On the morning of Oct. 11, 2008, all was right in the world of Tiger football.
Missouri was ranked No. 3 in the country after winning its first five games behind the offensive exploits of Chase Daniel and Jeremy Maclin. That night featured a tough test against No. 17 Oklahoma State, but the Tigers were flying high. If they kept winning games, they would be in a prime position for a trip to their first BCS bowl game.
By the end of the evening, Missouri’s season had been dramatically altered. Just halfway through the season, one postseason possibility was virtually eliminated.
In few other sports besides college football can one loss be the difference between a season of unprecedented success and a season of continued mediocrity.
The Tigers, who entered that game against the Cowboys as one of the nation’s best teams, then lost two consecutive games to Oklahoma State and Texas and fell from hopes of a BCS bowl game to an appearance in the Alamo Bowl.
Another loss to the Cowboys followed in 2009, when Blaine Gabbert and another eye-popping Missouri offense saw the season expectations take a hit.
Saturday, Missouri has an opportunity to return the favor, when the roles will be reversed.
Oklahoma State comes to Columbia as the No. 4 team in the BCS standings. The team has defeated its first six opponents, and it has done so in impressive fashion. The Cowboys boast a high-powered offense that has led to an average of more than 49 points per game.
Like Missouri this week, those Oklahoma State teams were going up against prolific offenses. In the 2008 meeting, Daniel threw for almost 400 yards, but it was the Missouri quarterback’s three second-half interceptions that cost the Tigers and led to a 28-23 defeat.
Some of the seniors who were on the sidelines for the losses to Oklahoma State said this game isn’t about getting revenge. But, when an undefeated, highly-ranked team comes to town, it was hard for some to deliver the standard response.
"The last time I played Oklahoma State, I didn’t like it at all," defensive lineman Dominqiue Hamilton said. "I was mad after the game. I really wanted to beat them, so I’m going out there with a little added, a little extra. … I guess you could say going out there trying to get them and defeat them."
On Saturday, the Tigers are simply looking for another win. That’s what they said. But, as the weeks without a loss pile up for Oklahoma State, each game becomes bigger and bigger. With a win Saturday, the Tigers could deal a severe blow to the Cowboys’ postseason dreams, much like Oklahoma State did to Missouri in 2008.
Although all might be right in the world of Oklahoma State right now, that situation can change in a hurry. A slow start to the season has Missouri gunning for an upset, similar to the ones it’s experienced in the past.
"It's a big opportunity to knock off a top 10 team," wide receiver Jerrell Jackson said. "That’s something that we need right now. Now that we’re kind of in the hole, we need to slingshot our way back up. It’s a big opportunity to knock off a ranked team."