Mizzou Tigers host Kentucky in homecoming game

From the University of Missouri

Kentucky Wildcats (1-7, 0-5) at Missouri Tigers (3-4, 0-4)

Oct. 27, 2012 – Memorial Stadium/Faurot Field – Columbia, Mo.

KICKOFF: 11:00 a.m. (central time).

STADIUM: Memorial Stadium/Faurot Field (71,004 – FieldTurf surface).  Opened in 1926.  MU is 263-171-20 there alltime and has won 36 of its last 45 overall and is 46-14 there since 2003 (2-3 in 2012).

RADIO: Tiger Network.  Mike Kelly (play-by-play), Howard Richards (color), Chris Gervino (sidelines), Scotty Cox (producer), Matt Winegardner (director).  Carried on over 50 stations across the Midwest, and on the Internet at mutigers.com (subscription only).  It will also air live on Sirius Satellite Radio (Channel 113) and XM Satellite Radio (Channel 200).

TV: ESPNU.  Tom Hart (play-by-play), John Congerni (analyst), John Kettering (Producer).

RANKINGS (AP/USA): None for either team currently.

SERIES: Kentucky leads, 2-0, winning a pair of games in the 1960s, by scores of 7-0 (1965 in Columbia) and 12-6 (1968 in Lexington).


Mizzou: Gary Pinkel (Kent State, '75), 88-58 at MU (12th year) and 161-95-3 overall (22nd year).  Pinkel is 0-0 vs. Kentucky and Joker Phillips.

Kentucky: Joker Phillips (Kentucky, '86), 12-21 at UK and overall (3rd year).  Phillips is 0-0 vs. Mizzou and Gary Pinkel.

It's Homecoming at Ol' Mizzou this weekend, and the Missouri Tiger football team (3-4 overall, 0-4 in SEC action) looks to get back in the winner's circle as they play host to the Kentucky Wildcats (1-7, 0-5) at Memorial Stadium/Faurot Field.  Kickoff for the nationally-televised game (ESPNU) is set for 11 a.m.  A limited number of tickets do remain available for the game.

Mizzou is coming off of a bye week, which followed a very rugged schedule during the first part of the season, with games against top-10 teams Alabama, Georgia and South Carolina.  The Tigers are looking to break a two-game losing streak, having dropped their last two outings at home to Vanderbilt (19-15 on Oct. 6) and at home to #1 Alabama (42-10 on Oct. 13).  A win would even Mizzou's home record at 3-3 on the season, and would give the Tigers their first-ever SEC win as a member of the league.

Kentucky enters Saturday's game also looking to turn the tide on what has been a tough season to date.  The Wildcats have dropped six consecutive games coming into Saturday's contest, but three of the losses in that stretch were very competitive games, including a tight loss at home last weekend to Georgia (L, 29-24).  Kentucky also lost a competitive game at home to Mississippi State (L, 27-14 on Oct. 6) and they dropped an overtime heartbreaker on Sept. 15th to Western Kentucky (L, 32-31).


[NCAA Ranking in Brackets]


323.71 [106th] Total Offense 309.25 [113th]

120.00 [99th] Rushing Offense 119.25 [100th]

7 TDs Rushing 9

203.71 [89th] Passing Offense 190.00 [100th]

111.49 [108th] Passing Efficiency 113.30 [104th]

7 TDs Passing 11

23.14 [90th] Scoring Offense 19.25 [109th]

356.14 [41st] Total Defense 426.63 [83rd]

143.86 [50th] Rushing Defense 170.00 [75th]

14 TDs Allowed Rushing 18

212.29 [43rd] Passing Defense 256.63 [91st]

134.89 [75th] Pass Effic. Defense 157.18 [116th]

9 TDs Allowed Passing 15

25.57 [59th] Scoring Defense 32.38 [93rd]

+0.86 [25th] Turnover Margin –0.63 [94th]

16 / 5 Fumbles/Lost 9 / 2

5 Interceptions Thrown 9

5 Interceptions Gained 2

25.60 [16th] Kickoff Return Avg. 21.83 [56th]

20.53 [4th] Punt Return Avg. 5.64 [89th]

34.23 [105th] Net Punting Avg. 39.95 [20th]

2.43 [T-36th] Sacks By 2.13 [51st]

2.43 [T-90th] Sacks Allowed 2.25 [T-84th]

27:39 [100th] Avg. Time of Poss. 26:26 [115th]

27.1% [119th] 3rd Down Conv. 42.0% [57th]

31.3% [104th] 4th Down Conv. 9.1% [119th]

homecoming returns for its 101st celebration 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 58-37-5 record in Homecoming games over the years. Not surprisingly, rival 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.

Mizzou has won 8 of its last 10 Homecoming games, including a landmark 36-27 win over BCS #1-ranked Oklahoma in 2010 (36-27).  Mizzou's last loss on Homecoming was a 41-7 defeat at the hands of the #3-ranked Texas Longhorns.

In last season's 100th Homecoming contest, the Tigers claimed a 52-17 win over Iowa State (an eventual bowl team), as QB James Franklin accounted for 5 touchdowns (3 passing/2 rushing), while Henry Josey had 129 rushing yards and a touchdown.  The Tigers got out to a 21-3 first-quarter lead and never looked back.

Mizzou's eight Homecoming wins under Head Coach Gary Pinkel have come by an average score of 26.4 points per game.  Those final scores include wins over: Kansas in 2002 (W, 36-12), Texas Tech in 2003 (W, 62-31) and 2007 (W, 41-10), Iowa State in 2005 (W, 27-24 in OT) and 2011 (W, 52-17), Kansas State in 2006 (W, 41-21), Colorado in 2008 (W, 58-0) and Oklahoma in 2010 (W, 36-27).

For a full schedule of 2012 Homecoming events, please visit www.mizzou.com.

"mr. mizzou" john kadlec is homecoming grand marshal

This year's Homecoming Grand Marshal is "Mr. Mizzou" John Kadlec, who has been associated with Mizzou Athletics for the majority of the last 60-plus years.  He came to Mizzou to play football for Hall of Fame Coach Don Faurot in 1947, and after his playing days, he stayed on to serve as a graduate assistant for Faurot, coaching the freshman team until 1954, when he moved up to varsity, where he served through 1959.  After a stint at Kansas State from 1960-66, Kadlec returned to Mizzou to serve on the staffs of Dan Devine and Al Onofrio, coaching from 1966-77 on the Tiger sideline.

After his coaching days ended, Kadlec returned to Kansas State as Director of Development, before returning to Mizzou in 1986 as Director of the Tiger Scholarship Fund, and he's been a fixture in Columbia ever since in numerous roles most closely associated with fundraising.  For 16 seasons (1995-2010), Kadlec also served as the color analyst for football broadcasts on the Tiger Radio Network.

Kadlec was a 1996 inductee into the MU Athletics Hall of Fame, and in 2005, the grass practice fields behind the Mizzou Athletic Training Complex were named in his honor.  He still works to help assist Tiger Athletics, serving as special assistant to the Athletic Director.

mizzou looking to replicate strong stretch run of 2011

Mizzou enters the final stretch of the 2012 season with a 3-4 overall record.  If that sounds familiar, there's a reason, because just a year ago, the Tigers stood 3-4 overall after losing a home game to #6 Oklahoma State (45-24) on Oct. 22nd.  With the season in the balance, the 2011 squad dug in and went on to finish with wins in 4 of their final 5 regular season games to finish the regular season at 7-5, including wins at 16th-ranked Texas A&M (W, 38-31 in OT), home wins over 21st-ranked Texas (W, 17-5) and Texas Tech (W, 31-27) while ending the regular season with a win in Kansas City over Kansas (W, 24-10).  The only loss in that stretch was a 42-39 nailbiter at Baylor.

The Tigers then extended their overall win streak to 4 to close the season, and make it 5 wins in their last 6 games overall, with a commanding 41-24 Independence Bowl win over North Carolina to end the year 8-5 overall.

Three of those final five regular season games a year ago were away from home (at A&M, at Baylor, neutral vs. Kansas), and in 2012 the Tigers will face similar circumstances, with two home games (Kentucky, Syracuse) and three road games (Florida, Tennessee, Texas A&M) coming down the pike.

marcus murphy electrifies 'bama, leads ncaa in return scores

Sophomore TB and return man extraordinaire Marcus Murphy has made quite a name for himself nationally through 7 games in 2012.  He enters Saturday's game against Kentucky with a nation-best 4 special teams returns for touchdowns, including a nation-leading 3 punt returns for scores and 1 kickoff return for a TD.  The only other player in the NCAA with a touchdown in both categories is Bernard Reedy of Toledo, who has 2 kickoff return TDs, to go with 1 punt return score.

