It's back to proving ground for No. 11 Missouri Print
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Sunday, 12 October 2008 12:47
NCAAF Headline News

 COLUMBIA, Mo. (AP) -Missouri's offense all but disappeared. So did the Tigers' national-title hopes.
The Tigers' 53-point scoring machine malfunctioned repeatedly in Saturday night's 28-23 upset at home to No. 17 Oklahoma State. They're out of the Top 10 for the first time this season, a disappointing No. 11 heading into next week's game at top-ranked Texas, which profited from the bumbling to move into a top spot that had been up for grabs for then-No. 3 Missouri.
``I don't think it's a sense of desperation,'' Chase Daniel said. ``All of our goals are still there. Would we like to have gone undefeated? Of course.''
Missouri (5-1, 1-1) spent a week at No. 1 for the first time in school history last season before finishing out of the BCS and settling for a Cotton Bowl victory over Arkansas. A game against Oklahoma State like any of the five early-season romps could have put the Tigers back on top.
Of course, they have a chance to topple another No. 1 this weekend.
at Texas would do wonders for Missouri's suddenly tarnished reputation. Outplaying Colt McCoy would allow Daniel, who threw three interceptions Saturday after just one the first five games, to jump back into the Heisman picture.
At least one of the picks was not Daniel's fault, bouncing off the numbers on Danario Alexander's jersey.
``There's a lot of things you look at,'' coach Gary Pinkel said. ``Everybody expects perfection from Chase. We'll look at them, we'll learn from them, we'll go on.''
Every game this year, Missouri seniors are taking turns wearing the No. 25 that had belonged to former teammate Aaron O'Neal, who died after a summer workout in 2005. It was Daniel's turn against Oklahoma State, and he definitely was not himself.
Daniel kept firing and finished 39-for-52 for 390 yards. He was Missouri's leading rusher with 46 yards on seven carries and his lone touchdown pass, a 7-yarder to Alexander with 4:27 to go for the game's final score, put Missouri in position to pull it out before Patrick Lavine's interception at the Oklahoma State 31 with 1:41 to go clinched it.
An early loss does not have to be devastating. Missouri has six regular-season games left, plenty of time to iron out problems exposed by an Oklahoma State defense that had been unexceptional.
The biggest surprise may have been an inability to spring Derrick Washington, who averaged 100 yards rushing in his first five career starts and entered the game as the nation's scoring leader with 12 touchdowns. Washington was held to 11 yards on eight carries, although he scored on a 5-yard run.
For the most part, Missouri's defense had a strong effort against a school that had been averaging 52 points, leading to expectations of a shootout. Dez Bryant, Oklahoma State's all-purpose threat, was held in check.
But three big plays were devastating. Damian Davis caught touchdown passes of 40 and 31 yards for a 28-17 lead with 6:30 to go, and Kendall Hunter sprung a fairly innocent-looking sweep for a 68-yard touchdown run at the start of the third quarter.
``There's no one guy you point to,'' Pinkel said. ``I thought we did a lot of really good things against a really potent offense.''
Even normally automatic kicker Jeff Wolfert was out of sorts. Wolfert set the school career scoring record, breaking the mark set by quarterback Brad Smith from 2002-05, but it was a hollow achievement after he missed two field goal attempts that could have meant the difference.
 

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