BOULDER, Colo. — The Missouri football team has solved some more of the problems that have plagued its program for most of the seven-year Gary Pinkel era.
Saturday’s 55-10 victory against Colorado was Missouri’s first road win against the Buffaloes since 1997 and the first since Pinkel’s arrival in 2001.
The AP Top 25The Top 25 teams in The Associated Press college football poll, with first-place votes in parentheses: 1. Ohio St. (60) 2. LSU (5) 3. Oregon 4. Oklahoma 5. Kansas 6. West Virginia 7. Missouri 8. Boston College 9. Arizona St. 10. Georgia 11. Virginia Tech 12. Southern Cal 13. Michigan 14. Hawaii 15. Texas 16. Connecticut 17. Florida 18. Auburn 19. Boise St. 20. Clemson 21. Alabama 22. Tennessee 23. Virginia 24. California 24. Kentucky Others receiving votes: Florida St. 89, Cincinnati 68, BYU 44, Penn St. 38, Illinois 27, Arkansas 20, Wisconsin 12, South Florida 11, Wake Forest 8, South Carolina 6, Purdue 3, Troy 1.
The BCS standings1. Ohio State 2. LSU 3. Oregon 4. Kansas 5. Oklahoma 6. Missouri 7. West Virginia 8. Boston College 9. Arizona State 10. Georgia 11. Virginia Tech 12. Michigan 13. Connecticut 14. Texas 15. Florida 16. Hawaii 17. USC 18. Auburn 19. Virginia 20. Boise State 21. Clemson 22. Alabama 23. Penn State 24. Tennessee 25. Kentucky
“I don’t look back very much,” Pinkel said when asked about past failures in Colorado. “I feel good about this because Colorado is a good team, and I told my team this would be a good game at this time for us.”
The victory improved Missouri (8-1, 4-1) in the rankings, with the Tigers moving up two spots to No. 7 in the AP and USA Today coaches’ polls. It’s the Tigers’ highest ranking since they were No. 5 in 1979. Missouri also improved in the BCS standings to No. 6.
It is another move forward for a team that has consistently made breakthroughs this season. In the past, when the calendar turns to the month of November, the Tigers have taken a turn for the worse.
The victory gave Pinkel-led Missouri teams an 8-13 record in the month, and it was the third November road win under Pinkel.
“When you get in November and want to make a run for this thing, you got to play at a high level every week,” Pinkel said. “You can’t play at a high level one week and then bring your C game the next week.”
A nosedive had seemed likely with the loss of defensive captain Pig Brown on Oct. 27 against Iowa State, and many fans braced themselves for it when the Tigers trailed Colorado 10-7 at the end of the first quarter.
But 48 unanswered points and 598 offensive yards later, the Tigers left Folsom Field reaching team and individual milestones that, undoubtedly, will give them momentum heading into the season’s final three games.
Two of Missouri’s most heralded perimeter players, a group that Pinkel referred to as his best collection as a coach, etched their names into the school record books.
Junior tight end Chase Coffman’s third touchdown of the game broke the MU career record for receiving touchdowns of 18 previously held by Justin Gage.
On a 15-yard reception in the second quarter, receiver Jeremy Maclin broke the MU single-season total yardage record of 1,621 that was set by former All-American Devin West in 1998. In only his ninth collegiate game, the redshirt freshman has accumulated at least 200 yards in both return categories as well as receiving and rushing.
And after returning from a torn ACL during fall practices in 2006, Maclin said he is proud of the accomplishment. However, he said it’s more about the team’s progress than his own personal gain.
“That’s all good and this victory is good, but now we got to move on to the next game which is Texas A&M,” he said.
Those who followed the 2006 Missouri team remember the Tigers’ contest against the Aggies all too well. An outstanding reception by receiver Will Franklin on the Tigers’ first offensive possession was fumbled into the back of the end zone. It was one of several mistakes that played into a 25-19 Missouri defeat, the first of four losses to close out the season.
But, so far, this season’s Tigers have distinguished themselves from earlier Missouri teams. They are 8-1 for the first time since 1969, when Missouri last won a conference championship in football. A Big 12 North championship has mathematically been limited to either Missouri or Kansas, adding more intrigue to their meeting in three weeks.
But for now, the No. 7 Tigers can take solace in what they did and didn’t do in Colorado — coming out with a victory without any signs of a late-season collapse.
“This is huge,” quarterback Chase Daniel said. “It was good to come out here to win a game, and we are used to breaking down barriers, so we have to keep rolling.”