Murphy electrified top-ranked Alabama in MU's last outing, when he took a kickoff back 98 yards for a touchdown in the 2nd quarter which pulled the Tigers to within 28-7 with 8:24 left in the half.  It was MU's 1st kickoff return for a score since Gahn McGaffie went 86 yards on the opening kick in 2010 vs. Oklahoma, and it marked the longest kickoff return at Mizzou since 2008, when former All-American Jeremy Maclin went 99 yards for a score against Illinois.

Additionally, it marked the longest kickoff return for a TD by a Tiger in Columbia since 1969, when former great Jon Staggers went 99 yards for a score against Kansas State...

Just last week, several national outlets released their midseason All-America teams, and Murphy was prominently featured on as many as three of them: CNNSI.com, Sporting News and ESPN.com.  Murphy enters Saturday's game ranked 3rd in the NCAA (1st in the SEC) with his punt return average of 18.88.  His kickoff return average of 33.17 would be ranked as 4th nationally (2nd in the SEC), but he doesn't have enough kickoff returns to qualify for the leaders list (he has 6 in 7 games, and the minimum to qualify is an average of 1.2 per game played).

Murphy's 4 combined return TDs is most in the nation, and he's one of only 8 players who enter this weekend with multiple return TDs on the year.  Here's a look:

PLAYER, SCHOOL  Total Ret. TDs Punt Ret. TDs Kickoff Ret. TDs

Marcus Murphy, Mizzou 4  3  1

Bernard Reedy, Toledo 3  1  2

Dri Archer, Kent State  3  0  3

Chase Clayton, New Mexico 2  0  2

Mike Edwards, Hawai'i 2  0  2

Tyler Ervin, San Jose State 2  0  2

Venric Mark, Northwestern 2  2  0

Rashad Greene, Florida State 2  2  0

mizzou-kentucky series history

Mizzou and Kentucky will meet for only the third time on the gridiron when they square off this Saturday in Columbia, Mo. for the Tigers' 2012 Homecoming game.

The Wildcats have won both previous meetings, which both came back in the 1960s, when Hall of Fame Coach Dan Devine patrolled the sidelines for Mizzou.

Kentucky won both games in low-scoring affairs, claiming a 7-0 shutout win in their only previous appearance in Columbia, in 1965.  Three seasons later, Mizzou returned the game in Lexington, Ky., but the Wildcats came away as 12-6 winners there, as well.

In 1965, Mizzou opened its season by hosting Kentucky, but the Tigers came away with a 7-0 loss, thanks in large part to 3 interceptions that the Wildcats snagged on the day.  As the score would indicate, defense was the name of the day, as MU had 236 yards of total offense, while Kentucky had 234.  The only score of the day was a 36-yard TD pass by Kentucky in the 2nd quarter.  Those 3 interceptions thrown by Mizzou were half of the 6 INTs that Mizzou threw all season long, as the Tigers would go on to a final record of 8-2-1, as the team reached the 1966 Sugar Bowl and claimed a 20-18 win over Florida and their star QB Steve Spurrier.

In 1968, the game also served as the season opener for both teams, with the Wildcats claiming a 12-6 victory in Lexington.  Mizzou outgained UK in total offense on the day by a 318-to-254 margin, but the Wildcats broke a 6-6 tie in the 4th quarter on a 28-yard touchdown run with just 4:30 left in the game.


KENTUCKY (UK Leads, 2-0)

1965 L, 7-0 at Columbia

1968 L, 12-6 at Lexington

at Columbia: UK leads, 1-0

at Memorial Stadium: UK leads, 1-0

tigers looking for another bounce back effort

If recent history is any indicator, then the Mizzou Tigers hope history repeats itself this Saturday.  Of late, Mizzou has proven very resilient, and shown a key ability to avoid losing streaks.  The Tigers have won 7 out of the last 9 times (dating back to the 2010 season) following a defeat.

That ability to get quickly back in the winners circle played a huge role in Mizzou's 8-5 season a year ago, as the Tigers rebounded to post wins four times after suffering a defeat.  The only time they fell in 2011 on consecutive weeks was in two straight road games at #1 Oklahoma (38-28) and at #20 Kansas State (24-17).

Here's a look at Mizzou's recent history following a defeat:


2012 – Oct. 6 – L, 19-15 vs. Vanderbilt; Oct. 13 – L, 42-10 vs. #1 Alabama

2012 – Sept. 22 – L, 31-10 at #7 South Carolina; Sept. 29 – W, 21-16 at UCF

2012 – Sept. 8 – L, 41-20 vs. #7 Georgia; Sept. 15 – W, 24-20 vs. Arizona State

2011 – Nov. 5 – L, 42-39 at Baylor; Nov. 12 – W, 17-5 vs. #21 Texas

2011 – Oct. 22 – L, 45-24 at #6 Oklahoma St.; Oct. 29 – W, 38-31 (OT) at #16 Texas A&M

2011 – Oct. 8 – L, 24-17 at #20 Kansas State; Oct. 15 – W, 52-17 vs. Iowa State

2011 – Sept. 24 – L, 38-28 at #1 Oklahoma; Oct. 8 – L, 24-17 at #20 Kansas State

2011 – Sept. 9 – L, 37-30 (OT) at Arizona State; Sept. 17 – W, 69-0 vs. Western Illinois

2010 – Nov. 6 – L, 24-17 at Texas Tech; Nov. 13 – W, 38-28 vs. Kansas State

tiger defense taketh away - 25 straight games with a takeaway

Defensive coaches preach takeaways at all levels of the game of football.  Mizzou's coaches have gotten their message through to the Mizzou defense of late, as the Tigers carry an active streak of 25 games having gained a takeaway into Saturday's game with Kentucky.  The last time Mizzou's defense didn't come up with a turnover was Oct. 30, 2010 at Nebraska (a 31-17 loss).

Even though the final score of MU's last outing didn't go the Tigers' way, Mizzou's defense still created takeaways in its 42-10 loss to #1 Alabama.  The Tiger defense forced a pair of Crimson Tide fumbles, which were both forced by DE Michael Sam, with LB Zaviar Gooden pouncing on one, and DE Shane Ray snagging the other.  The first was recovered by Gooden at the Mizzou 12-yardline to thwart a potential Tide score, while the second one came on a hit by Sam of Tide QB A.J. McCarron, with Ray recovering at the Alabama 48-yardline.

Mizzou managed one takeaway against Vanderbilt, courtesy of a Kip Edwards interception in the the 3rd quarter (his team-leading 2nd of the season, 5th career).  The turnover streak came oh-so-close to ending the previous Saturday at Central Florida, but just like that, with only 2:29 remaining in the game, junior CB E.J. Gaines popped the ball loose from a UCF receiver after a short catch, and junior DT Sheldon Richardson gladly pounced on the fumble to effectively end the game.

Mizzou's defenders are doing something right in terms of getting the ball out.  Their 12 forced fumbles so far this season is tied for most in the nation.  Here's a look:


1. Mizzou  12

Boise State 12

Louisiana Tech 12

Fresno State 12

San Jose State 12

Utah  12

7. 4 Tied With 11

faurot field has been a tigers' lair

Mizzou has enjoyed quite a home field advantage at Faurot Field/Memorial Stadium (nicknamed "The Zou"), as the Tigers stand 51-21 overall at home (70.8%) in Head Coach Gary Pinkel's tenure (2001-present).

Here are a few more facts related to Mizzou playing at home:

• – From 2006-present, Mizzou has gone 33-9 at home, for a winning percentage of 78.6%...

• – From 2006-present, Mizzou has gone 16-9 at home in conference games, for a winning percentage of 64.0%...

• – Seven of those 9 home losses since 2006 came at the hands of ranked opponents.

tigers fall to #1 alabama, 42-10

Mizzou hosts Kentucky this Saturday on Homecoming, in hopes of bouncing back from a rough outing in its last game, as the Tigers suffered a 42-10 loss on Oct. 13th at home to top-ranked Alabama.

Field position was heavily in favor of the top-ranked Crimson Tide, as only one of Alabama's six scoring drives had to go longer than 54 yards.  The length of their six drives (all TDs) included: 75 yards, 50 yards, 17 yards, 54 yards, 41 yards and 54 yards, respectively.

The Crimson Tide wasted no time in establishing the upper hand, as Tide running back Eddie Lacy scampered 73 yards for a touchdown on the 2nd play of the game for a quick 7-0 lead.  After the teams traded punts, Mizzou was hit by the turnover bug, as QB Corbin Berkstresser (subbing for injured starter James Franklin, who was out with a knee injury sustained the week before against Vanderbilt) had a ball go off the hands of a Tiger receiver, and into the diving arms of Alabama's Vinnie Sunseri at midfield.  'Bama made it 14-0 three plays later, and just minutes later it stood 21-0 after a Tiger punt was blocked, with the Tide taking over on the MU 17-yardline.

Mizzou's defense forced a pair of Alabama fumbles in the 2nd quarter which the Tigers recovered (one at the MU 12-yardline, the other at the 'Bama 48-yardline), but the Tiger offense couldn't capitalize on either takeaway.  Alabama extended the lead to 28-0 with 8:40 left in the first half.

