LUBBOCK, Texas (AP) -- Missouri's defense is for real.
The No. 23 Tigers' defense, which came into the game ranked No.
10 in the nation, set up most of the scoring in a 38-21 win over
Texas Tech on Saturday night. But questions about the strength of
Missouri's schedule had some wondering whether the defense had
really been tested before playing Tech.
The answers came in four turnovers -- two interceptions and two
fumbles -- by Tech quarterback Graham Harrell, which led to 28
points for Missouri.
"We all know what it's like to play that team, and the
turnovers were the difference in the football game," Missouri
coach Gary Pinkel said. "That's certainly something we tried to
Chase Daniel threw for 171 yards and a touchdown, giving
Missouri its first 6-0 start in 33 years.
Xzavie Jackson and William Moore scored on interception returns
on consecutive Texas Tech possessions in the second quarter.
"I looked up and just felt it," Jackson said. "Then I looked
at the quarterback's eyes and he threw the ball. I just cut in
there and the ball sort of stuck to my hand."
Daniel, who returned to Texas where he played high school
football in the Dallas area, really didn't have to do much. But his
dual threat kept Tech's defense guessing. The Birthday Boy -- Daniel
turned 20 on Saturday -- completed 15 of 22 passes, threw one
interception and ran for 37 yards.
Daniel said the defense had talked all week about getting
"It's like coach talks about all the time: it's one thing to
have ability, but you have to have capability," Daniel said. "We
got the ball and scored."
Harrell, who came into the game ranked fourth in the nation in
total offense and was the hero in last week's dramatic 31-27 win
over Texas A&M, appeared flustered by the Tigers' blitz. Texas Tech
coach Mike Leach even benched him for a series following the second
of consecutive interceptions.
"The biggest thing I wanted to illustrate was how easy it was
to make routine plays," Leach said. "It was simple what they were
Missouri (2-0 Big 12) got up 24-0 before Texas Tech (4-2, 1-1)
crossed the 50. The Red Raiders scored two touchdowns before
halftime and appeared to have momentum turned around. But Missouri
stiffened and allowed only one score in the second half.
Harrell's second fumble came early in the second half gave the
Tigers good field position at Tech's 44. Daniel threw a 36-yard
pass to Will Franklin and Tony Temple ran 8 yards for a touchdown
on the first play of the fourth quarter to give the Tigers their
Harrell completed 39 of 55 passes for 342 yards and three
Missouri's defense pressured Harrell early, forcing a fumble at
the Red Raiders' 12 on the first play of Tech's second possession.
DeMarcus Scott recovered the ball and four plays later Temple put
Missouri up 10-0 on a 1-yard run.
Missouri's defense got better in the second quarter.
Jackson got the first Missouri defensive score on a screen pass
over the middle by Harrell, and the defensive end lumbered 17 yards
into the end zone untouched to give the Tigers a 17-0 lead.
Harrell's very next pass -- to Robert Johnson near the sideline --
was picked off by Moore, who scampered 22 yards to put Missouri up
On Tech's next series, Harrell was replaced by backup
quarterback Chris Todd, who got the Red Raiders across midfield for
the first time in the game. But Harrell returned on the next
possession to a sprinkling of boos from fans.
He silenced them quickly, though, completing 4-of-5 passes,
including a 30-yard touchdown to whittle Tech's deficit to 24-7.
It was then Daniel's turn to make a first-down mistake. Tech
cornerback Chris Parker intercepted Daniel's pass at the Tech 41,
and Harrell led the Red Raiders down the field for a touchdown. He
threw a 6-yard pass to Joel Filani with 1:27 remaining in the half
to draw Tech to 24-14.
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