Missouri at Arizona
By Matt Zemek
This point is repeated and beaten into the ground as the years go by, but the workings of college football make such repetition necessary: It is endlessly fascinating to see the same schools display the same characteristics despite the fact that the rosters are always different from one year to another. College players come and go, but why is it that Missouri and Arizona State so consistently frustrating to watch? Why do the Tigers vacillate between strength and frailty? Why do they tease and torment their fan base, only to fall short of championships and the confidence-building single-game victories that are part of championship runs? Why does Gary Pinkel simultaneously bear the proud distinction of being a consistent winner at Mizzou while also being known for his failure to keep his teams on an even keel?
Then realize that as weird and inscrutable as Missouri might seem, Arizona State makes the Tigers look positively pedestrian by comparison.
Why is it that ASU can look so formidable for seven minutes and then wretched in the next seven minutes? Why is it that the Sun Devils have seemingly become Dennis Erickson's Miami Hurricanes in the 1991 Cotton Bowl, given all the penalties they committed? Why does Arizona State refuse to win games easily? Why do the Sun Devils muff a punt when up by 14 points against Missouri? Why do the Devils get smoked in a cover-FOUR defense on 3rd and 14 late in a one-touchdown game?
The perfect summation of Mizzou-ASU is that Arizona State played a typical – typically disjointed and dysfunctional – football game but still won it. This Sun Devil triumph exists because Pinkel kicked a field goal on 4th and goal from the 1-yard line in the third quarter, and because Pinkel iced his own kicker twice before Missouri attempted a game-winning kick on the final scrimmage play of regulation.
It's fitting that these two teams took so long to decide a winner. Not attaining swift and certain victory has become a way of life for the Tigers and the Sun Devils. The fact that Arizona State prevailed will say a lot more – at least in the short term – about Missouri's deficiencies than any of ASU's strengths.
By: Barrett Sallee
Follow me on Twitter: @BarrettSallee
On a night where we should be talking about Arizona State making a statement at home against a ranked Big 12 opponent and possibly living up to some of the preseason hype, we aren't. On a night where we should be talking about Sun Devils' head coach Dennis Erickson perhaps getting off of the hot seat, we aren't. On a night where we should be talking about Arizona State quarterback Brock Osweiler jumping into the Heisman Trophy discussion, we aren't.
Because Missouri head coach Gary Pinkel decided to ice his own kicker at the end of regulation – TWICE.
There's simply no excuse for that.
Missouri quarterback James Franklin showed why he won that job, tossing two touchdown passes in the fourth quarter to erase a 14-point Tiger deficit. But with a few ticks remaining, Pinkel called two timeouts as his kicker, Grant Ressel, lined up for a 48-yard field goal. Ressel missed, and the Tigers subsequently lost in overtime.
Pinkel is a well-respected, veteran coach who has brought Missouri to heights it hasn't enjoyed in quite some time, but there's no doubt that this loss falls directly on him. Sure, a 48-yard field goal is no gimme, but give your kicker every opportunity to win it. Any college player in that position is going to be a little nervous. Don't compound the issue by freezing him yourself. That's coaching 101.
There's no truth to the rumor that the Pac-12 and SEC have rescinded offers for Missouri to switch conferences as a result of the gaffe at the end of regulation. As a matter of fact, SEC commissioner Mike Slive may now find Missouri MORE attractive. At least Pinkel might be able to provide Les Miles some company in the SEC fraternity of coaches with clock management issues.