A lightning delay halted the game for roughly 40 minutes, but then Tiger return man extraordinaire Marcus Murphy electrified the crowd right away out of the lockerroom, when he took Alabama's kickoff and went 98 yards for a touchdown to cut the deficit to 28-7.  The Tigers had a golden opportunity to cut into the Tide lead just before halftime, as Mizzou reached the Alabama 9-yardline in the waning seconds of the half.  But MU's Berkstresser was sacked on 3rd-and-8 from the 9-yardline, and the ball popped free, and rolled all the way to near midfield amid the scramble for the loose ball, with Alabama recovering, and subsequently running out the clock.

After an abbreviated halftime, the Tigers put together their best drive of the night, and took the opening kick of the 2nd half for a 41-yard field goal by Andrew Baggett to cut the deficit to 28-10.  That's how the third quarter would end, even though the Tigers had a pair of possessions which reached as far as the Tide 44-yardline and the Mizzou 47-yardline.

'Bama tacked on a pair of short TD runs in the 4th quarter, capitalizing on short fields both times, to account for the final score.  In all, Alabama turned 3 Mizzou turnovers into 14 points, with the third being just as crucial, as it wiped out a golden scoring chance for the Tigers right before the half.  Mizzou's defense forced a pair of Tide fumbles, but the Tigers couldn't do anything with those takeaways on the night.

mizzou falls to vanderbilt, 19-15

Mizzou fell to 3-3 on the season, and 0-3 in SEC action on Oct. 6th after suffering a tough 19-15 home loss to Vanderbilt.  Here's some post game thoughts:

• – It's been a theme all year for Mizzou, and while Head Coach Gary Pinkel won't use it as an excuse, there's no denying that injuries played a major factor in the outcome.  The Tigers started the game without the services of senior co-captain and leading tackler, LB Will Ebner, who couldn't go because of a bum hamstring.  As if that wasn't adversity enough, game-breaker TB/PR Marcus Murphy (with a nation-leading 3 punt returns for TDs in 2012) dislocated his right ring finger at the end of a 25-yard run on MU's first possession of the game, and he was lost for the night.  Perhaps the biggest blow came on the next offensive series, when junior QB James Franklin broke off an exciting 23-yard run that set Mizzou up at the Vandy 13-yardline.  The drive stalled out, and the Tigers had to settle for a second-straight short field goal, and a 6-0 lead.  Franklin came up gimpy after that run, however, and was lost for the rest of the game due to a sprained left knee.  Under Franklin's guidance, the Tiger offense had drove 123 yards in its first two possessions, and looked to be ready for a big night, but his absence proved difficult to overcome the rest of the way.  To cap off the injury news, sophomore starting center Mitch Morse was lost for the game in the 3rd quarter, when he suffered a sprained left knee, as well.  He did not return either...

• – Redshirt freshman QB Corbin Berkstresser relieved Franklin, and led the Tiger offense to two scores on the night, but he faced constant pressure from the aggressive Vandy defense, and with defenders in his face most of the night, was held to 9-of-30 passing performance, for 189 yards an 1 TD...

• – No discredit to Vanderbilt whatsoever, but there's no doubt that Mizzou felt like it gave the Commodores their first 9 points of the game.  Mizzou held a 6-0 lead late in the 1st quarter, but was pinned deep, and had to punt from its own 2-yardline.  Punter Trey Barrow (who had a nice game, averaging 41.0 yards on 6 punts) had the snap slip through his hands, however, and the ball squirted out of the back of the endzone for a safety, cutting MU's lead to 6-2 with :30 seconds left in the quarter.  Meanwhile, the Tiger defense was lights out in the first half, allowing a total of 18 yards of offense for Vanderbilt in their first 5 possessions, which ended in 4 punts and one turnover on downs.  Midway through the 2nd quarter, the Commodores put together their first drive, going from their 24-yardline, to the Tiger 36, before a 3rd-and-7 pass went incomplete.  Vandy punted the ball away, but a crucial call went against Mizzou, as DT Sheldon Richardson was penalized for the new safety rule of leaping over the personal protection shield for the punter.  That 15-yard personal foul gave Vanderbilt new life, and four plays later, Zac Stacy ran it in from 5 yards out to give the Commodores a 9-6 lead with 3:47 left in the half...

• – That's how the score stood at halftime, despite the fact that Mizzou had allowed only 84 yards of offense to that point (76 of which came on VU's penalty-extended scoring drive)...

• – Mizzou CB Kip Edwards picked off Vanderbilt QB Jordan Rodgers with 9:12 left in the 3rd quarter, and he returned it 31 yards to the Vanderbilt 45-yardline, but the Tiger offense couldn't move the ball and had to punt it away.  The Commodores drove into MU territory before punting it back, and the Tigers put together a promising drive.  Starting at their own 8-yardline, MU got some breathing room when Berkstresser hit WR Marcus Lucas for 17 yards.  Lucas fumbled the ball while being tackled, and Mizzou WR Bud Sasser alertly picked it up and raced 16 yards further, putting MU at the Tiger 44-yardline.  The drive continued to a 1st-and-goal at the Vanderbilt 9-yardline, but a pair of rushes could push it only to the 4, and Berkstresser's 3rd-and-goal pass into the endzone was incomplete, forcing a third Andrew Baggett field goal, which he made from 22 yards to tie it up at 9-9 with 0:30 seconds left in the quarter...

• – Needing a stop to keep the momentum, the Tiger defense was quickly on its heels as Vanderbilt had consecutive gains of 18, 24 and 10 yards to reach the MU 22-yardline.  Stacy then took over, running for 8 yards and capping off the quick 5-play, 74-yard drive with his 14-yard touchdown to make it 16-9 with 13:32 remaining...

• – While the Mizzou crowd was deflated after that series, they got pumped up quickly on the following Tiger possession, as Berkstresser found Sasser down the right sideline for an 85-yard touchdown with 12:11 to play.  That marked Mizzou's longest touchdown pass since 1976 at Nebraska (98-yarder from Pete Woods to Joe Stewart).  Another special teams mishap struck again next, though, as the PAT snap was off the mark, and holder T.J. Moe was unable to complete a pass after being forced to scramble with the ball, leaving Vanderbilt with a 16-15 lead...

• – The Commodores converted a pair of 3rd-and-longs on their next series, and drove for a field goal for a 19-15 lead with 7:20 to play.  Mizzou responded right back, and got to a 1st-and-10 at the Vandy 24-yardline, but couldn't score, as a rush for a loss was followed by three straight incompletions.  Had the safety and missed extra point not come into play, the Tigers would have been setting up for a game-winning field goal, instead of being forced to go for a touchdown as the only viable option that late in the game.  Vanderbilt ran out the clock from there to sew up the win...

tigers post 21-16 win at central florida

Marcus Murphy returned a punt 66 yards for a touchdown and James Franklin added an 80-yard touchdown pass to freshman WR Dorial Green-Beckham as Missouri ground out a 21-16 win over Central Florida in Orlando on Sept. 29th to move to 3-2 overall.

Mizzou TB Kendial Lawrence ran for 104 yards (with 101 of them coming in the second half), and scored from 10 yards out with 9:31 left in the game to give the Tigers their first bit of breathing room, with a 21-10 lead.  The Knights got back in the game with their own score with 4:34 remaining, but the ensuing two-point conversion pass was knocked away by Tiger CB Kip Edwards to leave it at 21-16.

Mizzou was unable to kill the clock, but following a Tigers punt, Knights receiver Jeff Godfrey's fumble with 2:26 left allowed Missouri (3-2) to hang on.  The turnover, which extended Mizzou's active streak to 23 games with a takeaway, was caused on a hit by junior CB E.J. Gaines, and recovered by junior DT Sheldon Richardson.  It was a fitting end to big days by both star defenders, as Gaines led all players with a career-high 13 tackles, including 2.0 tackles for loss, and one pass break up to go with the forced fumble.  Richardson added nine tackles, and added 2.0 tackles for loss, 1.0 sack and two quarterback hurries to go with his recovered fumble.

UCF (2-2) controlled the first half, using a ball control offense which ran for 113 yards in the opening 30 minutes, against a Tiger defense which came into the game allowing only 107.00 yards per game.  Despite holding a massive edge in time of possession in the first half (21:59-to-8:01), the Knights could only take a slim 10-7 lead into the lockerroom at halftime.

A 42-yard UCF field goal by Shawn Moffitt with 3:28 to play in the first quarter gave the Knights a 3-0 lead, and it marked the first points scored against Mizzou's defense in the first quarter in 2012.

Missouri had several promising drives stall early before getting on the board via an 80-yard touchdown strike from Franklin to Dorial Green-Beckham. That gave the Tigers a 7-3 lead in the opening minutes of the second quarter.

