December 1, 2007

Tiger Notebook: One game short

SAN ANTONIO, TX--Every game has its turning points. But two in particular stood out to the Missouri Tigers after a 38-17 loss to Oklahoma in the Big XII Championship game. First was an interception by Curtis Lofton that came off a pass tipped by Martin Rucker. Lofton returned the ball inside the Missouri ten to set up a touchdown that put the Sooners up 28-14.

"We had a receiver who was wide open and he just didn't look for the ball," Gary Pinkel said.

"That's on me," Rucker said. "I came to the sideline and Chase knew it was coming early and all the coaches knew it was coming early. It seemed like I was the only one who didn't know it was coming early so that's on me."

After the ensuing score, the Tigers were never able to get closer than 11 points the rest of the way. It was the second consecutive game between these teams that miscommunication led to a takeaway by Lofton that turned the game. However, it was an earlier play that the Tigers pointed to that turned the game.

In a tie game midway through the fourth quarter Jeremy Maclin took an end around to the Sooner 25-yard line. However, on the next three plays, the Oklahoma defense sacked Chase Daniel twice and forced a scramble that gained only two yards. Instead of a go-ahead score, Missouri was forced to punt. The Tigers never led.

"When you get that close…it was just very disappointing." Tony Temple said. "We had momentum there and we just didn't executed. That's on us."

The series was emblematic of the game as a whole. The Tigers had five possessions that reached the 25-yard line or closer. Missouri got just 17 points and scored only one touchdown on those possessions.

"We had to settle for field goals," Daniel said. "Against a great team like Oklahoma, you can't do that."

The Tigers came into the game having scored touchdowns on 42 of their 60 possessions inside the opponents' 20, figuring out to an even 70%. They were just one-for-four on Saturday night. Meanwhile, Oklahoma converted their first five red zone chances into touchdowns.



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