The loss to Iowa in the Insight Bowl left Missouri at 10-3 for the 2010 season, which is the third 10-win season in the last four years for the Tigers. ShowMeMizzou reviews the disappointment, and the accomplishment, that was the 2010 season, and checks in on the state of the program, at season's end.
Missouri entered the bowl season ranked #12 in the BCS Standings, and #14 in both of the human polls. The Tigers will likely fall in the rankings, following their 27-24 loss to a very good Iowa team, but should remain in the top 20, when the final rankings are produced. According to the NCAA, Missouri's 2010 schedule ranks as the 8th toughest in the country. And, in the 'who did you beat category', Missouri had 9 wins against FBS opponents, who possessed a collective winning percentage of 57.3%. Entering the Bowl season, only Auburn had beaten a better collection of teams.
Missouri's 2010 senior class amassed 40 wins over the last 4 seasons, a school record, eclipsing the 38 wins amassed by the 2009 senior class. This was the third straight season that Missouri's seniors have re-established that school record, meaning that Missouri has just completed a six-year span (2005-2010) in which the Tigers have won more games than during any other six-year span in school history.
Missouri's 40 wins over the last four seasons places the Tigers in a tie, with Texas and USC, for the 10th most wins in the FBS during the last four years. Three teams who play in non-BCS conferences, Boise State, TCU, and Utah, have each won more games than Missouri over the past four years. Among teams from BCS conferences, only Ohio State, Alabama, Florida, Oklahoma, Oregon, and Virginia Tech have won more games than Missouri during the last four years.
In addition, the Tigers are tied with Texas for the second-most Big 12 conference wins during the last four years.
For Missouri, the high point of the 2010 season occurred on the night of October 23rd, when Missouri moved to 7-0, with a well-earned 36-27 win over then #1 ranked Oklahoma. That was Coach Pinkel's first win over a Bob Stoops coached Oklahoma team, and followed up an impressive 30-9 win over Texas A&M the week before, in College Station.
Missouri had managed to get through the non-conference third of the schedule, but hadn't really put things together. The Tigers pulled out a come-from-behind win in the season opener against a good Illinois team, and escaped with a last-minute 27-24 win at home against San Diego State, when T.J. Moe took a quick out from Blaine Gabbert and scampered 68 yards down the East sideline at Faurot Field.
Missouri began conference play by shutting out Colorado 26-0, the first of two conference shutouts the Tigers registered in 2010.
In the days following the mountaintop experience of beating Oklahoma, Coach Pinkel said that his players were treated "like rock stars". The Tigers came crashing down the mountain during a nightmarish first quarter the following week, in Lincoln, as the Cornhuskers jumped out to a 24-0 lead. Missouri fought back, outscoring Nebraska 17-7 during the game's final three quarters, but couldn't dig themselves out of the deep hole.
Missouri jumped out to an early 14-0 lead the following week, at Texas Tech, but inexplicably, lost focus, and the game, as Taylor Potts came off of the bench to lead TTU to the comeback win over the Tigers.
Over the next three weeks, Missouri re-established their offensive identity, to combat the Double Eagle defenses they were seeing, by running the football, which culminated in five rushing TDs against Kansas, in the season finale.
Facing a zone defense against Iowa, Blaine Gabbert had a monster game throwing the football, in what could be his last game at Missouri. But, Gabbert threw one pass that he shouldn't have, and Iowa pulled out a fourth quarter comeback.
Missouri won 10 games in 2010, with just five senior starters, and just 7 seniors on the two-deep depth chart. The Tigers went into the Insight Bowl with 18 juniors, 13 sophomores, and 17 freshmen listed on the two-deep. In addition, Missouri red-shirted 20 players in 2010, most of whom were signed in the Tigers' heralded 2010 recruiting class, and many of whom appear to be likely to play next year.
Missouri scored 29.85 points/game in 2010. Some of the positives for Missouri on the offensive side of the football included the continued development of junior QB Blaine Gabbert, the development of Missouri's offensive line, and the emergence of several skill players, including All-American TE Michael Egnew, WR T.J Moe, and a quartet of TBs.
Missouri's special teams performed at a high level in 2010, including PK Grant Ressel, and punter Matt Grabner. Missouri finished the season ranked 14th in the NCAA in net punting, at 39.06 yards/punt.
But, the story of the year, and the primary reason for most of the Tigers' on-field success, was the development of Missouri's defense, under second year Defensive Coordinator, Dave Steckel. Missouri finished the season ranked 6th in the FBS in scoring defense, yielding just 16.08 points/game, and 2nd in red zone defense, allowing opponents to score just 57% of the time in the red zone. Missouri's pass defense was outstanding, ranking 12th in the FBS in pass efficiency defense.
Many have suggested that Missouri's 10-win season exceeded most pre-season prognostications for the Tigers. I'm not among that number. While I consider 10 wins to be an outstanding season, from my view point, this Missouri team was capable of winning every game in which they played. That's a view I held prior to the season, as well as currently, in retrospect. My disappointment in losing three games is tempered by the knowledge that a 10-win season is a considerable accomplishment, and that the Missouri football program is poised to continue on its upward trajectory, under Coach Pinkel.