UCF defensive back A.J. Bouye briefly had Green-Beckham locked up by the legs near the 50 before slipping to the turf. Green-Beckham then sprinted untouched into the end zone.  The play, the Tigers' longest from scrimmage this season, also was a career-best for Franklin.

The Knights responded on the ensuing drive, with Blake Bortles using a 41-yard pass to Rob Calabrese to set up an 11-yard touchdown pass to Quincy McDuffie.

Following a series of punts, UCF got hot again and drove the ball from its own 12 all the way inside the Tigers' 10 with less than 2 minutes to play in the half.

A pass interference call on Missouri gave the Knights first-and-goal on the 3. But after a stuffed run and incomplete pass, the opportunity was squandered as Tiger DE Michael Sam sacked Bortles on the 8-yardline, and time expired before the Knights could run out their field goal team.

Franklin bounced back from a rough outing the previous week at South Carolina, and put together his best game of 2012, going 19-for-30 for 257 yards and the one TD.

Prior to Murphy's punt return, the Knights looked to be taking control of the game, leading 10-7 and coming off an interception and fourth sack of Franklin early in the third quarter.

The Tigers were successful at times with their hurry-up offense, but UCF's defense also helped keep Franklin off balance, sacking him three times in the opening 30 minutes.

Mizzou's defense made adjustments in the second half, and held the Knights to just 15 rushing yards after intermission, after they gained 113 yards on the ground in the opening half.  At the same time, the Tiger offense used its own ground attack after halftime, with Lawrence getting the bulk of the work, as he carried 18 times in the second half for 101 yards and a touchdown.  Missouri looked like a new team in the second half in all three phases of the game. The Tigers allowed 21 first half first downs to the Knights, but relinquished just one in the third quarter to regain the lead. For the second half UCF managed to move the chains just six times.

gary pinkel is 9th-winningest active fbs coach with 161 wins

Mizzou Head Coach Gary Pinkel stands ranked as the 9th-winningest active coach in the NCAA FBS ranks, with his 161 career wins (161-95-3 overall).  Pinkel, in his 12th season at Mizzou, stands 88-58 overall at MU, while he went 73-37-3 in 10 seasons at Toledo (1991-2000).  Here's a rundown of the winningest active coaches, based on win totals (through games of Oct. 20th)...


Coach, School   Yrs. W L              T Pct.

1. Frank Beamer, Virginia Tech  31 255 124 4 .671

2. Mack Brown, Texas  29 232 115 1 .668

3. Chris Ault, Nevada  27 231 105 1 .687

4. Steve Spurrier, South Carolina 23 203   77 2 .723

5. Brian Kelly, Notre Dame  22 194   67 2 .741

6. Mike Price, UTEP   31 176 180 0 .494

7. Larry Blakeney, Troy  22 168   93 1 .643

8. Bill Snyder, Kansas State  21 165   83 1 .665

9. Gary Pinkel, Mizzou  22 161   95 3 .627

10.Paul Pasqualoni, UCONN  21 149   87 1 .631

pinkel has third-most wins in mizzou history

Mizzou Head Coach Gary Pinkel is in his 12th season at MU (22nd overall as a head coach) and touts a career record of 161-95-3 (62.7%).

Pinkel, who has led MU to a combined record of 66-33 (66.7%) over the past 7+ seasons, and to bowl games in 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010 and 2011, has a 12-year record in Columbia of 88-58 (60.3%).  Dating back to the 2005 Independence Bowl win over Steve Spurrier and South Carolina, Pinkel has gone 60-28 in his last 88 games overall (68.2%).  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 88.  The win over Kansas in 2010 was the 150th of his career.

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...


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 88 12 (2001-Present) 88-58 .603 8

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

In 2007, Pinkel guided the Tigers from unranked in the pre-season to a team which won a school-record 12 games and a final ranking of #4 in the Associated Press Top-25.  Mizzou ascended to #1 in the BCS rankings following the regular season, and stood just one half away from playing in the BCS National Championship Game (before Oklahoma pulled away from a halftime tie to win the Big 12 title game).  For his 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, and his 7 bowl games is an MU record

Pinkel has directed Mizzou to 8 winning seasons (8-5 in 2003, 7-5 in 2005, 8-5 in 2006, 12-2 in 2007, 10-4 in 2008, 8-5 in 2009, 10-3 in 2010 and 8-5 in 2011), with those representing 8 of MU's 10 winning campaigns dating back to the 1983 season.

The Big 12 North Division titles won by Mizzou in 2007, 2008 and 2010 represent the only football conference titles of any kind Mizzou has won since 1969 – the last time it claimed a share of the old Big Eight Conference crown.  In April of 2011, Pinkel agreed to a two-year contract extension, meaning he'll patrol the Tiger sidelines through the 2017 season.

richardson playing at elite level

Junior defensive tackle Sheldon Richardson has been playing at a high level all season long, as he's looking to establish himself among the best in a league with a reputation for having the best defensive linemen around.

With 52 tackles through 7 games, Richardson is amazingly Mizzou's leading tackler, despite being a defensive tackle.  He also ranks 1st in the SEC among interior defensive linemen with his 52 total tackles, and his per-game tackles average of 7.4 ranks him 14th in the SEC among all players, and 2nd among all defensive linemen (DE Damontre Moore of Texas A&M has 8.9 per game in 7 games).

The Tiger defense had a tough time bottling up #1 Alabama its last time out, but Richardson was a bright spot for Mizzou, as he led the team with a career-best 14 tackles, while adding 1 QB sack on the night.  In his last 5 games, Richardson has amassed 44 tackles, 4.0 QB sacks, 6.5 tackles for loss, 1 forced fumble and 1 recovered fumble.

Richardson had a QB sack and 1.5 TFLs in all the against Vanderbilt, as the Tigers limited the Commodore offense to just 295 yards on the night.  He finished the game with 5 tackles and added a QB hurry to his stat line, as well.

Prior to that, Richardson continued his all-star caliber play in Mizzou's Sept. 29th win at UCF.  Richardson was again a high-impact performer, as he contributed with 9 tackles, 2.0 TFLs, 1.0 QB sack, and 2 QB hurries.  Additionally, he pounced on the game-saving fumble with 2:29 to play in the game near midfield, which gave Mizzou possession while holding onto its 21-16 lead.

The previous week at South Carolina, Richardson was in on virtually every defensive play in the 1st quarter.  First, he had a QB hurry which forced what proved to be the only pass incompletion of the day by Carolina's Connor Shaw.  Then he sacked Shaw, and on the very next play forced a fumble after a completed pass to give the Tigers the ball back on their own 16-yardline.  He added another tackle in the quarter, and ended the day with a 7-tackle outing.

That was a follow-up performance to a big game Richardson had the previous week against Arizona State, when he was a big part of Mizzou's solid defensive effort in a 24-20 win over the Sun Devils.  In that game, Richardson notched a career-high 9 tackles, with 1.5 tackles for loss and a half-QB sack thrown in the mix, to go with 1 QB hurry as well on a night when it seemed he was either in on, or influenced every play.

Mizzou's defense held Arizona State to 236 yards and 34 points below their average offensive output, as the Sun Devils entered the game averaging 532.0 yards and 54.0 points a contest.  Richardson's effort was a big reason why the Tigers held ASU to just 296 yards of total offense and 20 points.

lawrence doing well with increased workload

Senior TB Kendial Lawrence has excelled since taking over as Mizzou's feature back, after the Tigers lost Henry Josey to a season-ending knee injury in game #8 of the 2011 season.  Lawrence is averaging 74.9 rushing yards per game in 2012, ranking 10th in the SEC in that category.  He enters the Kentucky game with 7-game totals of 95 carries for 558 yards and 5 TDs, with a per-carry average of 5.5.

A crunching of some numbers shows how much Lawrence has blossomed since taking over the bulk of the tailback carries.  Per the table below, he's gained more yards and more rushing TDs in his last 11 games than he did in his first 29 career games combined.  Here's a look:


Category  1st 29 Games Last 11 Games

Rush Attempts 178  161

Rushes/Game 6.1  14.6

Rushing Yards 836  895

Yards/Game  28.8  81.4

Rushing TDs  6  8

Yards/Rush  4.7  5.6

Lawrence is coming off a 10-carry, 37-yard outing against #1 Alabama that saw Mizzou's rushing game held to a season-low 3 yards against the vaunted Crimson Tide defense.  Lawrence had a 22-yard run against the Tide in the 1st quarter, which is the longest run Alabama has allowed so far in 2012.

Prior to that, Lawrence turned in a 92-yard rushing night in the loss to Vanderbilt.  He carried a career-high 21 times in the game, as the Tigers gained 150 yards on the ground in total against the Commodores.

Lawrence had quite a second half at Central Florida, and his production after intermission was a huge key to Mizzou's 21-16 win at UCF.  The Tigers fell behind 10-7 at halftime, and Lawrence was held to a single rush for 3 yards (on MU's 2nd snap of the game), and a 14-yard reception on MU's second series.

