We Win!

After falling to a 21-point deficit, the Missouri Tigers created some defensive points and returned to doing what they do best...let Brad be Brad.

The final score of 38-31 might imply that the 2005 Independence Bowl was a back and forth offensive shootout. It really wasn't.

What this game was was a warrior's challenge to Missouri head coach, Gary Pinkel, and his football team.

Missouri spotted a game, but over-matched, South Carolina team to a 21-point advantage early in the game. The Tigers looked flat, emotionless, and confused...we've seen this team already this year.

Just as ESPN pundits Mike Gottfried and Craig James pronounced the Tigers, down three touchdowns to, "a Steve Spurrier team," something wonderful happened...Missouri created some points. Marcus King jumped a USC route as the Gamecocks were crusing for their fourth touchdown, and returned it 99 yards for a Missouri touchdown.

Down, but not out...!

This was the moment that brought the Missouri defense back to life. It also created hope for the Tigers' offense, which had looked out of synch to that point.

While Pinkel and his staff have received a great deal of criticism this season for their choices on offense, and justifiably so, Missouri found the right blend of, "letting Brad be Brad," while rediscovering their tight ends. Martin Rucker and Chase Coffman were magnificent in this game.

In his last game as a Tiger, Smith accounted for over 400 yards of total offense and four touchdowns...we've seen this player before as well. He was as magnificent with his feet as any game in the past. He showed why he is the greatest running quarterback in NCAA history, and the Gamecocks had no answers.

Missouri finished the season 7-5, and finally can go into an offseason feeling good about themselves and the way they finished their season.

Brad Smith rides off into the sunset as a heroic figure in the classic sense. Here was a player that picked a team up, put them on his shoulders, and overcame a three-td deficit to win a bowl game.

In the end, Pinkel allowed, "Brad to be Brad," and the memories of that night in Shreveport will last forever.

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