Welcome back, Missouri football.
The Tigers beat Kansas 42-17 on Saturday at Faurot Field.
Missouri ended a three-game losing streak to the Jayhawks, but more importantly the team ended the regular season with a win after losing four of the last five games.
Against Kansas (6-6, 3-5), the Tigers (8-4, 4-4) returned to the style of play that made them the first football team at MU to go 6-0 since 1973.
Missouri’s quarterback Chase Daniel had a career day with 356 passing yards and no interceptions. In Missouri’s losses this season he threw five interceptions.
Missouri also bounced back from a loss to Iowa State last week that officials said the Tigers should have won because of an incorrect holding call late in the game.
“This is exactly like one of the early season games,” Chase Daniel said. “We got our swagger back. We will have full-steam ahead going into bowl.”
Daniel, who threw for four touchdowns, became the first Missouri quarterback to throw for 3,000 yards in a season.
“I didn’t make some great throws, but I just got the ball to the receivers to make plays,” Daniel said.
The Tigers beat Kansas by doing what they had earlier in the season: distributing the football to multiple receivers and having a solid defensive effort.
The defense allowed 322 yards, but the majority of those came on large plays, such as a 42-yard touchdown run by Kansas running back Jon Cornish or an Aqib Talib 42-yard touchdown reception. The Tigers limited Cornish, the Big 12 Conference’s leading rusher coming into the game, to 126 yards. Last week he ran for 201 yards against Kansas State.
“We just go out play our game and let it come to us,” defensive lineman Xzavie Jackson said. “It came to us real nicely today. The defense had some great plays.”
During Missouri’s media day on Monday, Daniel said the team needed to get back to the game it loved and has played since they were 5 years old. On Saturday, the Tigers played as if they were little kids having fun. The team ran multiple reverses and had a trick play where Daniel handed the ball to running back Tony Temple, who pitched the ball to wide receiver Brad Ekwerekwu, who tossed it back to Daniel who then threw it to tight end Martin Rucker for a 47-yard gain.
Rucker said he agreed that, with the victory, the team regained its early season form.
“I don’t know where it was the last few weeks, but I’m glad it came back out here,” Rucker said.
Tom Fridena, a spokesman for the Insight Bowl said after the game that if Missouri would have played like this all season they would be playing in the championship game, instead of “playing for a two-bit bowl, like the Insight.”
Another reason for the Tigers’ success was penalties. Kansas had seven penalties for 70 yards, while Missouri had only one for 15, though it cost it a touchdown. Kansas’ most costly penalty came in the third quarter. The Jayhawks scored a touchdown making the game 20-17 Missouri, the closest the score was all game, and forced a fourth and three. The Tigers rushed to the line to snap the ball quickly and catch Kansas off guard. The play worked, causing an offsides and giving Missouri a first down. The Tigers went on to score on a 22-yard Temple rush.
“We can’t make those kind of mistakes,” Kansas coach Mark Mangino said. “You have to be smarter, especially when all you need to do is make a wall on that punt.”
Temple said the win showed the team’s resiliency.
“We had a lot of adversity throughout the season and we just put it all together, we remember that, learned as a team and we came out and played hard,” Temple said.
And as for beating Missouri’s rival and sending the 19 seniors off with a win in their last home game?
“It’s a great win and it being KU, what more can you ask for?” Temple said.