Preparations in full gear for the Missouri football home opener

Thursday, September 1, 2011 | 8:54 p.m. CDT; updated 2:00 a.m. CDT, Friday, September 2, 2011
In preparation for Saturday's game against the Miami Redhawks, Marching Mizzou rehearses "The Star-Spangled Banner" in the practice lot behind Hearnes Center on Thursday. The band has been preparing for the game since Aug. 14.

COLUMBIA — One state. One spirit. One Mizzou.

The mantra echoed from Memorial Stadium’s speakers as students walked to Mizzou Arena in the blazing heat.

Saturday's game

Miami (Ohio) 10-4, 7-1 MAC in 2010
at Missouri 10-3, 6-2 Big 12 in 2010

WHEN: 11 a.m.
Memorial Stadium
KTGR/1580 AM, 100.5 FM, KCMQ/96.7 FM
Fox Sports
Missouri coach Gary Pinkel went 3-3-1 in seven appearances against the Redhawks during his 10-year tenure as head coach at Toledo (1991-2000)

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Inside the arena, students and other fans stood in a line 60 deep to pick up their football tickets.

Robert Little of Columbia stood in line with his children, Connor, 5, and Meghan, 4. Little said he’d be happy with a 9-3 season.

“I’m excited for the future of Missouri athletics," he said. "We’ve come a long way in the last 15 years.”

Derek Besant, an MU junior, wasn't as optimistic.

“I don’t see anyone beating Oklahoma,” he said. “We’re going to be second or third in the conference. But every year’s different.”

Lizzie Nester, an MU freshman, was excited either way.

“All my siblings went here, so I’ve been here since I was five," she said. "I’m excited to finally get to sit in the student section.”

Meanwhile, Marching Mizzou practiced behind the Hearnes Center. Because of the excessive heat radiating off the blacktop, the musicians stripped down to shorts and tank tops.

“Please rehearse with purpose,” Marching Mizzou director Brad Snow called out while the band assumed halftime positions.

“We do what we have to if we want to be good,” said Erin Chucovich, an MU junior and alto saxophonist in Marching Mizzou.

Spirit stores' staff were also preparing for Saturday's game.

At Tiger Spirit on Ninth Street, black and gold T-shirts were unloaded from boxes and put on display to round out an inventory of black and gold apparel.

Co-owner Michelle Dillard said home football games are important to specialized clothing stores like hers.

“The six home games are our six busiest days,” she said.

The projected attendance for Saturday’s game is between 55,000 and 60,000 fans, Chad Moller, a spokesman for the Hearnes Center, said.

Ashley Pritchett, a sales associate at the Tiger Team Store in Memorial Stadium, said the store is usually packed shoulder to shoulder on game days. 

The MU Bookstore will remain open until 9 p.m. Friday because of the expected onslaught of shoppers. Employees will sell merchandise in tents outside, as well.

Student season tickets are sold out, but general admission tickets are still available for $23. Fans can purchase tickets starting at 8 a.m. Friday at the arena and at 7 a.m. Saturday at the arena and Faurot Field.

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