The Tigers (10-1) defeated Kansas State on Saturday and will play Kansas next weekend in Kansas City for the Big 12 North Division title.
The Tigers forced a three-and-out by Kansas State early in the fourth quarter after linebacker Sean Weatherspoon and safety William Moore each registered sacks on K-State quarterback Josh Freeman.
The Tigers’ next drive started at Kansas State’s 49. The Tigers drove down the field and decided to go for it on fourth-and-goal from the 1. Quarterback Chase Daniel threw a jump pass to tight end Martin Rucker, who caught it in the back of the end zone for a touchdown. That made the score 42-25 with 9:34 left in the game.
MU’s Weatherspoon forced a fumble on Kansas State’s ensuing possession, which was recovered by linebacker Van Alexander at the K-State 43. Running back Tony Temple gashed his way 22 yards to the Wildcats’ 14 and receiver Jared Perry caught a screen to the 1. Temple rushed for a touchdown on the next play, increasing the lead to 24 points.
Kansas State's Jordy Nelson scored to cut Missouri's final lead to 49-32.
Third quarter: Missouri 35, Kansas State 25
The Tigers amassed just 40 yards on 13 carries in the first 20 minutes of play. MU running back Tony Temple eclipsed that total on the first drive of the second half, rushing for 30 yards on four carries.
Temple surpassed his first-half rushing total of 10 yards on his second carry, scampering through the Kansas State defense for 15 yards. Two plays later Chase Daniel threw down the middle of the field to a wide-open Jeremy Maclin for 36 yards to the Wildcat 2-yard line. Temple plowed into the end zone for a touchdown on the next play, extending MU’s lead to 28-18.
The Tigers forced a punt on Kansas State’s next possession, and MU’s drive started at its own 7. The Tigers worked their way to the Wildcats’ 44-yard line, but were facing a long third down. Daniel went back to pass, avoided a lineman who was inches away from stripping the ball and floated a pass to receiver Jeremy Maclin, who was waiting all alone in the end zone after slipping past the defense. The touchdown gave MU a 35-18 lead.
The Wildcats couldn’t do anything with the ball their next two possessions, but a perfect punt pinned the Tigers at their own 1-yard line. The Tigers punted after gaining only 1 yard, and the Wildcats returned it to the MU 13. The Wildcats scored on a 20-yard touchdown pass on third-and-17, making the score 35-25 Tigers.
Halftime: Missouri 21, Kansas State 18
Kansas State continued to capitalize on the momentum it built late in the first quarter by blocking Adam Crossett’s punt and returning it 32 yards for a touchdown. MU then blocked its second PAT of the game, making the score 15-14 Wildcats.
The Tigers’ offense seemed to regroup on its next drive, methodically working its way down the field to regain the lead. The drive featured a reverse to wide receiver Danario Alexander that went for 11 yards, a 23-yard pass to Jeremy Maclin and an 8-yard touchdown pass from Chase Daniel to tight end Martin Rucker. The extra point made it MU 21, Kansas State 15.
Both teams punted on their next possessions until Kansas State got the ball back at its own 7 midway through the quarter. The Wildcats converted a couple of third-down conversions and running back James Johnson continued to run at will against MU’s defense. The drive was held up at the Tigers' 5, and the Wildcats hit a 22-yard field goal to cut the lead to 21-18 with 38 seconds left in the half.
First quarter: Missouri 14, Kansas State 9
Kansas State got the ball first, but on third-and-4 safety William Moore picked off Wildcats' quarterback Josh Freeman and returned it 22-yards to the Kansas State 15. It was Moore’s team-leading sixth interception of the season.
On the Tigers’ second offensive play, quarterback Chase Daniel threw an 8-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Jeremy Maclin, who dove between three defenders to make the catch in the end zone.
Kansas State used a barrage of rushes by running back James Johnson on its next possession to work its way inside the MU 5-yard line. Referees initially ruled that Johnson fumbled late in the drive, but a review overturned the play. The MU defense held the Wildcats from there, however, and forced a field goal.
On the ensuing kickoff, Maclin caught the ball at the 2, appeared to get tackled at the Tiger 30, but managed to stay on his feet and race to the end zone for a touchdown. It was the first time in 287 games and 976 returns that the Tigers scored a touchdown on a kickoff. Maclin broke the NCAA freshman season record of 1,949 all-purpose yards on the play, which was set by Terrell Willis of Rutgers in 1993.
The Tigers’ momentum would not last long. A fumble by receiver William Franklin was recovered by Kansas State but wiped out after a personal foul was called on the Wildcats when a defensive lineman slapped Daniel’s helmet. The drive later stalled when the Tigers failed on a fourth down play.
Kansas State’s Johnson then scored on a 66-yard touchdown run with 15 seconds left in the first quarter. The point after was blocked by defensive end Stryker Sulak, and the Tigers ended the quarter with a 14-9 lead.