Tigers stew over loss, look ahead

Missouri eager for conference season to get started
Friday, September 17, 2004 | 12:00 a.m. CDT; updated 9:10 a.m. CDT, Friday, July 18, 2008

Because Missouri previously played Thursday, it has had an extra two days to let the sick feeling of loss sink in.

“It won’t be gone for me until I get another win, beat another team,” wide receiver Thomson Omboga said. “I would think about it all week.”

Instead of merely stewing about the loss, coach Gary Pinkel said he hopes his team can appreciate the necessary lessons from its 24-14 defeat at Troy. The Tigers have a chance to show whether they’ve learned from their loss when they face Ball State at 1 p.m. Saturday at Memorial Stadium.

“When you lose a football game, you want everybody to suffer,” Pinkel said. “I think that’s part of being a winner, hating to lose. But there’s also a certain point when you let it go so that you focus on what you got to do to get better and improve.”

To shake off the loss, running back Damien Nash said the Tigers need to respond with a more consistent effort, especially on offense.

“We got to go out there with high intensity, just be more consistent,” Nash said.

Nash and the Tigers offense coasted to a 14-0 lead against Troy, but once the lead disappeared, the only consistency in the Tigers’ offense was its inability to produce.

After the first two touchdown drives, the Tigers moved the ball past the 50-yardline once.

The timing of the first loss, though, doesn’t harm the Tigers’ objectives because it occurred outside of the Big 12. Overall record has little effect on determining divisional champions, for it is the sixth tiebreaker rule.

“We just know we took a hard loss, and we’ve got to overcome that and go into Big 12 knowing that our goals are still out there,” Omboga said. “We still can achieve them.”

For the third straight week, the Tigers (1-1) will play a mid-major conference opponent. This game, though, is the Tigers’ final nonconference game and the final chance to straighten things out before Big 12 Conference play begins Oct. 2 against Colorado.

For the third straight year, the Tigers play Ball State, of the Mid American Conference.

Unlike Troy, which entered its game with Missouri with the momentum of an inspiring victory against Marshall, the Cardinals (0-2) also lost in embarrassing fashion last weekend.

The Cardinals played listlessly Saturday at Purdue, losing 59-7. Purdue quarterbacks Kyle Orton and Brandon Kirsch completed 26-of-30 passes for 368 yards. In addition, the Cardinals were limited to 197 total yards.

“We humiliated ourselves last week,” Ball State coach Brady Hoke said. “I think Purdue is a good football team by all means, but I think our confidence right now should still be hurting a little bit.”

Hoke also said the Cardinals, like the Tigers did in their loss to Troy, made unacceptable, unforced errors. The Cardinals committed 11 penalties and allowed Purdue to block two punts.

Pinkel, though, said he won’t read much into the Cardinals’ struggles at Purdue because the Boilermakers appear to be near the top of the Big Ten Conference. Instead, Pinkel pointed to a strong Cardinal performance against Boston College to open the season.

“They struggled a little bit against Purdue, but I think a lot of people are going to struggle against Purdue,” Pinkel said. “They played Boston College very, very well. They bring a combination of stuff on defense, but they’re very disciplined and run well.”

The Cardinals had a 5-0 lead early but faltered to a 19-11 loss to Boston College.

The Tigers have faced the Cardinals the past two seasons, winning both games by big margins.

Despite having one of his most productive halves of his career, quarterback Brad Smith doesn’t have much recollection of last year’s game other than from film. He left the game at halftime because he suffered a concussion. Former Tiger Sonny Riccio played the second half at quarterback.

“I don’t know which play it was exactly that got me, but my coaches tell me I got a straight head shot,” Smith said. “And after that I don’t remember too much of the game, except for what I saw on film. Just from the film, it’s started to click.”

Smith had accounted for 229 total yards and a 35-yard touchdown run. The Tigers led 21-7 at half and won 35-7 in Muncie, Ind.

In 2002, the Tigers scored 34 unanswered points in the second half, including 27 in the third quarter. Former running back Zack Abron had rushing touchdowns of 1, 3 and 5 yards to lead the Tigers to a 41-6 home win.

BIG 12 CHAMPIONSHIP TICKETS TO BE RELEASED: The Big 12 announced Thursday that tickets for the Big 12 Championship, played in Kansas City’s Arrowhead Stadium, will go on sale at 10 a.m. Monday.

The tickets range in price from $58-80, with a limit of 10 tickets per order. To purchase tickets, contact Ticketmaster outlets or the Arrowhead Stadium ticket office. The Big 12 office will not sell the tickets.

The championship game matches the winner of the Big 12 North Division against the winner of the South at 7 p.m. Dec. 4. Once the participants have been decided, the universities involved will receive 8,500 tickets to distribute on their own.

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