COLUMBIA — Even without playing its best game against Iowa State, Missouri has put itself in a position to have its best season since 1969.
But the Tigers (7-1, 3-1) will have to accomplish that feat without safety Pig Brown, one of their defensive leaders.
Senior nose tackle Lorenzo Williams knew how the team played in its’ 42-28 victory against the Cyclones (1-8, 0-5). He knew what grade it deserved.
“It wasn’t a lot of people’s best games,” he said. “It was a little more like our B-game than our A-game.”
It didn’t seem like that at the start of the game. The Tigers scored touchdowns on their first two drives, and Daniel completed his first 12 passes.
But then the mistakes started. Daniel threw an interception on an errant throw to tight end Martin Rucker, and the Cyclones returned it for a touchdown. The defense couldn’t stop Iowa State on numerous third downs. Backup running back Alexander Robinson gashed the Tigers for 149 yards, after the redshirt freshman had rushed for only 74 yards in his first eight games. The MU offense gained less than 400 yards for the first time this season.
The smallest crowd of the season at Faurot Field (53,386) wasn’t too enthusiastic when compared with its raucous cheering against Nebraska and Texas Tech. One of loudest roars in the third quarter was when Truman the Tiger took down Cy, Iowa State’s mascot.
Despite their errors, the No. 13 Tigers had too much talent for the Cyclones. Wide receiver Jeremy Maclin was too fast, and Daniel was too consistent.
The Tigers’ potential is evident. They will move up in the rankings this week. That’s the bizarre nature of this year in college football, with upsets striking teams across the country like the flu every weekend. Four of the five teams ranked above MU in the AP poll all lost this weekend — No. 8 Virginia Tech, No. 10 South Florida, No. 11 Florida and No. 12 USC.
But the Tigers will have to play better next week to keep that ranking, when they travel to the place where Oklahoma fell 27-24. If they beat Colorado, they will have their best start since 1969 (8-1), when they were Big Eight co-conference champions and finished the season ranked No. 6. But the Tigers haven’t won in Boulder recently. They have defeated the Buffaloes only once in their last 11 trips into high altitude — 41-31 in 1997.
Brown won’t be able to make that trip. The senior captain ruptured his Achilles tendon on the Cyclones’ last drive of the game, and he’s out for the season, MU team officials said. His face was covered with a towel while he was carted away from the sideline.
“Everybody’s praying for him,” Maclin said. “That means other guys have to step up.”
Temple returns: Starting tailback Tony Temple returned after missing two games with an injured right ankle. After the game, he looked down at his foot and considered how he felt.
“It’s all right, I guess,” he said.
He said he will need a couple of weeks to regain his health. His carries were limited (eight for 40 yards) while he split time with backup tailback Jimmy Jackson (seven carries for 32 yards).