Tiger coaches made a concerted effort to get the playmaker more involved in the second half, and the strategy paid dividends, as Lawrence accounted for 137 yards from scrimmage after halftime, including 101 rushing yards on 18 carries.  He finished the game with 104 rushing yards on 19 attempts, for a solid average of 5.5 yards a rush.  He had a nifty 33-yarder in the 4th quarter which took the ball to the UCF 10-yardline, and on the next play, he scampered around the right edge for a 10-yard TD with 9:31 left in the game to give MU some breathing room, at 21-10.

He also established career highs in receptions (4) and receiving yards (50), as QB James Franklin used Lawrence effectively as a safety outlet out of the backfield.

The 100-yard rushing game was the 2nd of the season for Lawrence, who opened the 2012 campaign with a career-high 121-yard, 2-TD outing against Southeastern Louisiana.  He's got 4 100-yard rushing games to his credit, with all four coming in his last 11 games overall.

gaines providing dividends for tiger defense

Junior CB E.J. Gaines is following up his 1st-Team All-Big 12 season of a year ago in fine fashion.  Opposing offenses don't seem to throw his way much, but when they do, he's been up to the challenge much more often than not (his 5 pass break ups are most on the team and 7th in the SEC), and he's also been heavily involved in run support for Mizzou's improved run defense.  Gaines enters the Kentucky game ranked 4th on the team with 42 tackles, but perhaps most impressively, he is tied for 3rd on the team lead with 7.5 tackles for loss.

That TFL figure ranks him tops among all SEC defensive backs, and puts him 83rd nationally among all defenders, including 4th among all defenders listed as defensive backs on the NCAA website.  Here's a look at those figures:


Rank Player, School   TFL/Game

7.  Chris Young, Arizona St.  1.79

21.  Tra'Mayne Bondurant, Arizona 1.50

70.  Usua Amanam, Stanford  1.07

83.  E.J. Gaines, Mizzou  1.00

Gaines was credited with four tackles last time out against #1 Alabama.  Prior to that, he had a pair of tackles for loss in MU's defeat to Vanderbilt, and he finished the night with 7 tackles in all.  Prior to that, he had a huge effort in Mizzou's gutsy 21-16 win at Central Florida.

Gaines was all over the field in the UCF win, as he registered a career-best 13 tackles (plus 1 PBU, 2.0 TFLs and 1 forced fumble).  Gaines had an impactful 4th quarter, as he had 2 tackles for loss on consecutive plays to force a UCF punt with MU clinging to a 14-10 lead.  He later forced a fumble near midfield with 2:29 left in the game that was recovered by Mizzou to effectively end the game and protect MU's 5-point lead.

mizzou defense getting in the backfield - 1st in sec, 4th in ncaa in tfls

Mizzou's defense has been very aggressive at the line of scrimmage this season, and it's shown in the amount of plays they've made in the backfield.  The Tiger defense enters Saturday's game against Kentucky ranked tops in the SEC in tackles for loss (8.43 per game), a figure which ranks them 4th nationally.  Here's a look at that:


Rank School   TFL/Game

1.  Arizona State  9.43

2.  Tulsa   9.38

3.  Stanford   8.71

4.  Mizzou   8.43

North Carolina State 8.43

mizzou has 13th-most wins in the nation since 2007

There's no question that Head Coach Gary Pinkel and his Mizzou Football program has elevated itself to among the nation's elite.  With its 10-win season in 2010, MU won its 40th game since 2007, good for an average of 10 per year during the four-year stretch.

Including a 3-4 start in 2012, MU's 51 wins since 2007 ranks as 13th-most in the nation (among BCS automatic qualifying conferences).  Here's a look at the win totals among the nation's best during that time (through Oct. 20th):


School  2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 Total

1. Alabama  7 12 14 10 12   7 62

2. LSU  12  8  9 11 13   7 60

Oregon  9 10 10 12 12   7 60

4. Ohio State 11 10 11 12  6   8 58

Oklahoma 11 12  8 12 10   5 58

6. Florida  9 13 13  8  7   7 57

Virginia Tech 11 10 10 11 11   4 57

8. USC 11 12  9  8 10   6 55

9. West Virginia 11  9  9  9 10   5 53

Texas 10 12 13  5  8   5 53

11.Wisconsin  9  7 10 11 11   6 54

12.Oklahoma St.  7  9  9 11 12   4 52

13.Missouri 12 10  8 10  8   3 51

Non BCS-AQ League Schools:

Boise St. 10 12 14 12 12   6 66

TCU   8 11 12 13 11   5 60

BYU  11 10 11  7 10   4 53

Utah   9 13 10 10  8   2 52

NOTE – Utah & TCU are not listed among BCS Conferences, due to being in a non-BCS AQ league prior to 2012.

tiger defense holding its own

Mizzou's defense has played very well through 7 games in 2012, as it has held opponents under their season averages in most every category.  Top-ranked Alabama became the first opponent to get 400 yards of total offense or more against MU this season.  Georgia's point total from Sept. 8th was a bit misleading – keep in mind the Bulldogs had only 27 points until two MU turnovers late in the game gave UGA possession on the MU 1-yardline and the MU 5-yardline, leading to 14 points.

Here's a look at how Mizzou's defense has held up its end of the bargain so far, when compared to FBS opponents updated offensive averages thus far:


Current vs. Current vs. Current vs. Current vs.

Opponent Rush Avg. MU Pass Avg. MU Tot. Off. Avg. MU Pts. Avg. MU

Georgia 205.14 113 281.71 242 486.86 355 39.57 41

Arizona State 188.43 113 280.43 183 468.86 296 37.71 20

at S. Carolina 144.88 144 210.00 252 354.88 396 31.25 31

at UCF 169.29 128 231.43 267 400.71 395 33.43 16

Vanderbilt 157.57  89 210.43 206 368.00 295 20.00 19

Alabama 219.43 362 220.14 171 439.57 533 41.00 42

defense clamping down out of the lockerroom

Mizzou's defense, which enters Saturday's game against Kentucky ranked 41st in the NCAA in total defense (356.14 avg. yds. allowed), has been outstanding thru seven games coming out of the lockerroom.  Only once has MU's seven opponents scored on their initial series of the 1st half and 2nd half.  In those 14 initial series, MU foes have a grand total of just 10 1st downs, and a net total of 221 yards!  Here's a look:

• 1st Q vs. SELA – 2 plays, (-2 yds), 0:38 TOP (Ended w/MU interception)

• 3rd Q vs. SELA – 2 plays, 2 yds, 0:17 TOP (Ended w/MU fumble recovery)

• 1st Q vs. Georgia – 3 plays, (-12 yds), 2:17 TOP (Ended w/punt)

• NOTE - This UGA possession started on the MU 37-yardline

• 3rd Q vs. Georgia – 3 plays, (-7 yds), 2:24 TOP (Ended w/punt)

• 1st Q vs. ASU – 4 plays, 28 yds, 1:21 TOP (Ended w/punt)

• 3rd Q vs. ASU – 6 plays, 20 yds, 3:07 TOP (Ended w/punt)

• 1st Q at S. Carolina – 4 plays, 27 yds, 1:50 TOP (Ended w/punt)

• 3rd Q at S. Carolina – 6 plays, 53 yds, 3:22 TOP (Ended w/fumble recovery)

• 1st Q at UCF – 7 plays, 25 yds, 4:10 TOP (Ended w/punt)

• 3rd Q at UCF – 3 plays, (-1 yd), 1:26 TOP (Ended w/punt)

• 1st Q vs. Vandy – 3 plays, 8 yds, 1:31 TOP (Ended w/punt)

• 3rd Q vs. Vandy – 5 plays, 7 yds, 2:50 TOP (Ended w/punt)

• 1st Q vs. Alabama – 2 plays, 75 yds, 0:45 TOP (Ended w/TD run)

• 3rd Q vs. Alabama – 3 plays, (-2 yds), 2:30 TOP (Ended w/punt)

The Tiger defense's stingy play hasn't been limited to just opening drives.  Opponents had not scored at all in the 1st quarter until UCF's field goal late in the 1st quarter on Sept. 29th.  That marked the first points scored by opponents in the opening quarter against Mizzou in 2012.  Vanderbilt got a safety with :30 seconds left in the 1st quarter last Saturday when a punt snap went through punter Trey Barrow's hands and out of the endzone.  Top-ranked Alabama became the first opponent to score on its initial drive of the game, as the Crimson Tide got a 73-yard TD run on the 2nd play of the game to mark the first TD scored by opponents against Mizzou this year in the 1st quarter.

mizzou is ncaa's alltime overtime king

If it seems like Mizzou has been involved in a lot of overtime games, well, you're not crazy, because the Tigers have played in more OT games than any school since the rule was put in place for the 1995 bowl season.

