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Mizzou bowl hopes bounced in blowout
Mizzou
Mizzou

Mizzou bowl hopes bounced in blowout

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COLLEGE STATION, Texas • Eliminating any remaining room for interpretation of the state of Mizzou’s football program at the end of its first season in the Southeastern Conference, No. 9 Texas A&M pulverized MU 59-29 on Saturday before 87,222 at Kyle Field.

The lopsided loss assured MU (5-7 overall, 2-6 SEC) of its first losing season since 2004 and called into question coach Gary Pinkel’s recent assertion that the “infrastructure” and “dynamics” of Mizzou football aren’t comparable to that year and that MU is on a sound foundation.

Even after a game in which the Aggies scored on their first six drives to take a 42-0 lead, Pinkel defended where MU stands.

“I believe in our philosophy of what we do. Since the day I got here,” he said. “And I have never changed anything in terms of the foundation of who we are and what we are and how we build our program.

“And (just) because we’re not going to a bowl this year (and have had numerous) injuries, I’m not going to do it. All of you (media) were sitting in the front row then, too, saying, `Why don’t you change? Why don’t you change?’

“Because I believe in what I’m doing.”

A&M, also in its first season in the SEC, is 10-2 and 6-2 and hoping to earn an at-large bid to a BCS bowl.

Mizzou entered the day with a slight hope of earning a bowl berth even in defeat because of a dearth of bowl-eligible teams that could have meant consideration even with a 5-7 record.

But by game time, the number of teams eligible for the 70 bowl spots had gone from 62 to 69 on Saturday, Wright Waters, executive director of the Football Bowl Association, said by phone from Alabama.

And by game’s end, Mississippi’s win over Mississippi State to give the Rebels their sixth win made it 70 to fill the quota and snuff out even that humbling possibility for MU.

Meanwhile, A&M was basking in a moment that included enhancing the Heisman Trophy prospects of redshirt freshman quarterback Johnny Manziel.

With Manziel throwing for 249 yards and three touchdowns and rushing for 48 yards in the first half, he broke Cam Newton’s single-season Southeastern Conference total offense record of 4,327 yards.

Manziel, a redshirt freshman, had 4,161 yards coming into the game and ended the half with 4,458. He finished with 439 yards of total offense.

A&M took a nearly instant 7-0 lead with an 83-yard drive to open the game, highlighted by Manziel’s 39-yard pass to Kenric McNeal and capped by Christine Michael’s 1-yard run.

The Aggies made it 14-0 on their next drive, culminating in Ben Malena’s 2-yard run and sparked by Manziel’s 26-yard pass to Malcome Kennedy – a play that illustrated the dilemma of dealing with the fleet-footed, daring Manziel.

He was flushed left out of the pocket and had plenty of running room but threw back against his momentum to an abandoned Kennedy.

A&M then took over at its own 36 after forcing an MU three-and-out, and three plays later it was 21-0 when Michael burst free for a 38-yard touchdown.

The score came with Manziel sidelined after being hurt at the end of a 7-yard run on the previous play. After the series, he left the field to be examined. Manziel returned to open the second quarter, though, and he made it 28-0 Aggies with his 4-yard pass to Ryan Swope to polish off an 89-yard drive.

The Aggies then took swift advantage of a fumble by MU’s Marcus Lucas to drive 54 yards and make it 35-0 on Manziel’s 5-yard pass to Mike Evans.

A whirling Manziel escape made it 42-0 from the Tiger 8-yard line when he maneuvered away from would-be MU tacklers and found Uzoma Nwachukwu in the back of the end zone with 3:33 left in the half.

“Their offense is obviously remarkably potent,” Pinkel said, noting his own offense’s issues and adding, “It was kind of the perfect storm the wrong way.”

In the final seconds of the half, MU finally countered with a 4-yard touchdown run by Kendial Lawrence set up by Trey Barrow’s 20-yard run with a fake punt and Corbin Berkstresser’s 28-yard pass to Dorial Green-Beckham.

The Tigers made it 42-10 on a 42-yard Andrew Baggett field goal to open the half, but A&M came right back with an 18-yard TD run by Manziel and made it 52-10 with Taylor Bertolet’s 50-yard field goal.

Berkstresser hit L’Damian Washington for a 74-yard touchdown to make it 52-16. Mizzou missed the point after but made it 52-23 on Berkstresser’s 1-yard run set up by E.J. Gaines’ interception of Manziel.

Lawrence’s 12-yard run on that drive put him over 1,000 for the season.

Manziel made it 59-23 early in the fourth quarter with a 1-yard TD, leaving him with 67 yards rushing and 372 passing.

Berkstresser’s 25-yard TD pass to Dorial Green-Beckham made it 59-29 with 7:15 left.

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