Smith has found out how to win

Brad Smith did almost everyone last season, running for 2,000 yards, passing for 1,000 and winning everyone at the Missouri camp over. Yet he didn't win very many games. As Tom writes, with the way Smith has played the fourth quarter this season, there's no way to count Missouri out of any game.

Sean Coffey had to think for a while.

The question before him: have you ever seen a quarterback completely take over the game as Brad Smith did on Saturday?

Coffey could only come up with one.

"Uh, Michael Vick," Coffey said.

Perhaps because he's seen just a little more football in his days than Coffey, Missouri coach Gary Pinkel could come up with another. And with 5:16 left in the fourth quarter on Saturday and Missouri down eight, he pulled Smith aside to mention him.

"I told Brad he'll be judged at Missouri first on how many games he's won and not how many yards he throws for or runs for,'' Pinkel said. "I talked to him about John Elway, and how he's known for leading teams back."

All Smith did was truck Missouri down the field, throw a touchdown pass with 1:17 left, and then run in the two-point conversion. In the stat of the week, and probably the stat of the season, Smith accounted for 74 of the Tigers' 73 yards on the drive.

After Middle Tennessee went up by six in overtime, Smith led the Tigers to a touchdown, scoring on a left sweep.

True, Smith had some bad throws early Saturday that has to have many wishing he threw 800 passes a week instead of the 700 he bragged about in the commercial. But Smith's arm isn't the one that has led Missouri to fourth-quarter drives against Illinois and Middle Tennessee to avoid losses in both games. It's not even Smith's legs.

It's what's in Smith's head that has gotten the Tigers there. When he has had to score this season, he has gotten the ball in the end zone. Period.

And at this point, you have to wonder if the Tigers would even rather have Elway or Vick behind center with the game on the line. Brad Smith is more confident than ever, and Missouri is Brad Smith's team now for sure.

"If he wants the ball, he can take it and run it every time," center A.J. Ricker said. "He wants to impact the game that much. And he sure does it."

Take away the badly thrown balls, which by the way, have all been thrown away from any defensive backs. Take away the concussion, which he had no control over. Take those away, and Smith hasn't done one thing to let his team down.

He hasn't thrown one interception. Not a single one. In fact, it's hard to think of a ball Smith has thrown that has even been close to an interception. Smith always keeps the Tigers in games, and then he has shown this season he has what it takes to get those wins Pinkel was talking about.

When I talked with him Monday after he had time to let Saturday sink in, I asked him if he had any doubt that he would score on the two-point conversion and the winning touchdown.

"No, not at all," he said. "I knew my guys were going to get my blocks and I was going to get into the end zone. There was no doubt."

There is no doubt that without Smith, Missouri is at least 3-1, if not 2-2. There is no doubt that as long as Smith stays health, there aren't any games on Missouri's schedule it can't win.

And there is no doubt Brad Smith can win them.


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