The Tigers played 2 overtime affairs in 2011, and after its thrilling comeback 38-31 OT win at #16 Texas A&M, Mizzou went 1-1 on the year in overtime games.  Coupled with Mizzou's OT game at Arizona State (won by the Sun Devils, 37-30), Mizzou has now played 14 overtime games, which is most in NCAA history, through games of Oct. 20th.  Schools next on the list with 13 overtime games include LSU (8-5), Fresno State (5-8), North Carolina State (8-5), Texas A&M (7-6), Pittsburgh (6-7), TCU (5-8), SMU (3-10) and Syracuse (7-6).

More importantly, when Mizzou goes to overtime, more often than not it comes out on the winning side.  Mizzou owns 10 OT wins alltime, which is the most in FBS history entering this weekend (tied with Tennessee, who is 10-2 alltime).  The Tigers had won five straight OT games until last year's OT defeat at Arizona State.

Here's a quick glance at MU's overtime history:

Year Opponent (Rank) Result #OTs

1996 Oklahoma State W, 35-28 OT

1996 at Baylor W, 49-42 3-OT

1997 at Oklahoma State (12) W, 51-50 2-OT

1997 Nebraska (1) L, 45-38 OT

1999 at Colorado L, 46-39 OT

2001 at Oklahoma State W, 41-38 3-OT

2002 Colorado (18) L, 42-35 OT

2002 at Texas A&M W, 33-27 2-OT

2003 Middle Tennessee State W, 41-40 OT

2004 at Iowa State W, 17-14 OT

2005 Iowa State W, 27-24 OT

2008 Northwestern (22) W, 30-23 OT

2011 Arizona State (23) L, 37-30 OT

2011 at Texas A&M (16) W, 38-31 OT

Interestingly, MU Head Coach Gary Pinkel is credited with winning the very first overtime game ever played in Division I history, when his Toledo Rockets beat Nevada, 40-37, in the 1995 Las Vegas Bowl.  The overtime rule was put into effect for that bowl season, and has been in use ever since.

Pinkel is now 9-2 alltime in his career in overtime games, including 7-2 at Mizzou.


Thru Games of 10/20/12

Games Schools Record

14 Mizzou 10-4

13 LSU 8-5

13 North Carolina St. 8-5

13 Syracuse 7-6

13 Texas A&M 7-6

13 Pittsburgh 6-7

13 Fresno State 5-8

13 TCU 5-8

13 SMU 3-10

12 Tennessee 10-2

12 Arkansas 9-3

12 Oregon 8-4

12 Auburn 7-5

12 Utah 7-5

12 Mississippi 6-6

12 East Carolina 6-6

12 Alabama 4-8

12 Notre Dame 4-8

12 Purdue 4-8

12 Washington St. 4-8

11 Northwestern 8-3

11 Air Force 6-5

11 Central Michigan 6-5

11 Clemson 6-5

11 Idaho 5-6

11 Miami, Fla. 5-6

11 UNLV 3-8

10 California 6-4

10 Cincinnati 6-4

10 Colorado 5-5

10 Houston 5-5

10 Minnesota 4-6

10 Iowa State 3-7

murphy does it again, leads nation in punt return tds

Sophomore scatback Marcus Murphy has established himself as one of the most dangerous punt returners in the nation, and it's been a welcome sign for the DeSoto, Texas native, after he missed the entire 2011 season due to a shoulder injury.  In just six games this season, he's already twice been named the SEC Special Teams Player of the Week (Week #1, Week #6).

His status for Saturday's game is uncertain, but it is hoped he can be on the field when Mizzou takes on top-ranked Alabama.  He left last Saturday's loss to Vanderbilt after touching the ball just once, when he sped around the left edge on a season-long 25-yard run to take the ball to the Vandy 23-yardline on the game's opening possession.  Unfortunately, his right ring finger got tangled in a Vandy defender's facemask, and the finger was dislocated on the tackle.  Murphy came out of the game and was unable to return.

In his first season as a punt returner, Murphy has already established himself among the nation's most dangerous return men.  He's got 3 punt return TDs for scores so far, in 14 attempts, and those 3 TDs are most in the nation.    The only other player nationally to have more than one punt return score through games of Oct. 6th is Rashad Greene of Florida State, who has 2.

Murphy broke off a 66-yard punt return for a touchdown in the 3rd quarter of Mizzou's 21-16 win at Central Florida on Sept. 29th.  It was a huge momentum play which turned a 10-7 Tiger deficit into a 14-10 Mizzou lead with 7:04 left in the 3rd quarter.

It marked the 3rd punt return for a TD on the year by Murphy, giving him sole possession of the MU single-season punt return TD record (he had punt return TDs of 72 and 70 yards earlier vs. SELA).  He is now also tied for the MU career punt return TD record of 3, shared with former All-American All-Purpose player Jeremy Maclin.

Murphy ended the UCF game with 3 punt returns for 70 yards and the score, plus he returned one kickoff 33 yards.  He currently ranks 1st in the SEC and is 4th in the NCAA with his punt return average of 20.07 yards, and his 3 punt return TDs is most in the nation.

tiger offense has quick-strike ability

Mizzou's #1 offense hasn't been clicking on all cylinders this season (injuries and youth up front have certainly played a factor, as have some pretty good opposing defenses), but when it works, it works at lightning-fast pace.

The Tiger #1 offense has turned in 19 scoring drives through 7 games in 2012.  Only 7 of those have taken longer than 2:30 of clock time, as the Tigers have been quick about their business offensively.

Of those 19 scoring drives, 11 of them have produced TDs.  The average time it has taken in those 11 touchdown drives?  A mere 1:11 (71 seconds).

Mizzou's offense was kept out of the endzone against #1 Alabama (MU got its sole TD on a 98-yard Marcus Murphy kickoff return score), and got only one touchdown previously against Vanderbilt, not that it didn't have its chances.  Three trips to the red zone provided only a trio of Andrew Baggett field goals, with those red zone stalls playing a big role in MU's 19-15 defeat.  The one touchdown of the night came on, you guessed it, a quick strike, as backup QB Corbin Berkstresser found WR Bud Sasser for an 85-yard touchdown pass early in the 4th quarter to cap a drive that took 1:11 of clock time.

The previous Saturday at UCF was a prime example.  Mizzou's offense was held to 14 points and 346 yards (the other 7 came on a Marcus Murphy 66-yard punt return score), but those two scores were quick and efficient.  The first was an 80-yard TD pass from QB James Franklin to WR Dorial Green-Beckham early in the 2nd quarter which put the Tigers on top, 7-3.  The second score came with 9:31 to play in the game, when TB Kendial Lawrence scored on a 10-yard run to make it 21-10.  That capped a quick 3-play, 43-yard TD drive which consumed just :40 seconds in all.

The average time of the #1 offense's 19 scoring drives so far has been just 2:10, and they had a stretch where 5 straight scores against SELA and Georgia consumed a grand total of 189 seconds, or an average of :37 seconds.

Here's a look at the #1 offense's scoring drives so far in 2012:

• vs. SELA – 11 plays, 75 yds, 3:52 TOP (Moe 2-yd TD reception)

• vs. SELA – 1 play, 76 yds, 0:14 TOP (Lawrence 76-yd TD run)

• vs. SELA – 3 plays, 25 yds, 0:39 TOP (Lawrence 1-yd TD run)

• vs. Georgia – 4 plays, 5 yds, 0:59 TOP (Baggett 38 FG)

• vs. Georgia – 3 plays, 63 yds, 0:31 TOP (Lucas 41-yd TD reception)

• vs. Georgia – 3 plays, 70 yds, 0:46 TOP (Washington 69-yd TD reception)

• vs. Georgia – 13 plays, 63 yds, 4:41 TOP (Baggett 25 FG)

• vs. ASU – 9 plays, 29 yds, 3:35 TOP (Baggett 46 FG)

• vs. ASU – 4 plays, 18 yds, 1:35 TOP (Berkstresser 6 TD run)

• vs. ASU – 4 plays, 18 yds, 1:25 TOP (Lawrence 7 TD run)

• vs. ASU – 6 plays, 33 yds, 2:02 TOP (Lawrence 1 TD run)

• at S.Carolina – 12 plays, 76 yards, 4:42 TOP (Baggett 22 FG)

• at UCF – 1 play, 80 yards, 0:11 TOP (Green-Beckham 80-yd TD reception)

• at UCF – 3 plays, 43 yards, 0:40 TOP (L, awrence 10-yd TD run)

•vs. Vandy – 9 plays, 61 yards, 2:16 TOP (Baggett 31 FG)

•vs. Vandy – 9 plays, 62 yards, 4:27 TOP (Baggett 28 FG)

•vs. Vandy – 15 plays, 88 yards, 4:52 TOP (Baggett 22 FG)

•vs. Vandy – 3 plays, 78 yards, 1:11 TOP (Sasser 85-yd TD reception)

•vs. Alabama – 7 plays, 51 yards, 3:03 TOP (Baggett 41 FG)

baggett knocking 'em through

Redshirt freshman PK Andrew Baggett has found his footing, so to speak, as the season has progressed.  He's got a streak of 5 consecutive field goals made coming into Saturday's game against Kentucky.  Baggett won the kicking job in fall camp, unseating Trey Barrow, a senior who handled kicking duties for the last half of the 2011 season, but he had a rough start to the season.  Baggett was good on just 3 of his first 7 field goal tries through 3 games, going 2-of-3 against Georgia and then just 1-of-4 in a win over Arizona State.  The make against ASU was a career-long 46-yarder.

