Gamecocks give Mizzou a taste of the Chicken Curse

This one stings.

Mizzou, at its 102nd homecoming game, was 7-0 with a chance to all but lock up a berth in the SEC Championship Game when the South Carolina Gamecocks came into town.

As a student at the University of Missouri, I recognized that opportunities like this don’t come often for my school. In fact, after last year’s 5-7 record in Mizzou’s first SEC season, I wasn’t sure they would ever be in this position.

For the majority of the matchup, things were going according to plan: the Tigers took advantage of some costly Gamecock turnovers and some big plays to hold a 17-0 lead late in the third quarter. The game mostly felt secure, but Mizzou failed to capitalize on opportunities to really put things away.

For example, Missouri stopped an attempt on fourth-and-1 by South Carolina in Gamecock territory late in the second quarter, up 14-0. A touchdown on this short field would give the Tigers a 21-0 lead at halftime and South Carolina would probably have just rolled over. Instead, they went three and out.

The Gamecocks just kept hanging around.

The injured Connor Shaw returned in the middle of the third quarter, resurrected from the dead as if he was Jesus Christ. And right on cue, he became a miracle worker for South Carolina.

After a stop by Missouri’s defense on Shaw’s first drive, the quarterback led them to points on every possession from there on out. Just as he had last year when he set SEC records for consecutive completions, Shaw carved up the Mizzou secondary like a Thanksgiving turkey.

It didn’t help Missouri’s cause that the offense was anemic after halftime. Backup QB Maty Mauk, who led the Tigers to a victory of Florida in his first start last week, completed just 3 of 10 passes in the 2nd half, keeping the offense off the field. As a result, the Mizzou defense started to wear down. After a mostly dominating performance yet again, the Missouri defensive line wasn’t able to get the same level of pressure in the fourth quarter. Shaw had ample time and took advantage.

The game went to overtime and the level of frustration amped itself up to another level.

Mizzou scored a touchdown quickly on their first possession, forcing South Carolina to match if they wanted to continue playing. The Tigers put the Gamecocks at 4th and goal from the 15. Should have been game over.

As is the case oftentimes, the key part of that sentence was “should have.” Shaw found a wide open Bruce Ellington in the end zone to tie things up.

Of course he did.

Mizzou held the Gamecocks to a field goal in their second OT drive, meaning the Tigers could win with a touchdown. The Tigers gained 17 yards on their first offensive play of double OT, reaching the 8-yard line, but did little after that. Andrew Baggett, who made a longer field goal that night, went out with a chance to tie things up by making a 24-yarder.

Doink.

Undefeated season over just like that.

Now Mizzou must win out if they want to guarantee a spot in the SEC Championship Game. With games at Ole Miss and against Johnny Football’s Texas A&M squad, it seems like a tall order, though not impossible.

A night that should’ve been dedicated to celebrating rich Homecoming history (we invented it back in 1911) and one of the biggest victories in school history became relegated to mourning with friends in a lifeless atmosphere.

That’s Missouri Tiger football for you.

 

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