Oct. 8, 1992: the first night football game at MU

Thursday, October 8, 2009 | 12:01 a.m. CDT; updated 12:10 p.m. CDT, Thursday, October 8, 2009
Newspaper clippings from October 1992 mark the last time the University of Missouri played a midweek football game.

COLUMBIA — The last time Missouri played a midweek football game, it was another Thursday, another Oct. 8 and another fifth game of the season played before ESPN cameras. The date is probably the only coincidence here — midweek games are typically played on Thursdays and covered by ESPN.

Back in 1992, the 7 p.m. game was the first night game ever played at Memorial Stadium. It was also historic because MU students who showed their student IDs received free admission.

News reports in the Columbia Missourian and the Columbia Daily Tribune at the time give the following account:

  • The weather that night was 45 degrees with a 20-degree wind chill, but it did not deter fans of the Tigers or the Colorado Buffaloes eager to experience a unique game. Almost 5,800 students were admitted free of charge, which was more than the 4,500 to 5,000 stadium ticket manager George Hough expected.
  • An estimated 38,000 people attended the game. Those students with season tickets already purchased were eligible for prize drawings conducted during the game. Fireworks went off at halftime.
  • Because this was the first night game, lights had not yet been installed. ESPN and a company called Musco worked to illuminate Faurot Field using four light trucks.
  • The Tigers lost 6-0 to the ninth-ranked Buffaloes. Before the game, Missouri had a 1-3 record and Colorado was 4-0. It marked Missouri’s lowest scoring game since 1981. Colorado won the Big Eight Conference that year and was voted co-national champion with Georgia Tech.

The 1992 game was highly anticipated because MU and Colorado had an infamous 1990 game in which the Buffaloes won in an accidental fifth down. Colorado won 33-31.

J.C. Louderback headed the officiating crew that accidentally allowed an extra down. Louderback was confused by “a then-new conference rule that permitted spiking the football to stop the clock” in which “Colorado spiked the ball twice during the five-down sequence,” the Missourian reported.

A fifth down occurred in 1940 when Cornell defeated Dartmouth, but Cornell forfeited the game because of it.

This year, parking has been a issue; it was a problem, but less so, in 1992. Some university employees who parked near University Hospital had to move their cars. Shuttle buses did not operate for the game because buses were running on their weekday routes.

Colorado’s coach was Bill McCartney, an MU graduate. He was pitted against his former coach, Dan Devine, who was Missouri’s athletics director in 1992. McCartney made a controversial statement after his team’s 1990 win by saying the Missouri field was “unplayable,” according to the Missourian.  He said of the Omniturf, “No one should have to come in here and play on that surface.” McCartney apologized for his remarks in 1992, saying he regretted them.


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