Missouri Tigers Left Wondering What Might Have Been

Scott TaylorCorrespondent IJanuary 4, 2008

For those of you who tuned in to the Cotton Bowl, you saw one of the most dominating performance of the bowl season turned in by the University of Missouri.

Not only did the Tigers shut down Heisman Trophy runner-up Darren McFadden, but its running back broke the Cotton Bowl record for most yards in the historic game.

That's right: Tony Temple rushed for 281 yards on just 24 carries for the normally pass-happy Tigers.

McFadden managed 105 yards, but his contributions were generally very quiet and meaningless.

The win has left many Tigers fans, including myself, wondering how they couldn't beat Oklahoma, a team they lost to twice and who was smoked by West Virginia 48-28 in the Fiesta Bowl.

The way West Virginia ran all over the Sooners was similar to the way Missouri ran past Arkansas. So why couldn't they do the same to the Sooners?

Well, the answer is fairly simple: they didn't try.

Missouri will force the pass at all times, and the games against Oklahoma is a perfect example. With the passing attack not working in the first half, the Tigers needed to go to the ground in the second half.

Even in the Cotton Bowl, Missouri passed way more than it needed to.

Chase Daniel completed just 12 of 29 passes for 136 yards—yet he passed more times than Temple ran.

In fact, it should have been easy to stop Temple. With all of the five wide receiver sets that Missouri used, almost every time Temple was in the game he got the ball. It was one of the most predictable things in the world.

All it did was make me put two and two together, and realize why the Tigers weren't playing in the championship.

Obviously the defense isn't great, but it isn't bad either. Play calling is still the major issue.

Despite all of the success of the Tigers this year, I will look back at the 2007 team and wonder what might have been.

People keep talking about the two-loss teams (USC, Georgia) who deserved a shot at the title. After Kansas won as well, why shouldn't the Jayhawks and Tigers be in the same position?

That goes back to the whole playoff discussion, which will have to be saved for another day.

Anyway, book a repeat between Oklahoma and Mizzou in the Big 12 Championship game next year, with some revenge from the Tigers.

They were a top five team this year, and will be again next year.