COLUMBIA - If Missouri tight end Chase Coffman's season wasn't already special enough before Saturday night, he gave the nation another reason to remember his name.
Coffman broke the NCAA record for career receptions by a Football Bowl Subdivision tight end during Missouri's 58-0 victory over Colorado at Memorial Stadium. Coffman finished the game with 220 catches, surpassing former Louisville tight end Ibn Green, who had 217 receptions from 1996 to 1999.
"It means a lot," Coffman said of breaking the record. "It's pretty neat to go out there and do that. I've had a great team around me to open things up so I can make those plays."
Coffman broke the record during Missouri's second drive of the second quarter. At the Colorado 43, Daniel found Coffman for a 4-yard gain in the right flat. Coffman entered with 56 catches this season, second best in the nation behind Rice's James Casey (61). Coffman had seven catches for 50 yards in the game.
Colorado could not stop him. Coffman's 6-foot-6 build slipped through gaping seams in Colorado's secondary. When defenders managed to surround him, he dazzled spectators with his athleticism. The Buffaloes' defense was left searching for answers that never came.
Coffman's first-half touchdown was his signature moment. Early in the first quarter, Missouri faced third-and-goal at the Colorado 1. Quarterback Chase Daniel received the snap and bulled forward as if he were going to drive past the goal line himself.
But Daniel paused. He floated a pass toward the back of the end zone. Coffman positioned himself within range. At first, it looked as if Coffman had no chance. Daniel's pass seemed to sail too high.
Then Coffman extended his right arm. He tucked the football into his stiff torso. A loud "Ohhh!" lifted from the crowd. Officials gathered in a corner, not sure if such a catch could have actually happened. Then one official lifted his arms to signal a touchdown. Coffman had done it again. He managed to tap-dance around another opposing defense.
"That guy is unbelievable," Missouri coach Gary Pinkel said. "Talk about missing a player (next year).
"What a remarkable play. What a remarkable play."
Afterward, Daniel said Missouri had been working on the play for about six weeks. The sequence resembled similar touchdown passes to former tight end Martin Rucker last year in victories over Kansas State and Kansas.
"I think the coaches were actually trying to call timeout, because the defense wasn't the way they liked," Coffman said. "Chase made a great pass in there, and I focused on getting it in.
"Every time the ball is thrown my way, I'm expecting to make the catch. Even if it's a tough catch like that, I expect to make those catches."
Said wide receiver Jeremy Maclin: "He's the best tight end in the nation. He does amazing stuff with the ball, catching the ball, jumping over people. For a guy to be that size and to be as athletic as he is, it's a once-in-a-lifetime type of thing."
Coffman's record-setting night continued a productive stretch over the past month. He caught a career-high 11 catches for 104 yards against Oklahoma State. A week later against Texas, he set a new career mark with 12 catches for 140 yards. Coffman's previous season high had been 10 receptions in a victory over Buffalo.
For the second consecutive year, Coffman caused matchup problems for undersized Colorado defenders. Last year, he had three touchdown receptions in Boulder. The highlight was a 23-yard catch in the third quarter during which made the Buffaloes' blundering defense look as silly as a circus sideshow. Coffman caught a pass from Daniel at the Colorado 11. Then he hurdled over safety Ryan Walters at the 5 and crashed into the end zone past two defenders. Colorado fans could not believe their eyes.
Much like many of the 68,349 in attendance Saturday at Memorial Stadium.
"What can you say?" Daniel said. "The national record has never been done before with that many catches, and we still have five or six games left to play. He's going to crush that record. I can guarantee you that."