Missouri fans won’t have to worry about making plane reservations for Miami in early January. They also won’t have to worry about Chase Daniel winning the Heisman. Last night’s loss took care of both worries.
It’s true that last year’s team was ranked number one after a loss. This was a loss to Oklahoma. Oklahoma State is a good team, and perhaps a very good team. We’re talking Holiday Bowl, or maybe Cotton. They have exceeded the usual expectations of the Champs Sports or Independence Bowl, which is what fourth place in the Big 12 South usually gets you.
When you don’t play your A game, you have to find a way to win. I won’t be the typical fan and play the woulda shoulda coulda game. The offense moved but was unable to get the big play. There weren’t a lot of deep throws in the game. The defense played well other than giving up three big plays in the second half. There were timely turnovers and untimely letting slot receivers go downfield without a defender. When Zac Robinson hit the third down pass to take the 28-17 lead, two receivers were in the same spot and the nearest defender wasn’t in a good position. Jeff Wolfert, who hadn’t missed a Big 12 kick, now has missed three in two weeks. When the team was down in the second half, the running game went bye-bye, not that it worked.
I will bring up a point that has been belabored in this blog. Oklahoma State runs the spread, but the quarterback does occasionally take a snap from center. A couple of times last night, Robinson ran a QB sneak for a first down. Missouri needs to implement this. The spread’s Achilles heel is in short space near the goal line. When Missouri got inside the one-yard-line, then Oklahoma State got a penalty for being offsides, and the Tigers still couldn’t punch the ball in, that was a bad sign. Yet they kicked a field goal as if there would be plenty of points to go around. You can’t score 56 points a game. It’s, as Ralph Wiggum would say, unpossible.
I wonder if Missouri can maintain their top-ten status next year with Daniel, William Moore, and Chase Coffman moving on to the pros. While it’s tough to recruit in a state that has maybe a dozen quality high schoolers, Nebraska was able to be a top-ten team for 30 years even further in the middle of nowhere. Oklahoma has to dig deep into Texas to maintain their strength. I don’t know. All I know is next week is a crucial game for the Tigers. A loss will make it hard for them to win the Big 12 North. A 9-3 season, generally good for Missouri but a colossal disappointment this year, would be a likely finish. A win would mean a trip back into the top ten, and maybe the national sportswriters would forget this hiccup.
Florida had their Mississippi, Georgia had their Alabama, and USC had their Oregon State. Missouri’s loss either means business as usual or a wake-up call in what still could be a memorable season.