Game Stats: Missouri 36, Oklahoma 27
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COLUMBIA, Mo. — Remember the date: Oct. 23, 2010. It’s when Big 12 football spun off its axis.
Iowa State, which had never defeated Texas and had lost its previous two games by a combined 93 points, went to Austin and never trailed in a 28-21 win over the 23-point favorite Longhorns.
Baylor, which hasn’t played in a bowl since 1994, reached the six wins necessary to earn a postseason bid by edging Kansas State 47-42. And the Bears still have four games left.
Nebraska, which the previous week couldn’t score an offensive touchdown, posted 51 points yet gave up 41 in its arena-ball win over Oklahoma State.
Then, after all of that earth-shaking weirdness, came the biggest shock of all.
Missouri won a big game. I repeat: Missouri won a BIG GAME.
Without much argument, you could call the Tigers’ 36-27 decision over BCS No. 1 Oklahoma the biggest home victory ever — and maybe the biggest of any kind.
This won’t count as an official win over a No. 1 team since the NCAA recognizes only wire service polls. But those in the sellout crowd of 71,004 who stormed Faurot Field weren’t sweating such details.
Rub your eyes and realize that the Missouri team that comes to Nebraska this week is the only undefeated team left in the Big 12, at 7-0 and 3-0.
And with what the Tigers showed in toppling OU, it’s hardly a stretch to name them the new Big 12 title favorite.
The performance was far from perfect. But this Missouri team has the best balance of offense, defense and special teams in Gary Pinkel’s 10 seasons, plus some heretofore unseen moxie and grit.
“How bout my Tigers, huh?’’ Pinkel said. “It was a total team victory.’’
Bob Stoops’ Oklahoma teams have made a living out of slapping down pretenders in situations like this the past decade.
But Missouri was GameDay ready, showing off for ESPN viewers Saturday morning and ABC watchers at night.
Gahn McGaffie returned the opening kickoff 86 yards for a touchdown. The Tigers led 17-14 at halftime, the first time the Sooners had trailed at any quarter break this season.
Then after Oklahoma took its only lead at 21-20 late in the third quarter, Missouri owned the fourth quarter with championship play from its quarterback and defense.
The Tigers scored 16 consecutive points in the final quarter. They held OU to 14 yards in the final 15 minutes. And MU’s Blaine Gabbert won the quarterback battle.
He completed 8 of 9 passes for 95 yards and a touchdown in the fourth quarter. The Sooners’ Landry Jones was 0 for 7 in the fourth quarter with an interception.
Gabbert finished 30 of 42 for 308 yards and didn’t take a sack. The doubts that lingered about his pocket presence and skittishness as recently as two weeks ago are gone now. His crafty faking in the backfield also helped Missouri rush for 178 yards.
“We’re fighters,’’ Gabbert said. “Not a lot of people gave us respect before this game, so we had to come out and take it.’’
Defensively, Missouri sparkled in the red zone.
OU got inside the Tiger 20 five times in the first three quarters. The results: An interception at the 12, a fumble recovery at the 14, a touchdown, a missed 30-yard field goal, a touchdown.
Pinkel, previously 0-6 against Oklahoma, is glad that his battle for respect among the Big 12’s bigger names has changed.
“If you want to notch your program up respect-wise, you’ve got to win games like this,’’ he said. “We’ve fallen short a number of times, and it gets very frustrating. But I’m a competitor, and I’m a fighter.’’
Now, Missouri looks more than ready to carry that fight to Lincoln.
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• Video: NU's Taylor Martinez after the NU-OSU game:
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