COLLEGE STATION, TEXAS — The Tigers rolled to a 30-9 win in front of what is normally the most intimidating crowd in the Big 12 Conference. But Saturday, the Texas A&M crowd was stunned and silenced by a Missouri team with something to prove.
Missouri wide receiver Jerrell Jackson had something to prove. Jackson said early this week that he planned on "shutting (the Texas A&M crowd) up, quick." The quote made Jackson public enemy No. 1 in Aggieland, the subject of message board rants and a jeer at Texas A&M's midnight yell practice.
Jackson, fueled by the backlash, had four catches for 55 yards, highlighted by a 28-yard catch-and-run kept alive by two spin moves.
"That's the key to it, come out here and shut the crowd up," Jackson said. "I'd never say it's easy, but one time I did say a few things to the players that they weren't too good."
"It was fun. I wish the crowd had gotten a little louder," Jackson continued. "It got quiet. I wanted to hear the 12th Man, but it wasn't there today."
Defensive coordinator Dave Steckel and the Missouri defense had something to prove. The Tigers' defense was the Achilles' heel of the 2009 team, and after a strong start to 2010, they still felt it was being doubted.
The Missouri defense held Texas A&M scoreless for the first 42 minutes of the game, thanks largely to the defensive secondary, the easiest target fordoubters of the defense.
"Our corners are pretty good. I think the good Lord blessed them for all the heat they've gotten," Steckel said. "They were just young, and people weren't kind to them. But they have to keep working."
Missouri quarterback Blaine Gabbert also had something to prove. People doubted his ability to play through his hip injury.
The hip pointer was a nonfactor — Gabbert threw three touchdowns and improved his record in games away from Faurot Field to 7-2.
The star quarterback of an undefeated team received nothing but praise after the game, but Gabbert was still playing the role of Rodney Dangerfield, claiming to get no respect.
"It was our chance (to prove the doubters wrong). We were an underdog coming into this game, I believe a three-point underdog," Gabbert said. "It's us against the world, we have to go out there and execute every week because apparently we're not getting any credit thus far."
With the Oklahoma Sooners, ranked No. 6 this week, coming to Columbia to face the Tigers next Saturday, Gabbert's schtick will continue.
Gabbert is so focused on proving the Missouri doubters wrong he's taking little time to savor what should have been a sweet victory for Missouri.
"(Preparation for Oklahoma starts) on the way back. On the way back on the plane, we have to start thinking about Oklahoma because they are a great football team," Gabbert said. "Just watch game film, we have it on our cell phones, we have to get an extra edge on those guys."