Mizzou rallies, but falls to No. 20 K-State, 24-17
A difficult schedule often can make a team look worse than it is.
That seems to be the case for Missouri, which was ranked earlier in the year, after a 24-17 loss to Kansas State dropped the Tigers to 0-3 against teams that have cracked the polls.
''I'm responsible for it,'' coach Gary Pinkel said, ''and it didn't look very good.''
Collin Klein had three touchdowns rushing for the No. 20 Wildcats, who nearly blew a big second-half lead before holding on for a 24-17 victory and their first 5-0 start since 2000.
Klein finished with 157 yards of total offense and John Hubert added 126 yards on the ground for the Wildcats, who had lost the last five matchups between the Big 12 rivals.
James Franklin was 19 of 35 for 214 yards passing for the Tigers (2-3), who came into the game averaging more than 500 yards of total offense. They only managed 326 against the Wildcats, most of that coming on a pair of long touchdown drives in the fourth quarter.
''There's a lot of things that happen with that offense that certainly can happen,'' Pinkel said, ''but you can't do a bunch of three-and-outs because they go back out, and they run five plays or seven plays or three, and that clock wears down. But we knew that going in.''
The Tigers fought against the Wildcats' momentum throughout after Missouri quarterback James Franklin threw an interception on the first offensive play of the game.
Franklin dropped back to pass, looked over the middle and threw right to Wildcat defensive back Ty Zimmerman, who had deftly stepped in front of tight end Michael Egnew. It ended a stretch of 108 consecutive passes without throwing a pick for the sophomore quarterback.
''I thought Mike was going to get through, but he got jammed up,'' Franklin said. ''I'm not supposed to throw it if he goes over top. If he comes underneath, that's when I need to, but if not, I need to look for a different receiver or go to the other side, so that one's on me.''
It took Kansas State six plays to punch it into the end zone.
Franklin was sacked for a 13-yard loss on Missouri's ensuing possession, and the Wildcats went 51 yards in 12 plays before Anthony Cantele's field goal made it 10-0.
By the time the first quarter drew to a close, the Tigers had exactly zero yards of total offense - 20 yards through the air and minus-20 on the ground.
''They're a heck of a team and they make a lot of plays,'' Egnew said of the Kansas State defense. ''They were physical. Our preparation should have just been a little bit sharper. They prepared well.''
Henry Josey finally got things rolling for Missouri in the second quarter, using his quick feet to spring for a couple of long runs. But a false start inside the 10-yard line on second down pushed the Tigers back and they had to settle for Grant Ressel's 32-yard field goal.
Ressel had a chance to get Missouri within 10-6 at the break, but he pushed a 43-yard attempt wide right on the final play of the half as rain started to fall.
The Wildcats' only big mistake all game happened early in the third quarter, when Klein was picked off by Kip Edwards. But their defense held and Ressel's 36-yard field goal attempt was wide left.
Missouri cost itself later in the quarter when Darvin Ruise was called for roughing the punter, giving Kansas State the ball back. Hubert went to work, doing his best Darren Sproles imitation by spinning away from a defender and taking the ball all the way down to the 3.
Klein scored seconds later for a 17-3 lead.
He added a short scoring plunge on the Wildcats' ensuing possession before the Tigers finally scored.
Josey finished off a 79-yard drive with a 2-yard run to get within 24-10. The Wildcats promptly went three-and-out, and Franklin led Missouri on a 74-yard drive that he finished off with a plunge from a yard out with 5:02 left in the game.
Tight end Michael Egnew fumbled after a catch on the drive, but a video review gave the ball back to Missouri. It was one of four calls by the officiating crew that were overturned.
Missouri never got another chance with the ball.
''It's frustrating, but it's hard to win,'' Pinkel said. ''I've been here before. It's a test, and you battle, and you try to fix it, and so that's what I intend to do.''