Loss to KU doesn’t ruin Tigers’ division title hopes

Monday, October 31, 2005 | 12:00 a.m. CST; updated 2:22 p.m. CDT, Saturday, July 19, 2008

It might seem like the same old Missouri football team. For the third straight year, the Tigers fell to that “basketball school” from Lawrence, Kan. Quarterback Brad Smith and the Missouri offense couldn’t elude the Jayhawks defenders who must have looked like deadly birds of prey to the Tigers in their 13-3 loss.

So it’s time to put away that Brad Smith jersey for the winter and head over to Mizzou Arena to see if the basketball team can fair any better, right?

Not so fast. Missouri (5-3, 3-2) still controls its fate in the Big 12 North Division. If they win at Colorado (6-2, 4-1) on Saturday, the Tigers can be back in line for the division crown. A Tiger victory against the Buffaloes would even the teams’s records and give Missouri the tie-breaker.

Although the Kansas loss was a blow to Missouri’s pride, a win at Folsom Field could quickly erase the painful memory. Because the game, scheduled for 2:30 p.m., will be televised on ABC, it could also reintroduce Missouri to the media and prospective bowl games.

No one understands the importance of the Colorado game better than the Tigers themselves, who, while rightfully dejected after this week’s gut-wrenching loss, spoke more about needing to put the loss behind them and focus on Colorado than anything else.

“We need to refocus and not let this linger,” cornerback Darnell Terrell said. “Because, if we don’t, it’s going to mess up the rest of our season.

Senior Tony Palmer, minus his typical jolly smile, said the team needs to step up against Colorado.

“This was a heartbreaker,” he said. “But it’s a humbling experience. We know we need to play as a unit,”

The success of Smith will be vital. Up to this point in the season, he has contributed 69 percent of the team’s total offense, and when he struggles, so does Missouri. Thus far, he’s had a see-saw season, up one week and down the next, which the Tigers record shows.

Smith said he and the rest of the team came out flat against Kansas.

“We didn’t have that fire,” he said.

As one of the team’s senior leaders, Smith said he was blunt in talking to the younger players on the team after the game.

“It was frustrating,” he said. “I’m not going to tell anyone not to take it hard. I just told them there’s nothing that you can do about it and that you have to learn from your mistakes and what you did wrong and put that into play next week.”

If the Tigers are able to do so, they just might prove they aren’t those same paper Tigers of seasons past.

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