Eight is great for Missouri

There were several records at stake, not to mention positioning for a bowl game, Saturday when Missouri took on Iowa State. And those records would fall, and Missouri won its eighth regular season game for the first time in 23 years.

It was Zack Abron's nightmare.

On the second play of the game, an Iowa State player kicked Abron in the calf. With only a dozen yards to go for the Missouri career rushing record, Abron left the field with a deep bruise.

Now Abron's been through ankle injuries, knee injuries and coaching changes, so he wasn't going to let a deep bruise keep him down. He was back in four plays, and on the next possession, the record was his.

As Missouri went on to a 45-7 win Saturday, Abron and Marcus James broke individual records, and the team set its own record with its sixth home win.

Missouri improved to 8-4, 4-4 in the Big 12, and will have to wait until Dec. 7 to find out where it will be heading for its first bowl game in five years. Members from the Independence and Alamo Bowls were on hand for the game.

The Tigers finished with eight regular season wins for the first time since 1980, and they finished undefeated at home for the first time since 1974.

"We've got a long way to mature to be a great team, (but) we've got a chance to win nine football games," Pinkel said. "It's going to be fun to organize a bowl game.

"We have our banquet tomorrow, and by the way, it's going to be the first banquet I'll enjoy since I've been here."

It didn't take long for the school records to start falling. Less than five minutes in, Abron broke a 12-yard run to the right to break Brock Olivo's career rushing record. Abron finished with 3,061 career yards after a 46-yard day. He also ran for 1,000 yards in a season for the first time in his career.

"Zack really deserves that record," senior center A.J. Ricker said. "He's one of the guys that came in with us, and what a senior day for him. Zack really unselfish, and we wanted to get him that record. I'm just really happy for him."

Nine minutes later, James broke the Missouri record for combined punt and kickoff return yards in a career with a 13-yard return. James finished with 1,765 career yards combined, breaking Mike Fink's record of 1,692. James had one of his best days as a Tiger with 4 punt returns for 94 yards.

"I tried to give some jumper cables to our offense," James said.

Despite all the records falling early in the game, Missouri looked more like a broken record on offense in the first half. Mike Matheny missed an early field goal and then had another blocked, and Missouri didn't score until 3:48 left in the second half.

Missouri took only a 14-7 lead into the second half against the Cyclones, who are winless in the conference.

"It was frustrating, but that's football and you have to bounce back," quarterback Brad Smith said.

After Matheny made a 44-yard field goal on Missouri's first third quarter possession, the defense gave the Tigers a boost. Aatiyah Ellison sacked Waye Terry, who fumbled, and Xzavie Jackson picked it up and returned it to the Iowa State 4. Damien Nash ran it in on the next play, and Missouri went ahead 24-7.

Damien Nash sprints for the endzone (AP: Finley)

Smith scored his second rushing touchdown of the day at the end of the third quarter with a 61-yard run up the middle after a play-action fake to Abron. Damien Nash put on Missouri's finishing touch with a 64-yard touchdown run with 6:26 left in the fourth.

"We came in at halftime, and we looked at each other, and we said, ‘Let's go. Let's get this thing going," receiver Darius Outlaw said. "Brad got it going, and once Brad gets kicked in, everyone gets kicked in."

Smith's first rushing touchdown put Missouri ahead 7-0 with 3:48 left in the first half. Smith, who finished with 195 yards rushing, cut through the middle and evaded a tackle near the end zone for a 19-yard touchdown.

Missouri scored again with 33 seconds left in the half on a 17-yard Abron run, but it couldn't keep offensively anemic Iowa State out of the end zone as the half closed.

With 11 seconds left, Waye Terry threw a long pass to Lane Danielson as Danielson split and burned three Missouri defenders. Danielson ran untouched for a 62-yard touchdown reception with only two seconds left.

"It was just bad communication with us back there," safety David Overstreet said. "I used that as motivation and fuel for the second half. In the second half, I wanted them to run that play again."

Missouri wouldn't give up much more to the Cyclones' offense afterward. The Tiger defense stopped Iowa State on two Cyclone fourth downs in the second half. Terry had to leave the game late in the third quarter on a stretcher after Jason Simpson collided with his head.


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