COLUMBIA — Before Saturday's game, the Missouri Athletic Department gave the press 3-D View-Master-like viewers customized for quarterback Chase Daniel's Heisman bid. Turns out Daniel looked even better without the slideshow toy.
Going 23-for-28 in the Tigers' 69-17 win over Nevada, Daniel overtook Brad Smith's career passing record in the first quarter with a pass to Jeremy Maclin for an 80-yard touchdown. Daniel found Maclin twice more for scores, including a picture-perfect 49-yard pass.
"It means a lot," Daniel said of setting the record at 9,153 over Smith's 8,799. "That's a big, big thing for me. I'm very honored to be able to do it. There's been a lot of very good quarterbacks that have played here."
Missouri dished out its third consecutive 50-plus-point game, scoring on 11 of 12 drives.
"We just go out and try to score every time," said Derrick Washington who had two touchdown runs in the game. "If that's going on, it's going to be hard to stop us."
Five different offensive players scored in the game.
"Chase (Daniel) will be the first one to tell you," Pinkel said, "when you've got an offensive line like we do - I think this might be the best offensive line since I've been here - and have people to distribute the ball to, he's got a lot of people out there who can make plays and turn seven-yard gains into 25- (or) 30-yard gains."
The Tiger defense, though not as dazzling as the offense, kept Nevada's No. 6 ranked offense scoreless in the second half. After two weeks, Missouri sat last in the Big 12 in total defense and 98th in the nation, but the Tigers allowed only 182 rushing yards to a Nevada team that had been averaging 325 a game.
Nevada employs a pistol formation, similar to the shotgun formation run by Missouri but with a shorter snap and a running back behind the quarterback instead of to the side. The scheme, developed by Nevada coach Chris Ault, facilitates the run, but to Missouri's benefit, the Wolf Pack was without one of its top rushers. Senior running back Luke Lippincott tore his ACL in last week's loss to Texas Tech.
The Tigers, who drew criticism for giving up 42 points to Illinois, forced Nevada to punt seven times. The Wolf Pack had similar trouble converting third downs last week, but unlike the Red Raiders, the Tigers kept Nevada mostly out of field goal range.
"It is hard when there is pressure to keep the opponent's offense of the field," Ault said. "In the first half he (quarterback Chris Kaepernick) played fairly well, and in the second half he was able to move the ball, but we just couldn't score, and you have to score."
Missouri, on the other hand, could not keep from scoring. Secondary quarterback Chase Patton had a 3-yard run into the end zone, despite Pinkel's best efforts to tell him to fall at the one. Then in the fourth quarter, linebacker Jeff Gettys snagged the game's lone interception and ran it 27 yards for a touchdown.
"I just don't like getting that many points," Pinkel said. "This isn't about humiliating people."
Though a crowd-pleasing fake field goal attempt in the third quarter raised questions about that strategy. After missing a catch on third down, Chase Coffman, who wore No. 25 this week in honor of former player Aaron O'Neal, took a 32-yard pass from wide receiver Tommy Saunders for the score.
"Whatever coaches call, we're going to execute," Saunders said.
And execute he did. Daniel joked that Saunders, who has completed passes in trick play situations before, is "the most efficient passer in the history of football."
As he did last week against Southeast Missouri State, Daniel came out of the game early, giving Patton and freshman Blaine Gabbert a chance in the pocket. Patton went 2-for-4, and Gabbert completed 1-of-3, though he more often handed off the ball.
"I'd like to play a little more than a half each game," Daniel said. "But we realize that Chase Patton and Blaine Gabbert are excellent quarterbacks and they need to work and it's going good."
Maclin, normally explosive on punt and kick returns, did not get much of a chance to show off on special teams this week. But after three touchdowns and 172 yards receiving, Maclin found himself deflecting questions about his own Heisman potential.
"I'm just doing everything I can to get Chase (Daniel) to New York (and the Heisman finals)," he said.