|No more respectable losses for Gary Pinkel's Missouri Tigers|
|Written by Admin|
|Sunday, 21 October 2007 13:35|
``I wanted to make it really clear to them that there's nothing wrong with feeling good that you played well, but if you're not bitterly disappointed that you lost that game then your standards aren't high enough,'' Pinkel said after Saturday's 41-10 victory. ``If you want to get to the top of the mountain, you'd better think that way.''
Pinkel's first season was 2001, and he recalled fans cheering after a 19-point loss to No. 7 Texas and how it grated on him. At the time, he said ``That's how losers think.''
That attitude no longer prevails with the No. 13 Tigers (6-1, 2-1 Big 12), who rose two spots in this week's AP Top 25.
Quarterback Chase Daniel said he's known for a while that Missouri can hang with the top teams, and said the Tigers should have beaten Oklahoma.
Missouri knocked its second team from the rankings this season, also beating No. 25 Nebraska 41-6 two weeks ago. Texas Tech had been 22nd, ranked for the first time this season.
``I knew what our players could do if they just went out there and did it,'' Daniel said. ``This was a great win for the program, coming off a hard loss at Oklahoma and beating a ranked team and beating them pretty handily.
``It says a lot about our program, and it says a lot about where we're at from years past.''
The keys against Texas Tech were a fast-improving defense that intercepted Graham Harrell four times and a potent running game minus injured tailback Tony Temple. Texas Tech forced Missouri to run and the result was 212 yards, a 4.2-yard average and three short touchdown runs by stand-in starter Jimmy Jackson.
Missouri surrendered 41 points at Oklahoma and 34 to Illinois in the opener, but has excelled at home. The Tigers matched the touchdown total of the nation's top offense with a 38-yard interception return by Stryker Sulak and held Texas Tech to 388 yards, 101 yards fewer than the Red Raiders' previous season low.
Defensive coordinator Matt Eberflus kept Texas Tech guessing by constantly changing and disguising coverages. Safety Cornelius ``Pig'' Brown had 14 tackles and an interception to lead the swarm.
The Red Raiders came up empty on their first four attempts on fourth down, succeeding three times later in the game only after the Tigers had taken control. Texas Tech had minus-9 yards rushing.
Afterward, Texas Tech coach Mike Leach said perhaps he shouldn't have been so aggressive. Texas Tech (50) and Missouri (40) combined for an average of 90 points entering the game.
``There were key points in the game where I probably should have kicked a field goal and not gone for it on fourth down, because there's that theory where you're scoring back and forth,'' Leach said. ``We just squandered too many chances to really get the upper hand.
``This type of thing happens to people, and it happened to us.''
Missouri's defense and the surprisingly effective running game behind Jackson (59 yards) and freshman Derrick Washington (66) allowed them to win without a big game from Daniel. Daniel was 14-for-19 for 210 yards, by far season lows for attempts and yards.
Temple missed his second straight game with a right ankle injury. Pinkel was hesitant to forecast Temple's availability for next week against Iowa State, given that he had said Temple would be back for Texas Tech.
Jackson and Washington showed that Temple need not rush things.
``The running lanes were there, obviously,'' Washington said. ``That's why we kept pounding the ball. All the running backs, we did an excellent job.''