October 11, 2008

Tiger Notebook: Tigers try to move forward

For the better part of two years, the Missouri Tigers have sat back and watched out-of-the-blue upsets wreak havoc with college football's top ten. And over that same time, the Tigers had escaped being victimized by that upset bug. On Saturday night, in front of a sellout crowd and with a chance to snatch the nation's No. 1 ranking, Missouri found out what it feels like.

"Your guts feel like they've just been ripped out," Gary Pinkel said. "We just haven't been in this situation for a while, we haven't lost here for a while. It hurts."

The Tigers fell 28-23 to Oklahoma State. All night, the Missouri offense, which had looked unstoppable most of the season, had trouble getting going. The Tigers' first drive stalled inside the one-yard line. The only other scoring drive of the first half covered just 36 yards following a nearly inexplicable fake punt by the Cowboys.

But after all that, Missouri had a chance to win. The deal wasn't done until Chase Daniel's third interception of the night landed in the hands of Oklahoma State linebacker Patrick Lavine with 1:41 remaining.

"I put it all on me," Daniel said. "I shouldn't have made all three of those throws. Three interceptions is very uncharacteristic. It seemed like we were a little bit off all night. For the reason, I have no idea."

Daniel had gone 160 passes without throwing an interception before throwing one in the second quarter. He threw another in the fourth, trying to find Jeremy Maclin deep over the middle with the Tigers driving to try to erase a 21-17 deficit. Andre Sexton ran that one back into Missouri territory and the Cowboys turned it into a touchdown to lead by 11 points. On the next drive, Daniel guided the Tigers to a score that narrowed the gap to five points. Following a stop by the Missouri defense and an 11-yard punt, Mizzou got the ball with 2:40 on the clock and 65 yards to pull a win from the jaws of defeat. At that point, there was little doubt in the Tigers' minds what was going to happen.

"I had no doubt, I knew they were going to score," said Castine Bridges. "Everybody on our sideline, when our offense gets the ball, we know what they're capable of."

And momentarily, it looked like the Tigers would do just that. Daniel found Earl Goldsmith for nine yards. The Tigers got 15 more on a late hit against the Cowboys. Daniel hit Jared Perry for four. And just like that, Mizzou was perched at the Oklahoma State 37-yard line with nearly two minutes to play and a comeback victory within their grasp.

That was when Daniel tried to hit Maclin on a short pass to the outside. As Maclin slid to make the grab, Lavine dove in front of him and picked it off.

"I tried to stick it in to J-Mac," Daniel said. "I just wasn't able to do it."

Daniel still threw for 390 yards and added 46 more on the ground. But it was the three turnovers that most will remember and that ultimately did the Tigers in.

"Everyone expects perfection from Chase," Pinkel said.

On this night, at least, he came up just a little bit short.

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