 6 bowl games.

Pinkel has directed Mizzou to 5 winning seasons (8-5 in 2003, 7-5 in 2005, 8-5 in 2006, 12-2 in 2007, 10-4 in 2008), with those representing 5 of MU's 7 winning campaigns dating back to the 1983 season.

The Big 12 North Division titles won by Mizzou in 2007 and 2008 represent the first football conference title of any kind Mizzou has won since 1969 - the last time it claimed a share of the old Big Eight Conference crown.

In November of 2008, Pinkel agreed to a new seven-year contract, meaning he'll patrol the Tiger sidelines through the 2015 season.

gabbert shows his mettle with 2nd-half comeback vs. bgsu

After winning Big 12 Offensive Player of the Week in his first career start for his stellar performance in Mizzou's season opener against Illinois, sophomore QB Blaine Gabbert had a tough act to follow.  Things didn't go so smoothly for the St. Louis native against Bowling Green, but perhaps what he did in the 2nd half of the game was even more impressive than his performance against Illinois, because of the pressure involved.

Gabbert keyed a 2nd-half comeback that saw the Tigers erase a 20-6 deficit late in the 3rd quarter, as they scored touchdowns on 3 consecutive possessions to grab a 27-20 win - and that stands as only the 3rd time in MU history that the Tigers have won after trailing by as many as 14 points at any time in the 2nd half of a game.

He had an outstanding performance in notching a win in his first-ever road start, as the Tigers pulled away for 31-21 win at Nevada on Sept. 25th.  Gabbert threw for a career-best 414 yards, on 25-of-40 passing, with 3 TDs to raise his season total to 11 TDs with no interceptions entering the Nebraska game.  He had 5 passes of 30 yards or more against the Wolf Pack, including TD strikes of 31 and 74 yards to WR Danario Alexander - for the season, Gabbert already has 12 passes of 30 yards or more, with 6 of them going for scores.

Gabbert had the first tough outing of his collegiate career against Nebraska and their stout defense, as he was held to a season-low 134 passing yards on 17-of-43 passing in MU's 27-12 defeat on Oct. 8th.  It didn't help that the game was played in a virtual torrential downpour, nor did the fact that he suffered a sprained ankle in the first quarter when he was sacked by Ndamukong Suh.  He also had his streak of consecutive passes without an interception broken at 177, when he was picked off by Suh for the first time in his career, in the 4th quarter.  Despite being less than 100%, Gabbert hung in there and engineered a potential game-tying drive late in the 4th quarter after Nebraska had taken a 20-12 lead, as the drive reached the Husker 22 before stalling out thanks to a costly holding penalty.  He also scored on a 1-yard keeper on the last play of the 1st half to give MU a 9-0 lead at the time.

  • - His first half against BGSU was tough, as he stood 10-of-21 passing for just 44 yards, as the Tigers trailed 13-6 at halftime. Things got worse in the 2nd half before they got better, as Bowling Green took the opening possession of the 3rd quarter and drove for a TD to make it 20-6. The Tigers followed with a 3-and-out possession, but after the Tiger defense stiffened and forced a punt, Gabbert and company dug in and went to work on the next 3 possessions, scoring 3 straight TDs. The drives covered 87, 72 and 61 yards, respectively, and Gabbert was a combined 9-of-10 passing in those three crucial drives for 121 yards and 2 TDs. The first drive started at MU's 13-yardline with just 4:50 left in the 3rd quarter and MU trailing, 20-6. It ended with his 27-yard TD pass to WR Jared Perry, while the 2nd drive ended with his 33-yard TD pass to WR Wes Kemp...

Gabbert had Tiger nation - and much of the nation overall - abuzz with his first collegiate start, as he completed 25-of-33 passes for 319 yards and 3 TDs (49, 4 and 46 yards), and rushed for a 4th score in MU's 37-9 season-opening win over Illinois.  He had 39 rushing yards in all, to give him 358 yards of total offense in his starting debut.

His QB rating of 186.96 was the best of any Big 12 signal caller on the opening week, and it was the 2nd-highest rating ever for a Tiger making his starting debut - trailing only the mark of 207.4 set by Chase Daniel in 2006 against Murray State (23-of-32 for 320 yards and 5 TDs).

