Mizzou-Tennessee game still a thrill for Tigers

2012-11-13T00:15:00Z 2013-05-22T15:43:25Z Mizzou-Tennessee game still a thrill for TigersBy Vahe Gregorian vgregorian@post-dispatch.com

COLUMBIA, Mo. • Before Mizzou’s game Saturday at Tennessee, junior linebacker Andrew Wilson was perusing notes about the matchup and came across the fact Mizzou and Tennessee were tied for the most overtime wins (10) in FBS history.

“‘Wouldn’t it be cool if we won in overtime?’ ” he said, according to roommate T.J. Moe.

And so MU did, probably in cooler fashion than Wilson could have pictured: 51-48 in a school-record four overtimes, triumphant at last on redshirt freshman Andrew Baggett’s 35-yard field goal.

Even as MU (5-5) was trying to move past that game and on to its matchup with visiting Syracuse (5-5), the afterglow of the game still was apparent Monday.

Especially considering it was Mizzou’s first Southeastern Conference road victory and all that had to happen, including James Franklin’s 25-yard touchdown pass to Dorial Green-Beckham on fourth and 12 with 47 seconds left in regulation to tie it at 28-28.

“How big can a play be?” MU coach Gary Pinkel said.

The ultimate moment might have been recognized first by Moe, the holder on the kick.

“I was the only guy celebrating for about 3 seconds there,” Moe said, noting that linemen still were blocking as he broke with custom and looked immediately after Baggett struck the ball. “And Andrew thought some bird was going to come out of the air and knock the ball out or something.”

To try to relax Baggett, just before the kick Moe recalled saying, “ ‘Hey, Andrew, I bet my entire life saving’s this one’s going right down the middle.’ ”

Not getting the reaction he sought, Moe added, “Hey, Andrew, smile for me, pal.”

Ever-so-slightly, he did, then went into his routine … and put it through. Baggett on Monday was named co-SEC special teams player of the week.

In contrast to Moe, the moment was too much to watch for some.

On the sideline, junior guard Max Copeland said he held co-offensive line coach Bruce Walker’s hand “like a little girl.”

“And I took a knee, and I closed my eyes and I squeezed his hand,” he said. “And I heard the kind of thump of the kick, and then I heard just silence. And then I heard just a small group of cheers, and I knew that we made it.

“And, man, I collapsed, just on all fours.”


Redshirt freshman defensive back Ian Simon saw prime-time action in overtime because of cornerback E.J. Gaines’ sprained ankle (Gaines is expected to return this week), and he came through to break up what proved to be Tennessee’s last play.

Turns out to do it Simon not only was overcoming his inexperience but also the wrath of defensive coordinator Dave Steckel.

“He’s got a lot of mental resolve,” Steckel said Monday, “because I verbally assaulted him.”

Steckel said he actually had apologized to Simon for going off on him for not being where he was supposed to be three plays in a row. He said Simon told him, “No, Coach, I needed that.”


With Jimmie Hunt’s 87-yard kickoff return for a touchdown against Tennessee, all three of MU’s deep men (also including Marcus Murphy and Gahn McGaffie) have had returns for touchdowns in their career. “That’s never happened in my career, and it probably will never happen again,” Pinkel said … MU has moved reserve sophomore linebacker Markus Golden to defensive end in preparation for next season … Pinkel left Columbia on Monday for his hometown of Akron, Ohio, to attend the funeral of his high school coach, Dick Fortner.

Vahe Gregorian covers Mizzou and the Olympics for the Post-Dispatch. Follow him on Twitter at @vgregorian

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