COLUMBIA — For Missouri fans, nothing says touchdown like the boom of a cannon in Memorial Stadium.
And with the Tigers' fierce scoring ability this season, the traditional post-touchdown cannon blast is increasingly common.
"We've used a lot of cannon rounds," said Master Sgt. Keith Glindermann, who serves as faculty adviser for the ROTC Cannon Crew.
The Tigers put some literal meaning behind the cliché, "explosive offense." In three home games, Missouri has needed the cannon 26 times after a score - only five of those have been field goals. The team has the top scoring offense in the Big 12 Conference and is second among all NCAA teams.
No one feels the impact of that statistic quite like the ROTC cadets who do pushups corresponding to Missouri's side of the scoreboard when the team puts up points.
"By the end of the game we are probably the only people in that stadium rooting for Mizzou to stop scoring," Lauritzen said.
To be ready for high scoring games, the ROTC usually brings 18 rounds of ammunition, Glindermann said. The cannon, a WWII era 75mm Pack Howitzer, fires a blank round of ammunition when the stadium gates open 90 minutes before the game, as the Tigers run onto the field before kickoff and after each touchdown and field goal, though not for conversions or safeties.
"When we got a safety on Buffalo, you heard students yelling for the cannon," Cannon Crew Captain Michael Lauritzen said. "But we don't have enough for safeties."
Glindermann said the ROTC has never run out of ammo during a game but did have to get more rounds from another school when the Tigers reached new scoring heights last season.
"Knowing that, this year we had to get more," Glindermann said, though he could not say how much ammunition the ROTC has stored.
The cannon tradition began in 1895 after Missouri beat Nebraska, according to MU's ROTC Web site. The practice waned after a few years, but was revived in 1927 until a group of students fired the cannon and damaged about 1,000 windows. Finally in 1954, Col. F. H. Skelly brought the tradition back to Missouri, and it has continued ever since.
"It's a chance to display our school spirit, just like with Big Mo and the Golden Girls," Glindermann said. "I'm not comparing the cannon to the Golden Girls, but it's something special."
Glindermann said fans often pump themselves up by taunting the Cannon Crew.
"We hear a lot of people saying, ‘You're going to run out of ammo,' or ‘You're going to do a lot of pushups," he said.
During games, 10 cadets rotate between cannon duty and pushup responsibilities. If they didn't, someone would have had to do a total of 418 pushups in the Tigers' 69-17 win over Nevada.
"I did 284 (total)," said Lauritzen, who does 150 pushups in an average workout. "I was in the last two sets, right after another. Oh, I was smoked."
According to Army.com, college-aged men must complete between 71 and 75 pushups in two minutes to receive a perfect score. For women, the number is between 42 and 46. Glindermann said the Army requires a very particular pushup.
"If you ever watch them out there, they have really good form," Glindermann said. "It's the Army standard."
Most of the time, mascot Truman the Tiger joins the cadets in the end zone for pushups, even if his are not of the same caliber as the cadets'.
"He can get away with it," Glindermann said. "But he's got a 30-pound head."
A fan since high school, Lauritzen said he is thrilled with Missouri's performance in recent seasons and hopes the high scoring continues - to a degree.
"Once we get to about 40," he said, "I'm good."