Farewell to an impostor
The 2008 Missouri Tigers are in our rear-view mirror, and who will remember them fondly? The club is small.
Mizzou beat Northwestern 30-23 in overtime Monday night in the Alamo Bowl, and it wasn’t a pretty sight. With the reputation of the Big 12 on the line, Mizzou bumbled all night and flirted with defeat before a late rally.
It’s time to admit that Missouri ’08 was nothing special. It was not a talented that just caught up in the Big 12 South whirlwind, losing to Texas, OU and OSU.
Missouri was the best, by a fraction, of a mediocre lot in the Big 12 North.
OSU’s road win at top-five Mizzou in October? Still a solid victory, but not as epic as we thought at the time. OU’s defensive shutdown of the Tigers in the Big 12 title game? Nice, but nothing special, since Northwestern did largely the same thing.
Truth is, when you go to figuring out how the Big 12 will fare in the rest of its bowls, starting with OSU tonight against Oregon and continuing with the Sooners in the Big Bowl against Florida, I wouldn’t put much stock in those victories over Missouri.
Chase Daniel threw three interceptions, and it’s time to say it clearly. Daniel is no better than sixth in the Big 12 quarterback pecking order. Maybe as low as eighth, if you want to bring Baylor’s Robert Griffin and K-State’s Josh Freeman into the discussion. And I haven’t even considered Nebraska’s Joe Ganz.
Either way, that’s a mighty fall for a guy who was a Heisman Trophy finalist last year. I don’t know; maybe Daniel is hurt. The Missouri offense looked short-handed. Lots of horizontal passing; lots of 25-yard passes that could pick up only 6-7 yards.
Even usually-stout Missouri coach Gary Pinkel was off his game. In a 23-23 tie, Mizzou crossed midfield in the final minute, and from just inside the Northwestern 30-yard line, Pinkel started playing for a field goal.
If you have a 44-yard field goal for victory, and you’ve got 30 seconds and a timeout or two to play with, you try to turn that 44-yarder into a 33-yarder. Sure enough, Missouri’s excellent kicker, Jeff Wolfert, missed, the ball barely floating right of the goal post. Put that kick five yards closer, and it’s in.
Anyway, good for Missouri. A loss would have embarrassed the Big 12. Northwestern is a nice, scrappy team that finished 9-4, but the Wildcats lost to Indiana. The Big Ten was awful this season, yet Missouri didn’t put away a middle-of-the-road Big Ten team until overtime.
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