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At the time, I thought this Kevin Rutland interception was the turning point in the game. (Photo by Christian Petersen, Getty Images)

That game sucked.  To put it more accurately, it was frustrating.  The beginning was frustrating; the end of the half was frustrating, yet it still looked like Mizzou would pull out the win.  When Kevin Rutland picked off Ricky Stanzi along the sideline, I thought Mizzou was on its way to a comfortable victory.

Blaine Gabbert miraculously found Tom Brady’s pocket presence, the defense was making enough plays and receivers were running all over the field like it was 2007.  Mizzou gained a 24-20 advantage with 54 seconds to play in the third quarter, yet the way the offense was moving the ball, that lead felt more like 14 points than just four.  Midway through the fourth quarter a Mizzou victory seemed all but locked up.

Then you’d look up at the scoreboard and realize Iowa was just one big play away from taking the lead back.  Sure enough, that big play happened.  Blaine Gabbert played the best game of his career (in my opinion), impressed anyone who watched the game, but will be remembered for his inexcusable interception that brought flashbacks similar to those I still have about Brett Favre’s inexcusable interception in last year’s NFC title game against the Saints (I’m a lifelong Vikings fan, it’s brutal).

In the end, 2010 has to be considered a solid success.  Was it everything it could have been?  Certainly not.  A win over the nubs and an outright North title would have been great.  Hell, beating Texas Tech still would have gotten the Tigers in the Big 12 Championship.  However, any season with double digit wins, a perfect home schedule, and a win over the nation’s number one ranked team while hosting ESPN’s College GameDay is a good one.  If yo asked most fans in August if they’d take a 10-3 season including a win over OU, I think most would have said yes.  The loss to Iowa hurts, but the foundation is in place for an even better 2011 season.
Some final thoughts: 

  • Don’t blame this one on the coaching.  The team was prepared to play, the players just didn’t execute to the best of their abilities.
  • 11-2 sounds sooo much better than 10-3.  A win over Iowa and an 11-win season would have carried some serious momentum into next season.
  • Mizzou is 48-19 (.716) since 2006.  Not too shabby.
  • I think next year’s team will be better than this year’s version.
  • Where was the defensive line?  Mizzou generated no pass rush the entire game.
  • Offensively Missouri struggled in the first half due to their poor play on first downs.  Too many times Mizzou lost yardage on first down that set them up for long third down conversions.
  • With exception to that one throw, that was the best I’ve ever seen Blaine Gabbert play.
  • No one plays harder or with more passion (at least visibly) than TJ Moe.
  • Call me sentimental, but I’m really going to miss this year’s senior class.  Kevin Rutland, Tim Barnes, Carl Gettis and co. were some of the most respectable, fun and cool guys I’ve talked to in my four years covering Mizzou football.  It was a pleasure talking to them at media days and I wish the entire senior class the best.  I think all three mentioned above have NFL potential.
  • Speaking of NFL... I think Blaine and Aldon stay.
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