COLUMBIA — It wasn’t the first time that one team in the Missouri-Texas matchup has looked terribly overmatched.
It’s just the first time Texas has been the team that looked like it didn’t belong.
In what is likely to be the last time the two schools meet for the foreseeable future, Gary Pinkel got his first win over Texas, and Missouri got its first win over Texas since 1997 with a 17-5 victory in front of 61, 323.
“Especially going to the SEC and maybe not playing Texas for a while, going out with a win is always good,” cornerback E.J. Gaines said. “It means a lot knowing that we might not play them for a while.”
While the win was impressive, even the most causal of observers could tell this Texas team didn’t have much in common with the teams that beat Missouri in 2008 and 2009 by a combined score of 97-38.
Still, beating Texas is always a treat for both Missouri players and fans.
For Pinkel, he can leave the Big 12 knowing he has defeated each of its members at least once.
“We talked a lot about Texas, how this was the last time playing Texas. We hadn’t beat Texas for a long time. Coach Pinkel said it was a big steppingstone for us to get the job done,” defensive end Brad Madison said.
As far as the fans go, the loud cheer as the clock hit zero said it all.
“I could hear how crazy everybody was going,” quarterback James Franklin said. “All I heard was a loud scream, just like we had made a big play and ran it back for a touchdown.”
Texas held a 3-0 lead early, but any semblance of control in the game slipped away from Texas in the second quarter. Trailing 7-3, the Longhorns looked to have a Missouri drive stopped when safety Kenny Vaccaro wrapped tailback De’Vion Moore up in the backfield for a three-yard loss. But Vaccaro was flagged for a 15-yard penalty for a helmet-to-helmet hit, which kept the drive alive.
Seconds later, tailback Kendial Lawrence was dancing in the end zone after a 35-yard run on the very next play.
That gave Missouri a 14-3 lead. The Tigers never looked back.
“It was a momentum shift,” Vaccaro said. “You think you have a third down stop, and then a big penalty like that kind of brings you down.”
The call came on what looked like a clean hit, and it sent normally calm Texas head coach Mack Brown into a frenzy on the sideline.
“I can’t comment on officiating,” Brown said after the game. “It was really deflating.”
On defense, through a combination of good pressure from its front seven and Texas’ offensive ineptitude, Missouri held the Longhorns to their lowest point total since Oct. 9, 2004, when they were shut out by Oklahoma.
Pass after pass from quarterbacks David Ash and Case McCoy were consistently over the heads of their intended receivers and fell harmlessly to the turf.
At running back, the Longhorns had to make do without their top three players on the depth chart because of injury. D.J. Monroe, a fourth stringer, and Jeremy Hills, who wasn’t even on the depth chart, shared the duty of running straight into a Missouri defensive front that held Texas to a paltry 2.6 yards per carry and 76 total yards on the ground.
“We gave up 700 yards last week. Nobody really gave us a chance to say we were going to hold them to 70 yards after they rushed for 400 (last week),” defensive tackle Sheldon Richardson said.
Richardson, who told reporters earlier in the week that “I hate Texas,” was part of a Missouri defensive line that was in Texas’ backfield seemingly at will.
A week after allowing 697 yards to Baylor, the Missouri defense limited Texas to 247 this week, the lowest total of the year for the Longhorns.
The only negative in the game for Missouri was the loss of star running back Henry Josey, who went down with a left knee injury in the third quarter. Josey underwent an MRI after the game, but the results were not immediately available.
Pinkel did say, though, that he “felt it was serious.”
Despite Josey's injury, the outlook remains positive for the Tigers. Kendial Lawrence stepped in and gained 106 yards for Missouri, and the Tigers’ two remaining games are against Texas Tech and Kansas, the two worst rushing defenses in the Big 12.
“We’re going to play well next week,” Pinkel said. “There’s so much out there now. This really shines light here, and it’s my job as the head coach to make sure we take advantage of this.”