Running free on Faurot Field, with the No. 114 defense in the nation knocking heels to hamstrings trying to catch up, Missouri quarterback Brad Smith made it look so easy.
Quarterback draws to the left, to the right, through the middle. Two sets of three-fake jukes in one play. Wobbling and teetering down the sidelines, but keeping his balance.
“The guy’s blessed with a lot of talent, and he’s taking full advantage of it right now,” senior wide receiver Darius Outlaw said.
Smith dashed and danced past Texas Tech and into the Tigers’ end zone for five touchdowns, a school record. Smith’s 291 rushing yards set a Big 12 Conference record for quarterbacks, and his 15.3 yards per carry was also a Big 12 record. Guess which record Smith brings up?
“I’m glad we won,” Smith said.
Smith turned the talk away from Red Raider quarterback B.J. Symons’ Heisman Trophy possibilities, to what will Smith do next?
Late in the second quarter with the ball at the Texas Tech 27, for example, Smith took off down the left sideline. After about 10 yards of sidestepping defenders, it looked as if he was going to fall out of bounds. He cut back right, though, and ran into the end zone untouched.
Missouri coach Gary Pinkel said he was particularly impressed and dumbfounded at that play.
“That run he made along the sideline; I just looked at the coaches next to me and shook my head,” Pinkel said. “He is an amazing athlete and only a sophomore. He is going to get a lot better. He is a gift.”
With MU leading 41-31 and Texas Tech coming off a touchdown on a 26-yard reception by Carlos Francis, Smith gained 60 yards on the Tigers’ 47-yard drive that ended with his 2-yard run. His career rushing high was 213 yards against Oklahoma on Oct. 5, 2002.
“That first year he played, we knew he was special,” Missouri sophomore cornerback Calvin Washington said. “That’s the scary thing, that dude can get better, a lot better. I’m glad I’m here to be with him and witness this.”
The fourth-quarter play where Smith scored his final touchdown was not designed for long yardage, Pinkel said. On third-and-4 on the Tigers’ 39, Smith broke to the left and ran 61 yards to break the school record. Smith had tied the record against Nebraska on Oct. 11.