Missouri Fans Concerned About Blowout: Will Tigers Return to Form?

Peter FleischerSenior Writer ISeptember 15, 2009

ST. LOUIS, MO - SEPTEMBER 5: Blaine Gabbert #11 of the University of Missouri Tigers passes against the University of Illinois Fighting Illini during the State Farm Arch Rivalry on September 5, 2009 at the Edward Jones Dome in St. Louis, Missouri.  The Tigers beat the Fighting Illini 37-9.  (Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images)

They had escaped with a 27-20 victory in the second week of a season, but there was a bitter taste in the mouths of Missouri fans after this week's game against Bowling Green.

Fans young and old ridiculed Blaine Gabbert's tuck-and-run tactics despite no throwing lanes being open. They criticized punt returner Carl Gettis for fumbling a punt he had no business fielding, even though they had also screamed at him to stop fair catching. They questioned whether a high school team had snuck onto the field in Illinois jerseys to make their Tigers look so good the week before in St. Louis.

To put it bluntly: Tiger fans were pissed. And embarrassed.

This isn't the Mizzou team people were used to seeing. But in my eyes, a win is a win. Against a Bowling Green team that beat Pitt as recently as last year, and has taken down other major conference foes, I'm glad my squad is still undefeated.

And maybe...hopefully...the Tigers will get back to their high-powered offense this Saturday.

The Tigers face the Paladins of Furman in Columbia at 1:07 p.m. CT, and although a few numbers lead to a queasy feeling in my stomach (Furman leads the FCS in third-down conversions and is top 20 in five other offensive stats), other factors lead me to believe Gabbert and Co. will be alright.

Gary Pinkel's Tigers rout FCS teams by an average score of 43-7. Gabbert looked excellent in the second half against Bowling Green, throwing two deep touchdown passes of over 25 yards and avoiding any turnovers.

After seeing their starters often pulled in the third quarter the last two years during non-conference games, MU fans might be a bit spoiled. Chase Daniel and Jeremy Maclin aren't coming back, yet Tiger fans want to see similar results.

They want the 21-point first quarters. They want Gabbert to chuck five effortless scores, and see at least one return for a touchdown. That's not going to happen every week. But it might just happen against Furman. And that would go a long way in making Tiger fans happy.

Gary Pinkel recently has very publicly called Missouri fans out. He has explicitly said that Mizzou has performed to top-notch, powerhouse expectations in recent years, and it's time for "The Zou" at Faurot Field to match that output. But watch out, Gary.

Calling for your fan base to support you more strongly only works if your talk on the field matches your talk off of it. And a one- or two-touchdown win over an FCS opponent won't cut it this week.