Friday, July 12, 2019

Mizzou 50: 1970, Devine's last season

The 1970 season began with high hopes after the success of 1969, with the Tigers starting the season ranked No. 11. Missouri again opened the season at Busch Stadium in St. Louis, rolling 38-0 over Baylor. The next week, ranked No. 10, the Tigers won big in Columbia against Minnesota. The season was showing a lot of promise as the Tigers returned to St. Louis for another Busch Stadium game on Sept. 26, facing No. 20 Air Force.

The Falcons knocked Mizzou into the wild blue yonder, winning 37-14. Missouri fell from No. 9 to No. 20 in the AP poll, but the Tigers recovered to win big at Oklahoma State to open their Big Eight title defense.

But then came the game of the year, at No. 6 Nebraska, which was rolling under coach Bob Devaney. In the battle for the Victory Bell, Nebraska won 21-7.

Missouri returned home for another headliner game, hosting No. 3 Notre Dame and legendary coach Ara Parseghian. The Irish left Columbia with a 24-7 win, dropping Missouri to 3-3 and unranked.
The Tigers had to face a third straight ranked opponent, No. 19 Colorado, but the Tigers this time prevailed with a 30-16 win over the Buffs. There was still some hope for a decent season, especially with the schedule easing up some.

But next week, on Halloween, Missouri traveled to Manhattan to take on Kansas State, and suffered a ghoulish loss. Playing in a renovated KSU stadium that the Wildcats were surely proud of, with new Astro Turf to make it feel extra 70s-ish and expanded seating capacity, K-State won 17-13 to drop Missouri to 4-4. It contributed to K-State’s only winning season (6-5) between 1954 and 1982, and was one of just four winning seasons in the 54 years ahead of Bill Snyder getting to Manhattan. So yeah, consider this another reminder Bill is a wizard.

Missouri lost the Battle for the Sooner Peace Pipe game to Oklahoma, which happened a lot, and then lost the Battle for the Telephone Trophy to Iowa State, which happened less frequently.

The season had fallen apart, and Missouri was 4-6, but in what turned out to be Dan Devine’s last game at Mizzou, the Tigers won 28-17 over Kansas to close out the season at 5-6.

Nebraska went on to win its first national championship that year, aided by bowl game losses by Ohio State and Texas, surely setting off three and a half decades of “Is Texas back?” chatter.

After the season, Dan Devine left Missouri to go coach the Green Bay Packers, and then eventually ended up coaching Notre Dame and being the villain in the “Rudy” movie, even if that was apparently a pretty unfair portrayal. It would take Missouri a while to get back to the level of success Devine achieved.

1970: 49 years ago, T-4th in the Big Eight

5-6, 3-4 in Big Eight

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