Someone should coin the term “Pinkelball.” You take a talented team, give it a big lead, and watch it implode when things get tough. Pinkelball doesn’t care much for punt protection. On the team’s first series, a punt was blocked and recovered for a touchdown. In the middle of the second quarter, Missouri dominated the offensive stats, yet held a 7-6 lead as Illinois was about to take the lead. When starting QB “Juice” Williams left the game after a nasty head-to-head collision, backup Eddie McGee, a redshirt freshman seeing his first collegiate action, took off was a yard from scoring a TD when he fumbled. Proving that Missouri can one-up any opponent when it comes to nicknames, safety Pig Brown took the fumble and went 100 yards for the score. Only Pinkel could mess up a momentum-swinger like this. He went for two with Missouri up 7. This is a strategic move that I’ve tried many times in Playstation football. If you’re up by seven and get the two-point conversion, the other team needs two scores to take the lead. In the fourth quarter, it’s a solid move. In the second quarter, it’s just dumb. Just look at Michigan, who went for two twice, didn’t make it either time, then ended up losing to Appy State by two.
Chase Daniel looked solid through the entire game; although I have to say it’s hard to tell whether he’s that good when Pinkelball has him throwing three-yard passes every down. After a great punt-return TD by redshirt freshman Jeremy Maclin, a 37-13 lead in the third quarter had me thinking about going to the gym. That’s when Pinkelball went to the next level. Illinois drove the ball down the field and scored a touchdown. Tony Temple couldn’t hand the ball off properly to Danario Alexander, who fumbled. McGee threw a go route for an instant touchdown. Daniel got crushed on the ensuing third down. It looked like his arm was going forward, but it was called a fumble anyway. The Illini cashed in, and suddenly it was 37-34.
With a six-point lead, Missouri got the ball in field-goal range, but it would have been boring and unpredictable to make it and put the game out of reach. McGee led his team to the Missouri 22-yard-line with less than a minute to go. On the next play he threw an interception, his fourth turnover of the game. A touchdown would have resulted in a 41-40 win, and a lot of Missouri fans would have wondered why a coach who hasn’t finished above .500 in Big 12 play got an extension last year.
In any case, a win’s a win, and in theory next weekend’s class at Mississippi would be much easier. My new-look college fantasy team scored a team-high 208 points this week.
The Jaguars’ last-minute release of Byron Leftwich gives me more hope that the Titans can win next Sunday’s opener. In two games against the Jags last year, Vince threw for 249 yards and three interceptions. I’m starting him in one league and somewhat thinking that I could get the number one waiver pick the following week. I suppose that could be a good thing in the long run.