Gabbert led the Tigers to a 52-12 win over Furman, thanks to a 17-of-25 passing performance that covered 256 yards and 3 more TDs, plus he added a 40-yard TD run to become the first Tiger since Brad Smith in 2002 (vs. Kansas) to throw and run for a TD of 40 yards or more in a game.

missed opportunities, mistakes prove costly vs. nebraska

Playing in a driving and relentless rain storm on Oct. 8th, Mizzou managed to scrape together a 12-0 lead over the favored Nebraska Cornhuskers through three quarters of play, only to see a stunning turn of events take place in the 4th quarter that saw the Huskers put 27 points on the board, to post the 27-12 comeback win.

Uncharacteristic mistakes and some big missed opportunities proved to be the difference in this ballgame.  As painful as it is to rehash this for Tiger fans, here's a look back at some of the key moments...

  • - Twice Mizzou recovered Nebraska fumbles inside the Husker 35-yardline, only to come away with no points on either occasion. On the first instance, the Tigers recovered their own punt that deflected off a Nebraska blocker, on the Husker 32-yardline in the 1st quarter of a scoreless game. But thanks to a holding penalty and an ensuing QB sack, the drive netted negative 19 yards, and the Tigers had to punt. The second instance was perhaps even more crucial, as the Tigers recovered a fumbled snap on the Husker 29-yardline on the first possession of the 3rd quarter. MU led 9-0 at the time, and if they had been able to punch it in for a TD, who knows how the game would have played out, but it didn't happen that way, as three plays netted four yards, and in the sloppy conditions, Grant Ressel's 43-yard field goal attempt went wide left, marking the first kick he's missed all season...
  • - Conversely, Nebraska jumped on Mizzou turnovers for 13 points in the key sequence that saw them score 20 points in a span of just 3:22, after they went scoreless for the game's first 46:04. After Nebraska hit its first big play of the game (a 56-yard TD pass early in the 4th to cut the Tiger lead to 12-7), Tiger QB Blaine Gabbert was intercepted on the very next snap - marking the first INT of his collegiate career (breaking a string of 177 consecutive passes thrown without an INT). The Huskers turned that into a TD for six points (the PAT pass failed), and the got seven more just 2:25 later, when Gabbert was again intercepted at midfield, with the return going to the Tiger 10-yardline. Three plays later, the Huskers found the endzone again to increase the lead to 20-12...
  • - Mizzou entered the game as the least penalized team in the Big 12 Conference (averaging 5.0 penalties for 45.5 yards per game), but it was flagged 8 times for 100 yards on the night. Included in that total were 4 offensive holding penalties (the Tigers had 10 offensive holding penalties in 14 games during 2008, by comparison). Three of those holds were killers that completely changed the complexion of potential scoring drives. The first was detailed above when MU missed out on a golden scoring opportunity in the 1st quarter after recovering a Husker fumble. Another came late in the 3rd quarter, with MU leading 9-0, and driving inside the Husker 10-yardline. On 2nd-and-4 from the 7-yardline, TB Derrick Washington carried for an apparent 1st down to the 2-yardline. However, a hold was called on the play at the 5-yardline, forcing a 2nd-and-12 from the 15. Two incomplete passes followed, and the Tigers had to settle for a 33-yard Ressel field goal to go up 12-0, instead of a more commanding 16-0 lead that was so close. Lastly, with under six minutes left in the game, and Nebraska up 20-12, the Tigers mounted a solid drive that took the from their own 25-yardline to the Husker 22, where they had a 1st-and-10. During an incomplete 1st-down pass, the Tigers were flagged for holding, which forced a 1st-and-20 situation from the 32-yardline, that the Tigers couldn't overcome, as they had four straight incompletions derail their last chance...
  • - It's hard to imagine a defense playing better than Mizzou's unit did through 3 quarters of play, as it pitched a shutout for the game's first 46:04. The last time Mizzou had shut out Nebraska for the first 3 quarters was way back in 1982 (a 6-0 Nebraska win in Columbia). Through 3 quarters, Nebraska (which entered the game with the nation's 19th-ranked offense) had 50 plays for 109 yards, zero red zone penetrations (it crossed midfield just twice), and was just 4-of-13 on 3rd-downs. Husker QB Zac Lee was just 9-of-27 passing for only 79 yards to that point. But the 4th quarter was all Nebraska, as the Huskers hit that long pass play for a score to break the ice, and then the Tiger defense couldn't keep NU out of the endzone on two short field situations after Nebraska took over on the Tiger 18-yardline and 10-yardline following interceptions. In the 4th quarter, Nebraska managed 27 points and 154 yards of offense on 16 snaps, they were 3-of-3 on redzone chances, and were a perfect 4-of-4 on 3rd-downs.

Mizzou Sports Information

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