The Missouri Tigers managed to put a happy ending to the regular season with a comeback win against long time rival Kansas 24-10. Not only did it improve their record to 7-5 overall and move them into the top 25 at the #25 spot in the latest poll, but it will give them an added boost on the recruiting trail which they hit this week.
The game looked in doubt as QB James Franklin had one of the worst first halves that any signal caller could throwing 3 interceptions, including a pick six for KU's only touchdown on the day.
However, you have top admire the fight in this year's team and ability to come back on numerous occasions even if not all have been as successful.
This win makes a statement to potential bowl game suitors, recruits and rival Kansas. Plus, if this is to be the last time they play, it's good to go out on top.
Here is a break down of the Tiger ups and downs from Saturday's 24-10 win over the Kansas Jayhawks.
* Tiger Defense- The Mizzou defensive unit played probably their best game of the year against KU and the team really needed it. Despite the offense not clicking and actually providing the Jayhawks with opportunities to get the upper hand on the Tigers, the defense held them in check only allowing a field goal.
The Tiger defense was dominant all day long, allowing only 137 yards of total offense to a Kansas team which came in averaging 345 yards a game. The yardage allowed total was four yards fewer than in 2010, when MU allowed KU only 141 yards in a 35-7 Tiger win. In the last two games combined in the series, Kansas has had 278 yards on 119 plays, for an average of 2.3 yards per play.
* Beating Kansas Is Always Good- Mizzou improved to 57-54-9 all-time vs. Kansas with the win, and MU has now won 3 straight games against Kansas for the first time since a 3-game win streak from 1986-88.
The win improved Mizzou's lead in the M&I Bank MU-KU Border Showdown Series to a commanding 12.5-to-0.0 lead for the 2011-12 season thus far. The showdown records the head-to-head results between MU and KU in all sports, with each game assigned a particular point value, and the school with the most points at the end of the year claims the traveling trophy. This is the 10th year of the series, and MU has won 7 of the previous 9 seasons, including the last five years straight.
* Kenji Jackson- Jackson - The senior co-captain, led the defensive charge for the Tigers, as he tallied a team-best 7 tackles, including 1 sack (7 yards) and 1.5 TFLs (8 yards), in addition to grabbing a game-clinching interception at the Mizzou 1-yardline late in the 4th quarter. Kenji stepped up and provided some much needed senior leadership in the game with his play on the field.
* Jacquies Smith @ Monster – I really like what they did with Jacquies Smith playing a monster type position where he was moved around on defense at linebacker and the line and allowed to put pressure and make plays at various spots on the defense. It really allowed Smith to use his athleticism. It also might have been a glimpse into Smith's future in the NFL.
* Zaviar Gooden- It had been a long time since Zaviar had made himself such a presence in a game on defense. It was possibly his best game of the year and he had a different demeanor about him on the field using all that speed and ability to make plays, including 7 tackles (tied w/Jackson) and 1 INT.
* Kenronte Walker- Kenronte played his best game as a Tiger with 4 tackles and a big sack in the game. The safety spot had been a problem at times during the season. It was nice to see him step up with his play.
* Sheldon Richardson- Big Shel only had 2 tackles, but he was a disruptive force once against and showed great hustle. It is becoming apparent that opposing offensive linemen's best technique against Sheldon is to hold.
* 2nd half James Franklin- Who was that guy in the first half? It certainly wasn't the same guy who led the comeback with two nicely thrown touchdown passes and 3 scores overall for the win. You have to give James a ton of credit for overcoming that first half and righting himself. Not many QBs on any level can do that. He looked like he was shellshocked out there in the first quarter, and it affected his entire play and decision making abilities.
Franklin rebounded from a rough first half (which included three interceptions, including a pick-six return) to post a strong second half that guided Mizzou to a 24-10 win over rival Kansas. Franklin ended the day 14-of-22 passing for 187 yards and 2 TDs to go with the 3 first-half interceptions. He also ran 17 times for 45 yards, giving him 232 yards of total offense on the day to give him a win in his first-ever start against KU.
Team Focus- Mizzou was whistled for 2 penalties for 25 yards on the same 1st-quarter possession, but those ended up being the only penalties on the day for MU. After starting the season with penalty issues (MU averaged 8.60 penalties for 71.20 yards in its first 5 games), the Tigers have cleaned things up considerably, as they have averaged just 3.00 penalties in the last 7 games for 26.86 yards (21 penalties for 188 yards). It's no surprise that the Tigers were 2-3 in those first 5 games and 5-2 in the last 7.
* 1st Half James Franklin- Again, who was that guy in the first half? We have seen James be streaky in his play before. Most notably in the Oklahoma State game when he threw multiple picks. However, the first half of the KU game was unlike anything we have seen from a Tiger QB in recent memory. Not sure the reason behind it totally. I know they were doing some different things then he had prepared for defensively, but it looked like a total meltdown. Luckily, the other James came out and played the 2nd half.
*Special Teams- There is a noticeable difference since Josey has not been part of kick returns. I also think that the punt return game was not very good either. While Barrow has done a nice job in the absence of Ressel, he missed a kick and averaged only 39 yards per punt on Saturday.
Offensive Player of the Week- James Franklin-Came back strong after halftime, as he completed all 5 of his pass attempts in the 3rd quarter for 75 yards and 1 TD (a beautiful 25-yard strike to WR Wes Kemp in the back of the endzone). He also completed his first pass of the 4th quarter for a 53-yard TD to WR Marcus Lucas, and he ended the second half 6-of-7 passing for 128 yards and 2 TDs.
Defensive Player of the Week- Kenji Jackson-Jackson's INT was his team-leading 3rd of the season, and the 7th of his career
Special Teams Player of the Week- Donovan Bonner- Bonner led Mizzou's special forces on Saturday, as he registered a pair of tackles on kickoff coverage, with both tackles forcing fumbles. Mizzou recovered one of those loose balls at the Kansas 12-yardline in the 4th quarter….Bonner also plays on the MU kickoff return unit, and he caught a sky kick and returned it 5 yards to the MU 35-yardline to set the Tigers up with good field position in the 2nd quarter.