Since then, Baggett has made all 5 kicks, including a 22-yarder at South Carolina right before halftime, and that was followed by a perfect 3-of-3 outing against Vanderbilt (31, 28, 22).  Last time out against #1 Alabama, he came in and was perfect on a 41-yard field goal to open the 3rd quarter.  The strong-legged righty also took over kickoff duties last time out against Alabama, and he had 1 touchback on 3 tries.  For the season, Baggett has 2 touchbacks on 6 kickoffs total.

wilson 1st in ncaa in forced fumbles

Take a poll among members of the Missouri Tiger team, and you'll likely get a near unanimous vote that says junior LB Andrew Wilson is the hardest hitter on the team.  Wilson has been especially good at popping the ball loose against opposing ball carriers, as he forced a fumble in each of Mizzou's first four games of the 2012 season, and his per-game average of 0.57 forced fumbles per game is currently tied for best in the nation.  Here's a look at that category:


1. Andrew Wilson, Mizzou    .57

1. Calvin Pryor, Louisville    .57

Ifo Ekpre-Olomu, Oregon    .57

Khaseem Greene, Rutgers    .57

Wilson is coming off an 8-tackle outing vs. #1 Alabama (with a half-tackle for loss).  Prior to that, he couldn't knock a ball out against Vanderbilt, but he was still an active part of Mizzou's solid defensive effort which allowed only 295 yards of offense, as he totaled 9 tackles (1/2 TFL), and broke up one pass.  Through 7 games in 2012, Wilson ranks 3rd on the squad with 45 tackles.

At UCF Wilson contributed to the cause with 6 tackles to help Mizzou in its 21-16 road win.  He didn't cause a fumble in that game, and that broke a personal string dating back to last season, which had seen him force a fumble in five consecutive games.

Against Arizona State, Wilson tied for the team lead with 9 tackles, including 8 of the solo variety.  He also forced a fumble which was recovered by the Tigers.  Wilson, who was MU's leading tackler in 2011 (98 tackles in 13 games), is the son of former Tiger standout LB Jay Wilson, who lettered from 1980-83 (All-Big Eight in '83), and who left MU holding the school's career tackles record, with 323 (he now ranks 12th on the list).

tiger schedule ranks as 3rd-toughest per sagarin; 7th per ncaa

According to two major rankings entities, very few teams have played a tougher schedule to date than the Missouri Tigers.  According to the Sagaran Rankings, Mizzou's schedule is the 3rd-toughest so far, while the NCAA ranks Mizzou's slate of past foes as the #7-toughest in the nation to date.

Here's a look at the schedule rankings:


Washington  1st   T-4th

Utah  2nd   10th

MIZZOU  3rd   7th

Iowa State  4th   2nd

Kansas  5th   26th

Kentucky  6th   3rd

Tennessee  7th   T-4th

Arizona  11th   1st

South Florida 25th   6th

According to the NCAA measurements, Mizzou's future opponents have a combined record of 16-17.

berkstresser beats arizona state in first career start

Redshirt freshman QB Corbin Berkstresser learned 30 minutes prior to kickoff on Sept. 15th against Arizona State that he'd be making his first collegiate start, and he helped lead Mizzou to a 24-20 win over a quality ASU team (currently 5-2).  Berkstresser filled in for ailing QB James Franklin (shoulder, scratched after pre-game warmups) and performed well, as he threw for 198 yards (on 21-of-41 passing with 1 interception), while also running for 1 TD and a net of 25 yards (18 carries).

Berkstresser helped the Tiger offense convert 10 3rd-downs (in 22 attempts) and directed the show for an offense which owned the ball for 34:51 of clock time in the game.  Berkstresser was at his best on 3rd down, as he completed 9-of-17 passes for 121 yards and no interceptions, with 8 of those going for first downs.

The next week at then-#7 South Carolina, Franklin was able to return to the starting lineup, but Berkstresser did see some action, as he came off the bench to lead Mizzou to its only TD drive of the game.  With the Tigers trailing, 31-3, Berkstresser guided Mizzou on an 11-play, 75-yard drive that ended with his 1-yard TD pass to WR Marcus Lucas with 0:17 seconds left to account for the final score of 31-10.  Berkstresser was 7-of-8 passing on the drive for 54 yards and he added 1 rush for 3 yards.

Berkstresser was thrown into relief mode again recently, as Franklin was knocked from the Vanderbilt game with a sprained left knee in MU's second series of the game.  Berkstresser had a rough start, as he misfired on his first five pass attempts, but he rebounded to lead the Tigers to a pair of 2nd-half scores – a field goal which tied the game at 9-9 in the 3rd quarter, and an 85-yard touchdown pass (the longest TD pass at Mizzou since 1976) to WR Bud Sasser early in the 4th quarter which pulled MU to within 16-15.

Berkstresser stood strong in the pocket in the face of constant pressure all night from the aggressive Vanderbilt defense.  His numbers weren't stellar, but he did drive the Tigers downfield one last time with the chance to produce the win, as he took the offense from the MU 28-yardline down to the Vanderbilt 24-yardline in the final moments before turning the ball over on downs.  He finished the game 9-of-30 passing for 189 yards and the 1 TD.

With Franklin ruled out for Alabama the next week, Berkstresser had the game to himself, and he had a tough time against 'Bama's stout defense, but he threw for 126 yards on 12-of-29 passing.  He was intercepted twice by the Tide, with one of the picks going off a receiver's hands and into a diving Alabama defender's arms.

franklin bounces back with solid outing in win at ucf

Junior QB James Franklin stepped up and accepted the blame following Mizzou's disappointing 31-10 loss at South Carolina on Sept. 22nd, as Franklin said that he wasn't himself and felt tentative facing Carolina's rugged defense.

He was determined to put that behind him and come out looking like the old James Franklin against Central Florida the next week, and he responded in fine fashion, as he had a season-best passing performance in Mizzou's 21-16 road win.

Franklin had a solid day as he completed 19-of-30 passes for 257 yards and 1 TD (with 1 INT), helping the cause at always-tough Central Florida.  His completion percentage of 63.3% was a season-best, as was his QB rating of 139.63.

Franklin's big play came on an 80-yard TD hookup with freshman WR Dorial Green-Beckham early in the 2nd quarter which gave Mizzou a 7-3 lead.  That represented a career-long pass for Franklin.

He was held to negative 18 yards rushing thanks to being sacked 5 times for 28 yards in all.  His non-sack rushing totals were 4 carries for 10 yards.

Franklin looked well on his way to following up that performance in big fashion last Saturday against Vanderbilt, as he took the Tiger offense down field on each of their first two possessions, driving 61 yards and 62 yards, respectively.  Both drives ended up stalling out, and the Tigers kicked a pair of short field goals for a quick 6-0 lead.  Unfortunately, Franklin sustained a sprained left knee when being tackled at the end of a 23-yard run which took the ball to the Vanderbilt 9-yardline on MU's second series.  He finished the drive, but was unable to play the rest of the night after being diagnosed with the sprain.  Franklin ended that brief appearance 5-of-9 passing for 56 yards, while he had the one carry for 23 yards.

He's missed Mizzou's Oct. 13 game against #1 Alabama, and his status beyond that will be further updated when available.

field position has been key indicator of success

It's certainly only one facet of the game, but it's been a very key factor in big games – field position.  There was a very distinct winner in the field position battle in Mizzou's games against Georgia, Arizona State, South Carolina and Alabama, and the team which won that battle went on to win the game.

Last time out, #1 Alabama – which doesn't exactly need much help – was buoyed by good starting position all game long.  Seven of 'Bama's possessions started at their own 45-yardline or better, and the Tide turned those opportunities into 35 of their 42 points.  Meanwhile, Mizzou had 3 drives start at their 45 or better, but the Tigers couldn't convert them into any points.

Each of #7 South Carolina's four TD drives on Sept. 22nd started at midfield or better, including at the Tiger 4, 37, 50 and 47 yardlines.  By contrast, Mizzou's first three drives of the game started at its own 14, 16 and 2 yardlines.  The Tiger offense struggled against the stout Carolina defense to flip the field, and while the first quarter ended up scoreless thanks to a some great defensive play by Mizzou, the dam broke in the second quarter, when SC's average starting point on four possessions was the Mizzou 39-yardline (while Mizzou's was its own 17).

