On a wild night in Columbia, the Missouri Tigers took care of business by beating No. 21 Texas A&M at home.
With the big 28-21 win at Faurot Field, Missouri improved to 11-1 on the season and will play Auburn in the SEC Championship Game in Atlanta next Saturday.
Texas A&M struck first when Tra Carson burst through the Missouri defense and rumbled 29 yards for a big opening touchdown. The score silenced the Missouri crowd momentarily, but the Tigers would fight back.
After stalling for most of the half on offense, quarterback James Franklin dropped back to pass and delivered a beautiful strike to sophomore Dorial Green-Beckham for a game-tying 38-yard touchdown with 5:16 left in the half. The catch was Green-Beckham’s ninth touchdown of the season.
Letting the Aggies offense drive on it again, the Tigers defense gave up a touchdown on the following possession. This time it was Heisman winner Johnny Manziel rolling out and hitting receiver Derel Walker for a 39-yard touchdown. The score came just 1:10 after the Tigers’ tied the score and gave the Aggies a 14-7 lead.
The first half was dominated by Texas A&M who had several big plays including a couple of big runs by Brandon Williams and Trey Williams. The story of the second half would be rather different. The Missouri offense came out of the break clicking on all cylinders.
Driving down the field on their first drive, the Tigers set themselves up for 1st-and-goal from the 2-yard line. From there, running back Marcus Murphy punched it in for a two-yard score to tie the score at 14 with 12:15 remaining in the third quarter.
After stopping the Aggies, the Tigers got the ball back and picked up where they left off on the first drive of the second half. After reaching A&M's 5-yard line, Franklin found senior receiver L’Damian Washington in the back corner of the end zone for a go-ahead touchdown. Initially, the play was ruled incomplete, but upon further review, officials reversed the call and ruled that Washington had control throughout the catch.
Missouri quickly got the ball back, but failed to increase its lead. Early in the fourth quarter, the Aggie running game continued to gash the Missouri defense. An early fourth-quarter drive culminated in a Ben Malena seven-yard touchdown run that tied the score at 21.
After going back and forth the Aggies for most of the fourth quarter, the Tigers’ found themselves in possession of the ball at their own 43-yard line. From there, redshirt junior running back Henry Josey burst through the middle of the Aggie defense for a gigantic 57-yard touchdown run. The score put the Tigers up 28-21 and Faurot Field erupted in jubilation.
The Aggies still had a chance to tie when they got the ball with 3:34 left in the game. After getting stopped for a loss on first down, Texas A&M never recovered. Head coach Kevin Sumlin used a questionable timeout before punting to the Tigers with just over two minutes to play.
While the distance from Columbia to Atlanta is 677 miles away, a trip to the SEC Championship Game was just ten yards away for Missouri’s offense. On second down, Franklin rolled out on an unconventional play call and floated a pass into the arms of tight end Eric Waters. Waters ran past the first-down marker and the game was all but over.
Russell Hansbrough added another first down run before the Tigers lined up in the victory formation. As Missouri took a knee and time expired, the Tiger crowd was up for grabs.
The most unlikely success story in college football this season, Missouri moves to 11-1 and continues its miracle run. In a season in which nobody gave Missouri a chance to win more than eight games, the Tigers have notched 11 victories and still have a realistic shot at the BCS National Championship.
With a Missouri win next week and an Ohio State loss to Michigan State in the Big Ten Championship Game next Saturday, the Tigers could be headed to Pasadena for a shot at the national championship. The celebration for Mizzou will carry on tonight, but tomorrow the Tigers will put all their energy towards proving the experts wrong yet again.
For now, Missouri is focused on taking on the Auburn Tigers in the SEC Championship Game. That game will be at 3 p.m. CDT.
While this game was experienced first-hand, some stats used in this piece are from ESPN.