Missouri deserves much of the blame for their late-game collapses and disappointing results, but not all of them.
Whether they were highly touted stars or unheralded newcomers, several players Missouri faced deserve recognition for their exemplary performances this season against Missouri.
The Missourian’s All-Opponent Team recognizes those outstanding performances.
Brian Luke, Kansas
Luke began the season as the Jayhawks’ fourth-string quarterback, but he played like a longtime starter in Kansas’ 31-14 win at Missouri. He threw for two touchdowns on 24-of-36 passing. His 239 yards came against the fourth-best pass defense in the nation.
His only blemish, an interception, came in the second half after Luke had put the game out of reach.
Cedric Benson, Texas
The Big 12 Conference leader in rushing yards had 150 and two touchdowns on 28 attempts against the Tigers. Benson rarely went down on first contact and used his powerful legs to gain extra yards that earned valuable first downs for the Longhorns in their 28-20 win.
After the game, Missouri defensive end Xzavie Jackson said Benson was the best running back he has played against.
Chuck Walker, Arkansas State
Walker, a St. Louis native, decimated the Missouri secondary in the season opener, making six catches for 126 yards. Arkansas State quarterbacks Nick Noce and Devin Hollins consistently found Walker for big plays.
Five of Walker’s catches went for first downs, including a 45-yard pass on third-and-24.
Brian Casey, Kansas State
Casey helped jump start the Wildcats’ stagnant offense late in the first half of their 35-24 win at Missouri. A 24-yard completion from quarterback Dylan Meier moved the ball to the Missouri 37 and led to the first touchdown. He put the Wildcats in scoring position on their next drive with a 38-yard completion.
He finished with three receptions for 69 yards to lead the Wildcats. He also helped pave way for their running game, which amassed 225 yards.
The Cowboys entered the game against Missouri with one of the best running attacks in the country but looked helpless through most of the first half. The line awoke, though, and opened massive holes for running back Vernand Morency and quarterback Donovan Woods.
Oklahoma State had 278 rushing yards, including 173 for Morency and 71 for Woods, who ran untouched for a crucial 34-yard touchdown early in the fourth quarter to tie at 17 and complete the Cowboys’ 17-point comeback.
David McMillan, Kansas
McMillan spent most of the day pestering Missouri quarterback Brad Smith and stalled Missouri’s comeback attempt with his second sack of the day.
McMillan finished with three sacks for 35 yards, helping Kansas hold the Tigers to negative 6 rushing yards. He also had five tackles and forced a fumble.
Barrett Ruud, Nebraska
Ruud, an NFL-caliber middle linebacker, frustrated Missouri’s offense in many ways in the Cornhuskers’ 24-3 win on Oct. 30. Ruud spearheaded the effort that extended the Tigers’ streak without a touchdown to six quarters and held them to 51 yards rushing.
Ruud made 17 tackles, including 3 1/2 for a loss. He also received credit for half of a sack and a quarterback hurry.
Aaron Ross, Texas
The cornerback had one of Texas’ two interceptions against Missouri and made it count, returning it 64 yards. The Longhorns capitalized with Benson running the ball in for a touchdown two plays later, giving them a 7-point halftime lead.
Ross, who did not start for Texas, also had six tackles.
Reggie Hodges, Ball State
With Ball State’s offense unable to move the ball against Missouri, Hodges had plenty of opportunities to display his big leg. Ten times the Cardinals were forced to punt the football and Hodges did his part in trying to slow down Missouri, averaging 51 yards.
He also placed two inside the 20-yard line.
Junior Louissaint, Troy, OL
After running back DeWhitt Betterson fumbled, the ball popped into the hands of Loussaint, who carried it 63 yards for a touchdown to tie the game at 14.
Louissaint, a 277-pound guard, showed surprisingly impressive speed and carried Missouri cornerback A.J. Kincade several yards into the end zone.
Mark Mangino, Kansas
The Border Showdown quickly turned ugly with Kansas dominating every facet of the game to take a 21-0 halftime lead.
Although most coaches got the better of Missouri’s Gary Pinkel, Mangino was one of the few to have a better game plan.
The Tigers threatened to come back late, but Kansas stayed calm, and the strong play of its defense put the game away.
Playing for nothing other than pride, Mangino found a way to motivate his players in the 31-14 win.
PLAYER OF THE YEAR
Cedric Benson, Texas
When quarterback Vince Young left the game with a bruised sternum and backup Chance Mock struggled to throw the football, Texas’ hopes of winning fell on Benson’s shoulders. The senior did not let the Longhorns down. He carried Texas in the second half and refused to let the Tigers stop him when Texas needed him most.
Had the Tigers won this game, the season would have likely ended differently.
ALL-OPPONENT SECOND TEAM
Allen Webb, Kansas State
Completed 6-of-8 passes for two touchdowns and gained 163 total yards.
Darren Sproles, Kansas State
Rushed for 164 yards and two touchdowns, including a 74-yard score on which he displayed incredible footwork.
Jason Samples, Troy
Made a leaping 33-yard touchdown catch and a 24-yard touchdown pass on a trick play.
James Wright, Iowa State
Caught three passes for 39 yards, including a crucial 31-yard reception.
Dominated in the second half, helping the Wildcats gain 225 yards on the ground while allowing no sacks.
Brian Robison, Texas
Intercepted a Brad Smith pass with an acrobatic leap and returned it 2 yards for a touchdown.
Derrick Johnson, Texas
Had nine tackles, including three for a loss, and three quarterback hurries.
Charles Gordon, Kansas
The Jayhawks’ resident utility man had an interception in the fourth quarter that he returned 23 yards, sealing the win.
Jason Ricks, Oklahoma State
Made 2-of-2 field goals, including the winning kick with 55 seconds left.
Bernard Davis, Troy, LB
Produced 11 tackles, forced a fumble, broke up three passes and blocked a punt.
Bill Snyder, Kansas State
Kept his team focused despite being down 21-0 on the road.