Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Shades of Old Mizzou: Tigers Stumble 17-10

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Shades of Old Mizzou: Tigers Stumble 17-10

Article excerpt

Just when you thought it was safe to watch without grimacing . . . just when you thought maybe redemption for 11 years of chaos was near . . . Lucy plucked the ball away from Charlie Brown. Again.

On Saturday at Faurot Field, the Missouri Tigers, a week after bullying a flimsy North Texas team, set about "burnin' their stripes" before they had even earned them. Before a puzzled crowd of 35,154, Mizzou bungled a 10-0 halftime lead and was stiff-armed 17-10 by - uh, er, well, ahem - Bowling Green State.

But don't tell Mizzou coach Larry Smith that the come-from-ahead loss to his alma mater might seem more galling - even embarrassing - because of the Falcons' lack of marquee presence.

So what if some may have perceived it as a guaranteed victory for MU?

"First of all, who's this you're talking about?" said Smith, who was told "fans."

"I'm not worried about what the fans' perception is. All I know is I didn't put the game on the schedule, and I know if you know football you know Bowling Green State University has an excellent football team and program and they rank eighth in the country in the last five years in winning percentage.

"Now I don't call that being a guaranteed win, and I think anybody who does doesn't know football and doesn't follow college football very well. I think everybody is playing the name game when they think that. And college football no longer is the name game."

Maybe not, but the game also was a gauge for where Missouri's once-revered program is - among the dregs of college football. As the Tigers prepare to enter the Big 12 Conference next season, they are precisely good enough to beat an independent team bound for the Big West next season and not good enough to beat a team from . . . the Mid-American Conference.

"I'm not saying we're in the Top 25," Bowling Green coach Gary Blackney said, "but most of the time we can line up with most people."

Even so, the most glaring deficiency in MU's loss was the Tigers' self-sabotage.

"We didn't have a killer instinct," said Smith, in his second year at MU. "We have to mature and grow into things like that. . . . Football doesn't always work the way you want it to work, and things don't always happen the way you want them to happen."

Among the things that just didn't quite work out:

The Tigers hacked up the football on three of their last six possessions. One fumble, by fullback Ernest Blackwell, came just one play after MU effectively got a Mulligan on a fumbled punt by Eddie Brooks that would have given Bowling Green the ball on MU's 12. That play was called back because of what officials called an "inadvertent whistle," but a play later Bowling Green took over instead at MU's 14.

"That fumble basically decided the game," a sheepish Blackwell said. "We were winning. We were on the way out."

Instead, Bowling Green promptly scored on a 1-yard pass from quarterback Ryan Henry to tight end Trevor Stower. …

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