The 1982 college football season was the Year of the Tie in the Big Eight. In the eight previous seasons, there were two ties in Big Eight conference games. Then there were four Big Eight conference game ties in eight DAYS in October, two of which involved Mizzou.
Although it was a oddity for the Tigers to play back-to-back ties, it was fairly fitting for the 1982 Missouri season. After the first four seasons under Warren Powers saw 7 or 8 wins each season and four bowl appearances, the Tigers slipped to a mediocre 5-4-2 in 1982. (Even typing 5-4-2 as a record and not an innovative defensive formation feels weird; here’s to college football overtime.)
Missouri started with two home wins, 28-14 against Colorado State on Sept. 4, and 23-10 against Army on Sept. 11. Then came a trip to No. 17 Texas after a bye. It was Sept. 25, but the temperature rose to 91 in Austin that day. The Longhorns rumbled to a 21-0 win.
Then came a home game with East Carolina (it appears Missouri’s nonconference schedules were getting much easier after the rugged slates of the 1970s), and Missouri won that 28-9. Time for Big Eight play. Time for ties.
Missouri started conference play on Oct. 9 at Kansas State. It was a fun autumn in Manhattan, as the Wildcats had started 3-1 and were on their way to just their fourth winning season since the Great Depression almost half a century before, when a man named Pappy coached their team. K-State would make their first ever bowl that fall, which would remain their only bowl until Bill Snyder got his streak going in 1993.
The Tigers and Wildcats raged to a 7-7 tie, Missouri’s first tie since 1966, 16 years before.
The day after the tie, Oct. 10, the St. Louis Cardinals won Game 3 of the National League Championship Series to win their first pennant since 1968, 14 years before.
That led to a sometimes-frequent, sometimes-rare event, a Mizzou home football game the same day as a World Series game by an in-state team. Parking lots were probably buzzing with nerves and Cardinals hats ahead of the Oct. 16 game with Iowa State. The Cyclones were not great in 1982, but they did whoop up on a good Iowa team in Iowa City early in the season, so those wonderful Iowa State fans had reason to feel good. Their was no whooping on this October Saturday at Faurot Field, or otherwise it was exactly equal whooping, because the two teams tied 17-17, one of nine ties in the 104-year history of the series between the two schools.
That afternoon, in Milwaukee, the American League champion Brewers tied the World Series at 2-2 with a 7-5 win over the Cardinals.
That set up the combined energy of a Mizzou-Nebraska game week and the Cardinals seeking their first World Series title in 15 years. On Wednesday, the Cardinals, playing with the “Whitey-ball” energy that fans today still reminisce about, rallied from a 3-1 deficit to win Game 7 in St. Louis and take the title.
A baseball title in hand, Missouri fans now looked for a huge football win. Sporting a bizarre 3-1-2 record, Missouri traveled to Lincoln on Oct. 23 to face No. 5 Nebraska. After two straight ties, this was another close one, but the Huskers prevailed 23-19. Junior Nebraska running back Mike Rozier was suffering from a hip pointer, but he came off the bench and rushed for 139 yards on 17 carries in the second half to lead a Husker comeback.
In their Victory Bell rivalry, Missouri and Nebraska only tied three times in 104 games, all of which happened by 1930.
Nebraska was a juggernaut that year, finishing 12-1 and No. 3 in the final poll, with the only loss coming by three points at Penn State early in the season.
Now 3-2-2, Missouri traveled to Oklahoma State on Oct. 30. The Cowboys had been the other primary team in the October tie fest, notching a 24-24 tie with Kansas and a 25-25 tie with Colorado during the same two weeks Missouri had their ties.
Had Missouri and Oklahoma State tied, it probably would’ve tilted the axis of the Earth. But that wouldn’t be a problem, as OSU won 30-20.
Mizzou bounced back with a home win, 35-14, over a bad Colorado team. But the Buffaloes had first-year coach Bill McCartney, who would take Colorado to the top of the sport over the next eight years.
Missouri then got hammered 41-14 at No. 15 Oklahoma, and finished the season with a 16-10 win over Kansas at Faurot Field on Nov. 20. It was the last game with Don Fambrough coaching the Jayhawks, a coach known for his disdain for Missouri and fiery pre-Border War speeches.
Missouri finished the year 5-4-2, and for the first time since 1977 Missouri would not play in a bowl game.
1982: 37 years ago, fifth in the Big Eight
Record: 5-4-2, 2-3-2 in Big Eight