COLUMBIA — The shout echoed throughout Arrowhead Stadium in the moments immediately following Missouri’s Border Showdown victory. The thousands of Missouri fans who stuck around after Missouri defeated Kansas 36-28 Saturday night made their feelings clear.
“We’re No. 1!” they chanted over and over while jabbing index fingers in the air.
During a postgame interview with ESPN analysts Chris Fowler and Lee Corso, quarterback Chase Daniel echoed the sentiments of Tigers fans when Fowler asked if he thought the Tigers were worthy of the ranking.
“I think so,” Daniel told Fowler. “There’s no reason why we shouldn’t be.”
Missouri coach Gary Pinkel was also matter of fact about the Tigers’ chances in the polls after the victory.
“I think it’s great,” he said. “That’s what happens when you play in the Big 12 and you’re 11-1 and possibly have a shot for a national championship. I’m excited about that.”
The Associated Press responded favorably to Daniel and Pinkel on Sunday, putting the Tigers on top of its poll for the second time in school history. It is the Tigers’ first No. 1 ranking since November of 1960. The Tigers received 45 first-place votes, while No. 2 ranked West Virginia got 20.
The Tigers’ victory over Kansas marked the seventh time this season that the No. 2 ranked team in the AP poll had lost. The victory did not impress the coaches as much as it did the media. The Mountaineers got the No. 1 ranking in the USA Today coaches’ poll, receiving 37 first-place votes to Missouri’s 17. The Mountaineers wrapped up a Big East Championship with a 66-21 triumph against Connecticut.
In the BCS rankings, which ultimately determine which teams play for the national championship, Missouri was listed at No. 1 over West Virginia.
But Missouri must win the Big 12 championship game to keep its national title hopes alive. After beating Kansas for the Big 12 North title, the Tigers move on to play No. 9 Oklahoma, the Big 12 South champions, on Dec. 1 in San Antonio.
Big 12 and national titles are the top priorities that Pinkel presents in a pyramid before every season.
“Every year this is the first thing I talk about with the players,” Pinkel said. “You can have a great team, and not win any national championships, or a conference championship, but I always felt that it was very important that you put the ultimate goal of the program in front of the players.”
The No. 1 chants could be much louder with a victory over the Sooners.
“We had to win five straight games and then this game to get a chance to play in this one,” Pinkel said. “I’m so proud of everybody, and we are excited to get the chance to play for the Big 12 championship.”