Missouri Outlasts Texas A&M
COLUMBIA, Mo. - Texas A&M tested Missouri. But the Tigers and their offense were too strong in the fourth quarter for the Aggies, outlasting A&M 40-26 for a historic victory.
It was a simple scenario: Missouri (9-1, 5-1 Big 12) finished its two drives with touchdowns in the fourth quarter. Texas A&M (6-5, 3-4) controlled the ball for a stretch in the second half, but got only three points.
The Aggies were finished after missing a key field goal. Early in the fourth quarter, the Tigers took over when A&M kicker Matt Szymanski missed a 36-yard field goal wide right. After the Aggies held the ball for more than five minutes, MU quarterback Chase Daniel didn't panic. He gathered his players in the huddle. They were up only five points - 24-19. After securing many of their prior victories by halftime, they were forced to make plays in the fourth quarter.
"This is what drives are about. This is what champions are made of. If we want a shot at anything, we gotta go down and score," he told his teammates.
They did. And after the Aggies answered to cut the lead back to five, Daniel marched the team down for another 80-yard touchdown drive with 3:41 remaining in the game. Then, on the ensuing drive, A&M quarterback Stephen McGee was sacked in the end zone for a safety.
The victory marked a milestone for MU. For the first time since man first walked on the moon (1969), the Tigers have nine victories. They were Big Eight co-conference champions that year, which is the last time they won a conference title. With a matchup against Kansas looming in two weeks, they have a chance to play for the Big 12 North title and possibly a berth in a BCS bowl game. With Daniel, the Tigers also have a viable Heisman Trophy candidate.
Daniel, who was 27-of-35 for 352 yards and three touchdowns, is not focused on a possible trip to New York. "That's so far away," he said.
Kansas is his focus. Before starting to prepare for Kansas State, he will allow himself some time to watch his team's chief rival play at Oklahoma State tonight. "I'm gonna watch them," Daniel said.
While the Tigers are soaring, the Aggies are sputtering, losing their fourth game in five weeks. Their performance against MU illustrates how the teams' fortunes have evolved in the past year. A&M coach Dennis Franchione said he had prepared a similar game plan to last year's 25-19 victory in College Station. "They were just a lot better on offense this year, I think," he said. The numbers tell the story. The Aggies gave up 380 yards last year, but 555 this year.
A&M will try to salvage its season by beating rival Texas in two weeks and knocking out the Longhorns from any BCS bowl consideration.
Player of the game: Missouri wide receiver Jeremy Maclin. The redshirt freshman had five receptions for 146 yards and two touchdowns and rushed four times for 32 yards. He bruised his left shoulder and left the game, but the injury wasn't serious, MU coach Gary Pinkel said.
Maclin caught the clinching touchdown, but his most impressive play came toward the end of the first half. Daniel threw a simple 10-yard pass, and with a block from receiver Will Franklin, he showed off his 4.3-speed by sprinting down the sideline for an 82-yard score. He split credit with Franklin. "Half of my touchdown goes to him. I did the easy part. He did the hard part," Maclin said.
Play of the game: Missouri defensive tackle Lorenzo Williams' sack and safety ended any chance A&M had of catching up with the Tigers. MU led 40-26 after the 10-yard loss and safety.
Next up: Texas A&M will have next weekend off to prepare for Texas at 3:30 p.m. EST on Friday, Nov. 23, in College Station. Missouri travels to Kansas State next Saturday. The game will start at 12:30 p.m. EST.