November 15, 2008

Tiger Notebook: Talking North title

AMES, IA--The Missouri Tigers ensured they will play three more games this season. The Tigers 52-20 win over Iowa State put Mizzou in the Big 12 title game on December 6th in Kansas City. And yet, there was no over the top celebration on the turf at Jack Trice Stadium in Ames.

"Pinkel always says act like you've been there before," Jeremy Maclin said. "We've been there last year."

"It's fun to be able to kind of get that out of the way," Gary Pinkel added.

Hardly the jubilation that the Tigers showed after clinching last year's crown, the first in school history.

"Last year, I kind of forgot we won the Big 12 North," Pinkel said. "It was more that we beat KU, our big rival, in that atmosphere, the rankings, everything that went along with it."

But that is not to say the Tigers weren't happy to have wrapped up the division.

"Back to back Big 12 North championships, another chance to go to the Big 12 Championship, that's something to be proud of," Maclin said. "Everybody's holding their head up right now."

"We've been here before," William Moore said. "Everybody's got the attitude like we want much more than the North. We've got some great teams in the South, not to focus on them yet, focus on Kansas. But the goal's still out there."

As for the coach, perhaps his biggest thrill was something that didn't happen on a night where the wind chill was 26 degrees at kickoff.

"I was just happy they didn't get me with the Gatorade."

Moore finally gets one

William Moore said before the season he wanted to intercept ten passes. Through the Tigers' first ten games, he didn't have one. But on third down in the second quarter, Moore intercepted a pass in the left flat from Austen Arnaud and returned it 17 yards for a Tiger touchdown.

"Man, it felt good, especially for six," Moore said. "Coach E always preaches, when it rains, it pours. When I get one, I'm ready to go."

"That was nice. I know he's been frustrated a little bit because he hasn't had any," Pinkel said. "I told him you also have to be in the right place at the right time. You can't help it if they're not throwing it your way."

The return was Moore's fourth for a score in his career, breaking a school record Erik McMillian had held for more than 20 years. Moore nearly added a second pick on a fourth quarter pass that was tipped and floated in the air in the end zone. He dove, but could not quite cradle the ball into his arms. Moore was informed that a certain reporter had tabbed him for two interceptions in a preview of the game.

"You probably jinxed me, man," he joked. "I thought I had it. I really thought I had it. I wish we had a red flag in college football."

Coffman Held Out

Missouri played for a second straight week without senior tight end Chase Coffman. Coffman sprained his toe against Baylor and has not played since.

"He probably could have gone," Pinkel said. "But I don't know if he'd have finished."

In his absence, freshman Andrew Jones[db] had a career day. Jones entered the game with just ten catches for 68 yards through the Tigers' first ten games. On Saturday, he came up with seven for 68 in his second career start.

"Andrew stepped up," said [db]Derrick Washington. "He played a hell of a game. I kind of think he was nervous the first couple times he started. He came out, he showed his heart and he showed us he can play."

"I don't think that's just all because I played the whole game," Jones said. "I feel like week by week, I'm getting better. At the beginning of the season, there's so much mental stuff that I was doing a lot more thinking instead of just playing. Tonight was the first game that I felt like I just played and didn't have to think."

Fellow freshman Michael Egnew also chipped in with two catches for 11 yards.

No Hardware in Ames

The Tigers will have to wait a couple of weeks to get their official recognition as Big 12 North champs. The conference's official policy is that the trophy is not awarded to a team on the road unless that game is the final game of the season. Therefore, Missouri will receive the trophy in Kansas City the weekend of the Kansas game. At this point, Missouri officials do not know when the presentation will take place.

On the plus side, Kansas cannot claim a share of the title this year, even if they were to win at Arrowhead. Missouri would win the title outright with either a win at Arrowhead or a Nebraska loss to Colorado.

Record Watch

A trio of Tigers set individual records on Saturday. Moore became the first player ever to return four interceptions for touchdowns. Daniel has now been responsible for 102 touchdowns, either by running or throwing, which ties him with Brad Smith for the record. Maclin also became the first receiver ever to have two 1,000-yard seasons. He is now 158 yards from the single-season record of 1,210, set by Victor Bailey in 1992.

Title Game Tickets

After the game, Missouri released information for fans interested in buying tickets to the December 6th championship game in Kansas City. The school will have an allocation of about 8,500 tickets, but those are reserved only for Tiger Scholarship Fund donors at the Champion's Level or above. Fans and alumni who did not receive an option to purchase tickets from the Mizzou Ticket Office are instructed to go to Ticketmaster and enter "Arrowhead Stadium" in the search box. Students are encouraged to visit MUTigers.com beginning at 8 p.m. on Tuesday, November 18th.

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