"You have to give Colorado credit for their play, but we just didn't have intensity today," Missouri coach Gary Pinkel said. "This is a tough conference and we have to get stronger as the season goes on.
"There was some good things that went on out there, but I'm not concerned with that. I'm concerned with winning."
Missouri dropped to 6-3 and 2-3 in the Big 12, and the Tigers no longer control their own destiny to make the Big 12 Championship. Colorado kept their bowl hopes alive and improved their record to 4-6.
"I really don't know what happened today, but something went wrong," center A.J. Ricker. "We have to point the fingers at ourselves, and I'm pointing the finger at myself. We feel that we lost this game rather than them winning, but give them credit."
With Missouri down 14-9 late in the second quarter, Smith kept the ball on a second and 7. As he went for a second effort for a touchdown at the 1, the ball popped loose, and Colorado's Medford Moorer recovered it in the end zone.
"I thought I was in, but (the referees) must have thought that I wasn't," Smith said. "That's the way this game goes. I was surprised. I thought it was a touchdown. (The ball) got knocked out and the refs called it the way they did."
And so the Tigers lost their best chance of the day to take a lead. Their next best chances wouldn't come for a while.
Colorado scored in the third quarter to go ahead 21-9, and the Tigers again and again struggled to put together a drive. It wasn't until five minutes left in the fourth quarter until Missouri made a run at the Buffaloes.
On a second and 10, Smith hit Damien Nash short, and then Nash had one of the most incredible runs of the year for the Tigers, breaking several tackles and making cut after cut on his way to a 48-yard touchdown. With exactly five minutes left, Missouri pulled to 21-16, and it looked like the Tigers had the momentum back.
It looked like they really had the momentum when the defense forced the Buffaloes into a three-and-out on the next drive. On third and 6, Colorado quarterback Joel Klatt scrambled and hit Brian Calhoun, but Missouri defensive tackle C.J. Mosley had backed into pass coverage, and he tackled Calhoun for only a 3-yard Colorado gain.
Missouri got the ball back with 58 seconds left, but its drive went nowhere and ended with Smith's second interception and fourth turnover of the afternoon. Colorado sacked Smith for a 7-yard loss on first down, and then forced incomplete passes on the next two downs. On fourth down and 17, Colorado's Dominique Brooks intercepted Smith's desperation pass.
Colorado ran out the clock, and Missouri couldn't pull off a fourth quarter comeback as it did against Illinois, Middle Tennessee and Nebraska. Missouri faltered on the road for the third straight time despite outgaining the Buffaloes 447-276.
Smith finished with 102 yards rushing and completed 29 of 42 passes for 278 yards, but he had two interceptions and two fumbles. The first interception came on a 40-yard hail mary attempt to close the first half, and Brooks intercepted it at nearly the same place Colorado recovered the earlier fumble.
"Brad is not superman, so you can't blame this on him," Pinkel said. "He can't do everything on the football field, and this was a team effort."
Colorado scored first with a 16-yard touchdown pass from Klatt to Derek McCoy over the middle with 10:58 left in the first quarter. Missouri responded with a 19-yard field goal by Mike Matheny to draw within four, but Colorado came right back early in the second quarter for another score. Lawrence Vickers took a short pass from Klatt and beat Brandon Barnes and A.J. Kincade to the end zone for a 3-yard score that put the Buffaloes ahead 14-3.
On its next drive, Missouri responded. The Tigers had plays 18, 9 and 15 yards before Smith found Sesay for a 17-yard score with 9:04 left in the second. Uncharacteristically, Pinkel went for the 2-point conversion, and Colorado stopped the bubble screen to Outlaw, and Missouri trailed 14-9, the same score at the half.