In its previous outing, Mizzou won the field position battle against Arizona State, as it converted five drives which began at midfield or better into 21 points, while the Sun Devils had only two drives start at midfield or better (turning those into 7 points).

The previous week saw Georgia own the high land, as the Bulldogs scored 20 of their 41 points off of five possessions which started at midfield or better (including TD drives of only 5 yards and 1 yard in the 4th quarter after Tiger turnovers), while the Tigers had only two drives start at midfield or better, and they were able to convert those into just three points.

Here's a recap of the field position in the aforementioned games:

• – Sept. 8 vs. #7 Georgia  UGA  MU

# of drives started at 50 or better:     5      2

# of points those drives converted to:   20      3

Avg. starting point, 2nd half:  GA-48  MU-26

2nd half scoring:     32    10

• – Sept. 15 vs. Arizona State  ASU  MU

# of drives started at 50 or better:     2      5

# of points those drives converted to:     7    21

Avg. starting point, 1st half:  ASU-24  MU-45

1st half scoring:       7    17

• – Sept. 22 at #7 South Carolina  SC  MU

# of drives started at 50 or better:     5      0

# of points those drives converted to:   28      0

Avg. starting point, 2nd quarter: MU-39  MU-17

2nd quarter scoring:     21      3

• – Oct. 13 vs. #1 Alabama   UA  MU

# of drives started at own 45 or better:     7      3

# of points those drives converted to:   35      0

Avg. starting point, 1st quarter: UA-41  MU-19

1st quarter scoring:     21      0

tigers went toe-to-toe with #7 georgia; late mistakes prove costly

Sept. 8th was an historic occasion, as the Missouri Tigers played host to the 7th-ranked Georgia Bulldogs in what was Mizzou's first-ever SEC conference game.  A frenzied sellout crowd of 71,004 at Memorial Stadium/Faurot Field was on hand and provided an energy perhaps never seen in Columbia, and they were treated to a heck of a ballgame, despite the final score that read Georgia 41, Mizzou 20.

Don't let the score fool you, the outcome of the game was in doubt until a pair of MU turnovers in the final 7:33 of the game (both caused by UGA's star LB Jarvis Jones) gave Georgia the ball at the MU 1-yardline and the MU 5-yardline.  Those miscues turned into a pair of short TD runs for the 'Dawgs, and they stretched a tenuous 27-20 lead into the final margin.

Prior to that, the Tigers more than held their own, and appeared poised to make a big statement in their SEC debut.  Mizzou never trailed until the 0:51 mark of the third quarter, and had the ball three times in the 4th quarter while trailing by just one score.  After a scoreless opening period which saw both defenses clamp down, the Tigers drew first blood, converting a Donovan Bonner interception of Aaron Murray into a 38-yard Andrew Baggett field goal – his first career three-pointer – for a 3-0 lead at the 12:07 mark of the 2nd quarter.

Georgia wouldn't lead until only :51 seconds remained in the 3rd quarter, when Murray hit Marlon Brown for an 11-yard touchdown to make it 24-20 in favor of the 'Dawgs.

In between, the Tigers traded blows, landing two big ones by QB James Franklin.  The junior signal caller found WR Marcus Lucas over the middle for a 41-yard TD pass with 1:31 left in the 2nd quarter to put the Tigers up, 10-3.  Mizzou's defense, which held Georgia off repeatedly in the first half, finally buckled a bit, as the Bulldogs got a quick score right back.  Murray hit Marlon Brown on a 2-yard TD pass with just 0:30 seconds left in the 1st half to draw UGA to within 10-9.  That's the way the score stayed at half, however, as Bulldog kicker Marshall Morgan was wide right with the point after try (just five minutes after he drilled a 52-yard field goal).

Things got even better for the Tigers early in the 2nd half, as the defense forced a punt on Georgia's initial series, followed by another long strike by the offense.  Franklin floated a perfectly-placed ball down the left seam to lanky speedster WR L'Damian Washington, and Washington caught the ball in stride behind the defense and raced untouched 69 yards for a touchdown which gave Mizzou a 17-9 lead with 11:48 left in the 3rd.

With Memorial Stadium about to explode in excitement, the veteran Bulldogs responded once again, as they took their ensuing series for a 12-play, 75-yard drive which culminated in the 2nd of Murray's 3 passing touchdowns, this one a 7-yard strike to Tavarres King with 7:27 left in the 3rd.  A successful 2-point conversion tied the game.

Franklin led the Tigers right back downfield, reaching the Bulldog 7-yardline, before the drive stalled.  Baggett nailed a 25-yard field goal with 2:39 left in the 3rd quarter to give MU back the lead, at 20-17.  For the third time on the night, however, Georgia's offense answered a Tiger score, and this one – Murray-to-Brown for 11 yards – gave them their first lead, at 24-20.

Mizzou tried some trickery after its next series stalled, but P Trey Barrow was stopped for a 3-yard gain on a fake punt on a 4th-and-11 from the MU 35, and the Bulldogs converted that into a field goal and a 27-20 lead.

After the teams traded punts, the Tigers took over on their 12-yardline with 8:23 to play, just one more long strike away from tying the game.  But it wasn't to be, as Georgia's Jones picked off Franklin over the middle, returning the interception to the Tiger 1-yardline.  After Georgia punched it in for a score and a 34-20 lead, Jones sacked Franklin on MU's ensuing possession, jarring the ball loose, with the Bulldogs taking over on the Tiger 5-yardline.  Three plays later, another short Georgia TD run sealed the deal.

The Tiger mistakes late in the game overshadowed what was a gritty performance in their first-ever SEC contest.  After Mizzou took its last lead at 20-17 late in the third, Georgia rode its offense and defense to 24 unanswered points to leave Columbia with the victory.

mizzou holds off late sun devil rally

Mizzou improved to 2-1 on the season Sept. 15th, thanks to a 24-20 win over previously unbeaten Arizona State.  The Tigers got some late heroics from its defense, who twice turned ASU away in the final four minutes in the MU endzone while clinging to a 24-20 lead – one on a 4th-&-goal pass that was batted away with 3:36 left, and next on an interception in the endzone with :36 seconds left to preserve the win.  Both of those game-savers were made by senior SS Kenronte Walker.

In a continuing show of enthusiasm by Tiger fans for Mizzou's move to the Southeastern Conference, the ASU game was played before a second-straight sellout crowd of 71,004 – that marked the first sellout for a non-conference game at MU's Memorial Stadium/Faurot Field since 1984 (Notre Dame).

It appeared early on that Mizzou might enjoy a more comfortable win against the Sun Devils, as the Tigers scored twice in their first three possessions on the way to a quick 10-0 lead.  The edge grew to 17-0 late in the 2nd quarter before ASU got on the scoreboard with a TD just before half to cut into the Tiger lead.  Mizzou would go on to post a 24-7 lead, which held until the 4th quarter, when the Sun Devils mounted a rally.

The Tigers' win over ASU was even more impressive given the fact that they were playing without starting QB James Franklin, who was unable to play due to soreness in his right (throwing) shoulder.  Franklin sustained an inflamed bursa sac in his shoulder in the previous week's game against Georgia, and was a game-time decision against ASU.  After going through pre-game warmups, it was decided that he couldn't go, and that thrust redshirt freshman Corbin Berkstresser into his first collegiate start.

walker preserves ASU win with late heroics - wins sec defensive award

Senior SS Kenronte Walker cemented his name in the hearts of Tiger fans late in the Arizona State game, when he made two of the biggest defensive plays possible in MU's own endzone, on consecutive late-game possessions to preserve Mizzou's 24-20 win over previously unbeaten ASU.  His first big play came when he broke up a 4th-down pass in the endzone with 3:36 to play to deny the Sun Devils the lead after they drove to Tiger 1-yardline.  His deflection on 4th down in the endzone came on a 4th-and-goal from the MU 3-yardline.

Next, after Mizzou was forced to punt clinging to its 24-20 lead, the Sun Devils took over on the Tiger 21-yardline with just 1:58 to play.  On 3rd-and-9 from the MU 20-yardline, Walker broke to the right and snagged Taylor Kelly's pass in the MU endzone for his first career interception with :38 seconds left.  He returned the ball 49 yards before going out of bounds, and the Tigers ran out the clock on offense to lock up the victory.

Walker ended the night with 2 tackles, in addition to his endzone heroics, and on the following Monday morning, he was named the SEC Defensive Player of the Week for his efforts.  Through 6 games, Walker has 33 tackles, including a career-high 14-tackle outing last Saturday against Vanderbilt.  He ranks 5th on the Tiger squad currently in tackles, and he's only 11 stops behind his 2011 season total of 44 tackles in 13 games (4 starts) in his first year on the field for Mizzou.

With a tip of the proverbial cap to resident MU historian Tom Orf, Walker's game-clinching INT against ASU was the 7th time in the Pinkel era a Tiger has intercepted a pass to effectively end a game in the 4th quarter with MU holding a 7-point lead or less.