COLUMBIA - A new team of Tigers is ranked No. 5 this week.
The Missouri Tigers lost their top-five ranking in the Associated Press Poll on Sunday, swapping spots with the LSU Tigers who were No. 6. After Missouri's least refined win of the season, the team dropped in the AP poll but kept the No. 5 spot in the USA Today Coaches Poll.
Despite career-best days for Chase Daniel, Jeremy Maclin and Sean Weatherspoon in the 42-21 win over Buffalo, the Tigers did not make the same strong impression they had in past weeks. Missouri turned over the ball three times on fumbles and allowed Buffalo a 97-yard kickoff return in a game many thought would include playing time for the Tigers' reserve quarterbacks.
"You look at the statistics and you'd think it was a dominating game, but it wasn't a dominating game," Missouri coach Gary Pinkel said.
Buffalo came within six points of the Tigers halfway through the third quarter after Maclin fumbled and the Bulls took the ball and drove for a touchdown. Although Missouri rallied, the game was the first this season that did not pass the 50-point mark.
"It was sloppy," Tigers linebacker Brock Christopher said. "Whether it be the turnovers on offense, or whether it be us (defense) not getting enough turnovers, or whether it be giving up the big pass plays again, we've got to get it cleaned up."
Missouri has a week off before its first conference game against Nebraska. The Oct. 4 game in Lincoln, Neb., will be the Tigers' first test in enemy territory. Players said the game against Buffalo was important for pointing out areas that need improvement before starting play in the Big 12 Conference.
"We're happy for the victory, but turnovers and mental errors just killed us (Saturday) and that's something that we need to get fixed," tight end Chase Coffman said. "It might even have been a good thing for this game to be close like that, but we've just got to keep working to get better."
Pinkel said his team has meetings and walkthroughs early this week and will practice Saturday morning and Sunday afternoon.
"You learn from your mistakes and you learn from adversity," Pinkel said. "Things aren't always going to go well for whatever reason, but you've got to find a way to win and battle back. All of those things can turn into positives later on."
As for the polls, Pinkel and players have repeatedly said they try not to let the rankings change their approach to the game. The change in the AP ranking came after LSU's last-minute victory over Auburn, who had been No. 10 going into the game. Missouri's opponent was an unranked Mid-American Conference team already with one loss.
No. 1 Southern California and No. 2 Oklahoma both had bye weeks and held their positions in the polls, while Georgia and Florida's wins kept them in the third and fourth spots, respectively.
Other Big 12 teams in the polls are No. 7 Texas, No. 9 (No. 10 AP) Texas Tech and No. 18 Kansas.
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