(This story is part of The Kansas City Star's Football 2015 special section that publishes Sunday, Aug. 30. Pick one up and check out more here.)
Gahn with the wind
Some people might remember wide receiver Jerrell Jackson bouncing off one Oklahoma defender and spinning away from another on a 38-yard touchdown pass from Blaine Gabbert that put Missouri in front for good during a 36-27 victory in 2010. The Sooners, who had won seven straight against the Tigers and 19 of their previous 20 meetings, had been newly minted as the No. 1 team in the country in the BCS standings earlier that week. ESPN’s “College GameDay” was in Columbia, and Memorial Stadium was primed for a raucous evening. When Oklahoma’s short, low opening kickoff toward the left sideline bounced at the 20-yard line, up-man Gahn McGaffie corralled it and zoomed upfield. He cut left off the wedge, outran kicker Patrick O’Hara’s angle near midfield and went 86 yards for Missouri’s first touchdown on an opening kickoff since Roger Wehrli scored in 1967. That lit the fuse for one of Mizzou’s biggest home wins.
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Colt 45 takes out Georgia
Missouri took the field between the hedges at Georgia’s Sanford Stadium looking for respect in 2013. The Tigers were 5-0 and had just sneaked into The Associated Press poll at No. 25. Georgia, which was ranked seventh, was supposed to put Missouri in its place, but the Tigers had other ideas and surged to a 28-10 halftime lead. The tide seemed to have turned in the Bulldogs’ favor when future Chief Aaron Murray engineered 16 straight points and MU quarterback James Franklin was knocked from the game with a separated shoulder. Missouri’s lead had been whittled to 28-26 when backup quarterback Maty Mauk slung a backward pass toward the visiting sideline for Bud Sasser, who proceeded to launch a 40-yard touchdown toss to L’Damian Washington. Dubbed “Colt 45,” that play blunted Georgia’s comeback bid and paved the way for the first of MU’s two straight SEC East titles.
Fake field goal vs. Nebraska
Missouri hadn’t beaten Nebraska in 25 years, losing 24 straight games by an average score of 38-14 during a mostly forgettable span. Things changed on a crisp October evening in 2003 at Memorial Stadium behind quarterback Brad Smith and a mesmerizing 27-point fourth quarter in a 41-24 victory. Smith scored four touchdowns, including a receiving score on a throwback double pass and three fourth-quarter rushing touchdowns, but the back-breaking — and most memorable — play came after his 39-yard touchdown run on the opening play of the fourth quarter. Missouri lined up for a game-tying 31-yard field goal, but holder Sonny Riccio, who was Smith’s backup, picked the up the ball and rolled right. He lobbed the ball to Victor Sesay in the northeast corner of the end zone — just out of Cornhuskers linebacker T.J. Hollowell’s reach — for the go-ahead touchdown.
Two points in the Horseshoe
Missouri’s teams of the 1970s were giant-killers. The program re-established itself as a powerhouse in the 1960s under Dan Devine, then went on a remarkable run of big-time upsets in the 1970s under Al Onofrio. It was one of those Onofrio-coached teams that sauntered into Ohio Stadium against the second-ranked Buckeyes in 1976 and silenced the Horseshoe with a 22-21 victory. The Tigers trailed 21-7 at halftime, but halved the deficit with a third-quarter touchdown as the defense stiffened. Quarterback Pete Woods pulled MU within a point, lobbing a 2-yard touchdown to Leo Lewis with 12 seconds remaining in the fourth quarter. Onofrio decided against settling for a tie. The Tigers’ two-point try was an incomplete pass, but they gained new life (and 1 1/2 yards) on a defensive holding penalty. Still determined to avoid a tie, Woods scored on a keeper after he slipped an attempted tackle in the backfield by defensive end Kelton Dansler and dived over the top of defensive tackle Nick Buonamici for the game-winning two-point conversion.
Josey’s run wins SEC East
Facing Texas A&M in 2013, the Tigers surged into the lead with two third-quarter touchdowns. Early in the fourth period, A&M knotted the game at 21. Junior running back Henry Josey had become a symbol for the resurgent Missouri program as it rebounded from a 5-7 introduction to the SEC and stood on the cusp of an unfathomable Eastern Division title that night at Memorial Stadium. It was fitting that Josey, who’d returned from a knee injury that robbed him of 1 1/2 seasons, delivered the SEC championship game berth. With fewer than 4 minutes remaining, Josey started left after receiving a handoff from quarterback James Franklin, cut back to the right, stepped through an ankle tackle by an Aggies defender and bolted toward the south end zone for the game-winning 57-yard touchdown.